Overly Involved Mentors

What do you do when your opponents dad built his robot?

This year, I am seeing heavy indications of mentor involvement on some of the teams at competition. On one team, the mentor had to be asked multiple times to stop tightening screws on his student’s robot. It is obvious to almost everyone that he built a large portion of his student’s robot. Furthermore, the mentor shouts commands from the sideline causing “match-affecting” strategy changes.

I am aware that there are several rules against such activity, but what are real-world applications of these rules. The Tower Takeover manual is too vague to define what is acceptable and what is not.


Concerns of such nature can be communicated to the EP of the event or the RECF Regional Support Manager.

However, I would be very cautious to jump to conclusions. There have been instances of allegations wrongfully being brought up, when in fact the robot was design, build and programmed by the team. Simply because the robot outperforms what is expected for a particular age/experience group does not mean it has not be build by students. You may be in the company of truly great engineers and they should be celebrated.


The game manual may be vague in this, but the student-centered policy document and the code of conduct are not.

Side-line match play strategy appears to be clearly listed as red. I normally wouldn’t do much about this, though, since if it is egregious enough the head ref will call them on it. I suppose if you feel like it consistently gives the team an advantage (rather than just being annoying), and no one in charge seems to notice it, you could mention to a ref to keep an eye out for that particular person/team. If the issue is noted, the first step is usually the head ref advising the mentor of the issue right then or soon after and requesting they stop. At that point, they are usually monitored more closely.

Screw tightening, IMO, would be yellow and you should just let it go.

More in-depth work on the robot at the competition is borderline and how to react to it really depends on what you’re trying to get out of the situation.

  • Do you just want them to be aware of the rule? You or your mentor could just go over and strike up a friendly conversation and tell them. Or maybe you could keep some copies of those rules around and leave them highlighted on the pit table?
  • Are you trying to make sure they don’t get a judged award? I’d just leave it to the judges, who can usually figure out what the kids know in the interview.
  • Do you want someone in charge to talk to / yell at them and advise them to stop? I guess if that’s your goal then you need to tell someone in charge (EP) that you think there’s an issue.
  • Do you feel they have an unfair competition advantage and need to be penalized in a major way? Generally, my teams just build their robot to the best of their abilities and don’t worry about how other people build. We are in a very competitive region anyway, so we’ll be up against super impressive robots regardless of who builds them (we’ve met fantastic competitors of all ages). We also shoot for regionals at a minimum with the plan to go to worlds, where high level bots built by teenagers is the norm, so it’s good to face off with better bots. If you really feel the need to make it a big deal, see below.

This is not an allegation I would make against a specific team without clear evidence backing it up, and it is not something I would put out on a public forum. It is a clear violation with potentially large consequences, and one that I recommend you discuss with your RSM if you truly believe it is an issue that needs to be pursued.


Anybody wanna link that doc that was made with the red yellow and green columns?




If you want to know everything, simply click them all and read them. I did this sever times when I was first starting out. You will impress people in strange ways at strange times…