A Call to Gracious Professionalism - A TLDR essay

Recently, two incidents of ungracious behavior in the Vex community have come to my attention – the deliberate voting down of contest entries in the Vex Design Challenge, and questionable (no, actually, unquestionably bad) behavior at a tournament reported to me by a friend. While 2 incidents are not necessarily a pattern, I’m concerned, in part, because of the blatant nature of the incidents. I have been involved in robotics competitions for 6 years in 4 different programs, and have been mostly pleased at the general good level of behavior. While I have witnessed the occasional short temper (including my own) at a match gone wrong or disrespectful challenging of a judge’s decision, until now, I have never known of a team intentionally harming another’s efforts in order to promote their own.

It makes me wonder whether an explicit call to gracious professionalism is in order. For those of you unfamiliar with GP, it is the core value promoted by Dean Kamen, founder of FIRST (one of the major robotics organizations). It used to be called “good sportsmanship” or even “right and wrong” in the old, less PC days. Although Vex is an independent organization, a fair number of its participants have some experience with FIRST and carry the GP mantle; in addition, some who have joined the Vex community were already “good sports” without FIRST. But if you have ever wondered why competing teams at robotics events tend to be nicer than those at many sporting events, chances are that GP is at work to some degree, whether directly or indirectly.

When gracious professionalism is explicitly discussed, students tend to go, “Yeah, yeah, we know all that already.” But when push comes to shove, and someone is tempted to do something questionable (i.e., wrong), someone will often chime in, “Hey, that’s not GP,” preventing their teammate from going over the line. While I would like to think that we are all nice people, I know that I am often tempted, as a mentor, to cut corners and do “too much,” either out of expedience or self-interest. I, like many others, can use all the nudges in the right direction I can get.

Whether we call it “gracious professionalism” or something else is not important. However, I believe that explicitly stating the obvious can be a good thing. It gives people a tangible reminder that what we learn (including character) is more important than what we win, and it tends to reduce, though not eliminate, the incidence of bad behavior.

Through its awards, Vex has made it clear that points and field performance are not the only things that matter in this competition. I’m wondering whether there is anything that we, the Vex community can do to preserve the culture of excellence and character that we have enjoyed thus far.

I have a deep, dark, confession to make: I don’t really like robots very much (perish the thought). What I love is watching how robots transform students to levels of learning, teamwork, and maturity that I never had imagined. The day that robotics becomes like Little League is the day I hand in my resignation.

Yolande

ManicMechanic,

You hit the nail on the head!

We are here to showcase ourselves and VEX to the world. We are proud of what this sport stands for and how it excites and motivates the teams. I know of several students that have been given a direction as a result of being involved with robotics.

We have to keep the playing field clean and level and GP is the way we all hope to do so. At some stage those who stand by GP may have to remind those who do not. I think that emails to the teams who have members that may not be following the GP spirit may be in good order.

Perhaps even a reminder on the voting panel itself?

Analysis of the votes is showing some very interesting voting.

We would like to thank the staff at Innovation First as well as the VEX community by reminding our fellow teams and teammates of the VEX values that we hold dear. As a team, Whitney High School Robotics has created a list of VEX Values, or guidelines of Gracious Professionalism that we hope all teams will implement to insure that everyone in VRC can have an enjoyable experience. We, as a team, follow these values and encourage others to do so as well. :slight_smile:
Here is a copy of our VEX Values:

VEX Robotics Competition team members strive for excellence in all they do.
VRC team members demonstrate consistency and quality in their work. They respect their mentors and coaches.
VRC team members put safety first.
VRC team members are responsible.
VRC team members are organized, mature, and are efficient time managers.
VRC team members exhibit dedication, a passion for robotics, hard work, enthusiasm and the spirit of cooperation (teamwork under pressure).
VRC team members act with integrity, honesty, honor and reliability.
VRC team members demonstrate sportsmanship. They interact with everyone in a positive, respectful, kind and polite manner and serve as a role model for all to follow.
VRC team members lead by example.
VRC team members are always ready to help others.
VRC team members design robots incorporating creative engineering solutions for the game challenges, including solid mechanics, robust build, dependable mechanisms and an innovative approach to playing the game.
VRC team members value education and STEM programs, successfully integrating Vex Robotics into their Science, Technology, Engineering and Math curriculums.
VRC team members are actively involved in their communities.
VRC team members respect individual differences.
VRC team members are global citizens, environmentally conscious and respectful of mother earth.

If you have any questions or comments, or would like to contact us, email us at whitneyrobotics@gmail.com, or call us at 562-926-5566, ext.22325
[Call 3 - 4 pm, PST, M-F] :slight_smile:

Thanks, and we hope that you can implement and pass these VEX Values on to your team as well as the VRC Community as a whole.

-Lil’ Schmoe:)

We would like to thank the staff at Innovation First and members of the VEX community by reminding our fellow teams and teammates of the VEX values that we hold dear. As a team, Whitney High School Robotics, Team 542 has created a list of VEX Values, which are some guidelines of gracious professionalism. We encourage all teams to implement these values, not only in robotics, but in daily life. Enjoy! :slight_smile:

These VEX VALUES are presented by Whitney High School Robotics Club VRC Team 542:

  • VEX Robotics Competition team members strive for excellence in all they do.
  • VRC team members demonstrate consistency and quality in their work.
  • They respect their mentors and coaches.
  • VRC team members put safety first.
  • VRC team members are responsible.
  • VRC team members are organized, mature, and are efficient time managers.
  • VRC team members exhibit dedication, a passion for robotics, hard work, enthusiasm and the spirit of cooperation (teamwork under pressure).
  • VRC team members act with integrity, honesty, honor and reliability.
  • VRC team members demonstrate sportsmanship. They interact with everyone in a positive, respectful, kind and polite manner and serve as a role model for all to follow.
  • VRC team members lead by example.
  • VRC team members are always ready to help others.
  • VRC team members design robots incorporating creative engineering solutions for the game challenges, including solid mechanics, robust build, dependable mechanisms and an innovative approach to playing the game.
  • VRC team members value education and STEM programs, successfully integrating Vex Robotics into their Science, Technology, Engineering and Math curriculums.
  • VRC team members are actively involved in their communities.
  • VRC team members respect individual differences.
  • VRC team members are global citizens, environmentally conscious and respectful of mother earth.

If you would like to contact us, feel free to e-mail us anytime at: whitneyrobotics@gmail.com :slight_smile:

Thanks,
Lil’ Schmoe
(GOOOOOOOOOOOO SCHMOES!!! :))

We would like to thank the staff at Innovation First and members of the VEX community by reminding our fellow teams and teammates of the VEX values that we hold dear. As a team, Whitney High School Robotics, Team 542 has created a list of VEX Values, which are some guidelines of gracious professionalism. We encourage all teams to implement these values, not only in robotics, but in daily life. Enjoy! :slight_smile:

These VEX VALUES are presented by Whitney High School Robotics Club VRC Team 542:

  • VEX Robotics Competition team members strive for excellence in all they do.
  • VRC team members demonstrate consistency and quality in their work.
  • They respect their mentors and coaches.
  • VRC team members put safety first.
  • VRC team members are responsible.
  • VRC team members are organized, mature, and are efficient time managers.
  • VRC team members exhibit dedication, a passion for robotics, hard work, enthusiasm and the spirit of cooperation (teamwork under pressure).
  • VRC team members act with integrity, honesty, honor and reliability.
  • VRC team members demonstrate sportsmanship. They interact with everyone in a positive, respectful, kind and polite manner and serve as a role model for all to follow.
  • VRC team members lead by example.
  • VRC team members are always ready to help others.
  • VRC team members design robots incorporating creative engineering solutions for the game challenges, including solid mechanics, robust build, dependable mechanisms and an innovative approach to playing the game.
  • VRC team members value education and STEM programs, successfully integrating Vex Robotics into their Science, Technology, Engineering and Math curriculums.
  • VRC team members are actively involved in their communities.
  • VRC team members respect individual differences.
  • VRC team members are global citizens, environmentally conscious and respectful of mother earth.

If you would like to contact us, feel free to e-mail us anytime at: whitneyrobotics@gmail.com

Thanks,
Lil’ Schmoe
Whitney High School Robotics Team 542
(GOOOOOOOOOOOO SCHMOES!!! :slight_smile: )

We would like to thank the staff at Innovation First and members of the VEX community by reminding our fellow teams and teammates of the VEX values that we hold dear. As a team, Whitney High School Robotics, Team 542 has created a list of VEX Values, which are some guidelines of gracious professionalism. We encourage all teams to implement these values, not only in robotics, but in daily life. Enjoy! :slight_smile:

These VEX VALUES are presented by Whitney High School Robotics Club VRC Team 542:

  • VEX Robotics Competition team members strive for excellence in all they do.
  • VRC team members demonstrate consistency and quality in their work. They respect their mentors and coaches.
  • VRC team members put safety first.
  • VRC team members are responsible.
  • VRC team members are organized, mature, and are efficient time managers.
  • VRC team members exhibit dedication, a passion for robotics, hard work, enthusiasm and the spirit of cooperation (teamwork under pressure).
  • VRC team members act with integrity, honesty, honor and reliability.
  • VRC team members demonstrate sportsmanship. They interact with everyone in a positive, respectful, kind and polite manner and serve as a role model for all to follow.
  • VRC team members lead by example.
  • VRC team members are always ready to help others.
  • VRC team members design robots incorporating creative engineering solutions for the game challenges, including solid mechanics, robust build, dependable mechanisms and an innovative approach to playing the game.
  • VRC team members value education and STEM programs, successfully integrating Vex Robotics into their Science, Technology, Engineering and Math curriculums.
  • VRC team members are actively involved in their communities.
  • VRC team members respect individual differences.
  • VRC team members are global citizens, environmentally conscious and respectful of mother earth.
    If you would like to contact us, feel free to e-mail us anytime at: whitneyrobotics@gmail.com

Thanks,
Lil’ Schmoe
(GOOOOOOOOOOOO SCHMOES!!! :slight_smile: )