And so it begins

I hope so… I will ensure our Judge Advisor is fully aware of all the pre-designed bots out there, so teams can be evaluated on their use of design process accordingly. The team that is not truthful about their inspiration should be categorically denied any judges award. A team that shows how they started with a pre-designed bot, and went through a process to make improvements, is another story. But some teams care only about winning the event, not about judged awards.


I also want to clarify. This is not in any way bashing Ben. I think he is pretty great and super helpful to those in the community.


They released code for their bots in the past. However, with Vexcode IQ Blocks I wouldn’t really call any of the programming “hard.”

We’ve done this 1000 times, and I’m generally just in the camp of “adults shouldn’t build robots.” Student centered policy says that adults shouldn’t build models. So I don’t.

However, this is their business model. I make money doing robotics myself, but I think I adhere to the student centered policy.

Do a lot of students need inspiration to make a good bot? Absolutely. Can students provide that inspiration? Absolutely. I think we should leave it to the kids, but there’s nothing we can do about it. The Lipperverse is very good business for the Lippers, so they will keep doing it and honestly I really can’t begrudge them for that. I don’t know their situation. A lot of people do a lot worse for a lot less.

However, I will note that they also provide a solution where there is a need. There is next to nothing out there on building complex like there is for legos. There is no general knowledgebase article that really goes into the different launchers you can build with VEX IQ. Students and coaches are left with nothing to work with other than what they can find online, and at least there is something out there to get them started.


I’ve had this conversation more times than I care to admit. And I used to feel very strongly in one direction or another. I would like to share my thoughts here publicly because I feel that it may be a new way of looking at this subject. My thoughts do not reflect the thoughts or actions of anyone or anything other than myself.

There is no right way to build a robot. There is no right way to be a mentor. There is no right way to be a student. There is no right way to be a coach. There is no right way to learn.

By now, we should all understand that everyone is different. Everyone learns different. Everyone likes different things. Everyone has a different point of view. Everyone has had a different experience in this world.

This argument always comes down to the how. How to teach. How to build a robot. How to learn. How to coach. How a team should be run. I don’t think the how matters. I don’t think the how matters at all really. What we should be arguing about is the results.
Did the students learn something that they didn’t know before? Did they learn how to research? Design? Talk to other students? Talk to adults? Did they learn what it’s like to fail? To succeed? Did they learn how to work in a team? By themselves? With adults? Did they learn to believe in their ideas? Themselves? Others? Did the students make friends? Did they have fun? Did we all chase excellence?

I personally do not care how the students get to the point of learning. As long as it was all safe, appropriate and morally sound. The point of robotics, and most other extracurricular activities really, is to create an opportunity for learning and growth in a student’s life that school alone cannot provide.

I have only been a mentor for 11 years, three of those years I was still in highschool. Over those 11 years I have been a part of 8 teams across 5 programs. And in that time I have learned that every group of students is different. Every student has unique strengths and unique aspects that they may need to work on. I have been a different kind of mentor in at least 8 different ways, and I’m sure it’s actually more. Sometimes I have to be more involved in the build side of things than I would normally like. Sometimes I don’t have to even pick up the robot a single time. Sometimes I have to sit with a student while we write each line of code together. Sometimes I wasn’t 100% what langauge we programmed in because the students just took off running with the software side of things. Sometimes we had to give up on designs that we felt proud of in order to hit a deadline. Sometimes the students unfortunately had to learn the hard way that when we didn’t work hard enough, or enough at all, that compromises need to be made. But they still learned something.

A team can and should be ran in a way that most benefits the students on the team. Sometimes that means that following step by step instructions to building an okay robot. Sometimes that means having the students run nearly independently. It’s all different and it always will be different. Again there is no right way to do things.

It is the mentors and coaches role to find out what way to teach is best.

It is the mentor and coaches responsibility to find the most beneficial way to allow students to learn and grow. And to do everything in their power to give the students that opportunity. Having more information and resources available to do that job is never ever a bad thing.

We should celebrate any time someone provides resources to make our job easier.

I’ve said it once, I’ll say it again. More information is rarely a bad thing. And again, it is the mentors and coaches role to find out what way to teach is best with the resources we’ve been provided.

And to the students (and some adults too), remember that mentors are people too. And we mess up sometimes. We’re trying our best to provide the best experience possible, but sometimes we fail and need to learn too.

Sorry for the novel.


Bravo good sir. Appreciate the insight.

No wonder your better than drow.



You’ve angered the god, we’re all doomed…


Dillon and Brandon perform two very different roles on this forum, and directly comparing them is to do each a disservice.


Correction Only one god.


Oh God back to the copied YouTube robots thread. As someone who fought in this war, there is no good turnout… for anyone.

edit: Because of how close it is and I have seen many similar opinions, here is the thread for pitching in - Copied YouTube robots


I really want to meet this guy, I just want to tell him all of the lives he is starting on the wrong trajectory with this idea (insulting idea not person, Vex don’t ban me).

I certainly evolved my thinking… some. Adult influence on competitive robot designs is definitely not settled and I appreciate the discussion. There’s a mute button over there if you’re not interested.

I do really appreciate your perspective, but I think you’re missing the point. Are there wrong ways? There are certainly wrong ways to be a coach or mentor. We’ve been using the term “dad bots” for ages, especially in IQ.

Someone could release detailed instructions on how to build an easy to drive, high performing robot and provide the code as well. I don’t think anyone is going to do that, but we would all agree that’s a bad thing to do. It would be bad for the community as a whole to see true clone bots lining the finals. It’s not all good and these discussions are about where that line should (or even could) be drawn.


Well, nothing easier, just pay $37 to join their live webminar. You can supposedly even ask for a refund after, “no questions asked”.

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What about a repository online that shows different mechanisms and how basic coding would work in place of the metabot? That resource could be non-game specific and continue to grow the programs for all in the community. I strongly feel that is more important that copying a online bot or just building the Hero bot and not upgrading. Most of the students I work with don’t have engineering skills yet. If there was a library of options to explore I believe it would be a huge catalyst in seeing different competition designs versus the “Dadbot” or metabots.

If something like this already exists and I am just late to the game please point me in the right direction.


that is a great resource. However there seems to be a disconnect. For example, How could a 5th grader design a shooting mechanism. As noted it does not need to be game specific. Just needs to be more than what is already available.

Although it is more FRC centric, the NASA RAP Design Guide gives an overview of just about every style mechanism you’d ever want on a competition robot.


Wouldn’t it be great for RECF to publish a model solution for the challenge early to midseason? They design the game around a model solution anyway. So why not just release it, let kids rush to reverse engineer it prior to worlds? This would eliminate a lot of frustrations and failures for the kids. And all the kids can have a competitive robot and not have to persevere through failure after failure after failure. What’s the point in kids failing anyway?

Ok if all the above sounds silly and ridiculous, then really any form of adult inspired “solution” should be out of bounds. I am all for adults teaching specific mechanisms and concepts, but totally against adults providing a “solution”.

That is just my $0.02. Cheers.


Citation needed…