One of the things that bothered me in that thread was people not understanding RECF and VEX.
VEX makes the robot parts. It was started by two guys that are trying to build the best possible parts at a decent price to inspire roboteers. They have an amazing product line and they are used by thousands of schools around the world. Competition robotics is their passion, but educational robotics are their business. I work with about 50 VEXIQ teams in a local school district. But each High School has 40 or more VIQ kits that they use in classroom settings. I’m going to assume they make a profit.
RECF is a non-profit with a mission to get roboteers interested in STEM careers via competition robotics. RECF doesn’t make a profit. They get grants and donations (that’s what Dan was doing when he got stuck in this, finding ways to pay for all of this,) RECF sponsor events and put on the Worlds competition. They support a ton of out reach to get more and more roboteers involved (see the amazing Mia program for Girl Scouts) They help people that can’t run events on their own to run events.
So when you say VEX robotics, you are talking about the cool VEX parts. When you say VEX Robotics Competitions you are talking RECF. There is a difference, make sure you know what it is.
Competitions other than Worlds are held by Event Partners. People like me that donate way too many hours. We run the event with a staff of volunteers. And those people are not paid. In the 2018-19 season I was the primary person for 4 VRC events, including the dual MS / HS Delmarva Championship and help at three other VRC events. I also ran 7 VIQ events, including last weekends event with 45 teams and helped at two other VIQ events. I had help with over a hundred different volunteers at those events across the season.
It’s a huge effort to pull of California Championships or Delmarva Championships. Lots of time, money and effort to creating something that is great for the roboteers. And what cranks me off is when I see posts by people that think they are entitled to "professional (fill in the blanks). Or people that are willing to throw stones (or large rocks) to people that are offering their valuable time to help their children.
I have conversations with parents all the time: “Of the three of us, you the parent, the teacher or me a guy running a robotics program, who is the most invested in your child’s success?” In 99% of the cases, I get “Me, the parent” . In that case, why are you not helping out at the events? Why do I only see you at 5:55PM dropping your roboteer off and 8:15PM when you pick them up going “Sorry I’m late”
People put a lot of effort into VEX competition robotics. My local rep puts in 100’s of hours of overtime. Dan puts in extra time, I get emails from him at all sorts of weird hours. I put in an average of 1200 hours a year. How many hours are you volunteering with your local teams and local events?
I am known in both PA and Delmarva for being a mentor. I treat everyone that I have direct contact with the utmost in respect and kindness. Roboteers from schools that can’t afford parts have them “just show up”. Teams that want a few extra hours of build time, I’m there to help them be successful. I work with roboteers with learning disabilities and we figure out ways to make them successful. I work with parents that are invested in their roboteers to get them set up with home school or neighborhood teams.
I have zero time and zero feelings for parents that think they are entitled. I have a long history, starting when I was a Little League umpire, of dealing with parents that think that “The ump sucks, throw them out”. I have dragged more than one parent into a game, and said “Ok, you have better vision than me, you call balls and strikes”. I have forced parents that have been abusive to VEX Competition referees to referee at events or their roboteers couldn’t attend. Here is your stripes, here is the rules, here is the game training videos, be here at 8:30 for the pre-event discussion. And I have reached into my pocket and pulled out the cost for an event, handed it to a parent and said “Here is your money back, let’s pack up your team and you can go home since this event is so poorly run.”
I don’t have a love affair with RECF, in fact they will tell you flat out that I’m one of their most difficult event partners. But they (I hope) will tell you that few partners are more passionate than I am about the program. I have a huge award that says “Mentor of the Year” on it. I work for the best possible experience. I have defied RECF people on event rulings to give teams a chance to replace a battery when they were not allowed to get a time out. I’m a fan of B01, but have stopped and restarted matches when the robot actually wasn’t ready.
That’s my story. But you know what, I’m a small fraction of the 1000’s of people around the planet that support VEX Robotics Competitions. My 1,200 hours is a small fraction of the 300,000 plus hours that are donated. (And let me tell you that TIME is a big deal. I can get more money, I can get more stuff, I can’t make any more TIME). We are doing this for YOUR roboteers.
I applaud Dan for standing up and letting people throw rocks at him.
For the people that flagged my post in the other thread, it’s fine. I was interested in the 23 hearts that it got. I was flattered by the messages that I got and the emails I received over “thanks for saying that”.
If while you are banging on the keyboard and the voice in your head is saying “we are entititled” you are not. You are part of the problem. And unless you are volunteering way more hours than is sane (ie not an hour selling concessions) you are part of the problem. We are in this community together, add your value and help. Your roboteer spent 480 hours building a world class robot, why can’t you spend 10 helping events be amazing?