FIRST has been expanding rapidly in the Pacific Northwest for the past 5 years. We are excited to see the growth and enthusiasm about science, technology, and most importantly the students. We have been averaging about 30% growth year over year. To continue growing our community, we are about to start some changes in the way that FIRST is implemented.
Note that at the time of this posting, Oregon FIRST Robotics has primary responsibility for all things FIRST in Oregon. As part of our FRC responsibilities, we are teaming up with FIRSTWA to form a single large district. For the purposes of the following FRC discussion, you can just consider us the Pacific Northwest District. That will be close enough for now!
What changes are coming?
We have changes in FRC District Model for Washington and Oregon (pnw-first).
FRC District Model
One of our biggest changes will be changing how FRC operates. We believe that in 2014, we will begin operating FRC in the ‘District Model’ which means we will be doing smaller events (40 team events) in geographically diverse areas. There are many factors that go into this plan. We are focusing on what is the best way for us to be able to continue to delivery high quality programs for our students and community given the budgets and availability of resources to implement the program. Working with FIRST in New Hampshire, we have been asked to be early adopters of the district model. For the FRC program, we expect that our pnw-first district will include Washington and Oregon for the initial year. This means we will be staffing up a large number of geographically diverse volunteers.
Implementing the district model has a benefit to the students that they will be able to compete in two events rather than just one event for the same registration fee. Since the events are smaller, we will be increasing our capacity to the point where we can run multiple events on multiple weekends. We expect to be running two or three events per week across three weeks in March. So our biggest change, which also provides our biggest opportunities, is to increase the number of key volunteers who can work with a team to stage FRC events in their area.
This provides us a great opportunity to provide leadership opportunities for a large number of our volunteers. Rather than having just one group of key volunteers, are going to increase the key volunteer pool by a factor of about 8 times! The key volunteers needed include FTA’s, Judge Advisors, Pit Administrators, Head Referees, Field supervisors, Regional chairs, and a host of other positions. We are hoping that by increasing our capacity, we can sustain this outstanding program by keeping the time commitment for any one individual to something manageable.
Expectations for Key Volunteers
If you have interest in becoming a key volunteer for FIRST, we want to be upfront with you about the expectations and requirements for taking on this role. As a key volunteer, you will be expected to be part of the leadership team working hard to insure that our students and volunteers have an outstanding experience with FIRST. This means you will be expected to share ownership in the outcome of the program. We are expecting you to take personal responsibility for the quality of your area, including insuring that you are able to work well with the volunteers, to help train those who need training, and to be able to solve problems together with your team. Key volunteers often times have pre-season responsibilities, mandatory training sessions for some, and will be expected to participate in organizing committee meetings as scheduled by your team. Though the time commitment varies by position, some positions can consume several hours per week.
Key volunteers are also expected to be committed to a multi-year enlistment in leadership positions. We are asking that if you are stepping up to be one of our key volunteers that you consider this. We want you to join us for at least a couple of years. While we appreciate all of our volunteers greatly, key volunteers are part of the leadership of the FIRST community and expected to help maintain the continuity of the program. You will be working with some people who have an unusually strong commitment to the FIRST program. Honestly, some of us fully expect to be part of this community for several decades. If you feel strongly about the positive outcomes of FIRST, we absolutely welcome you to join us in a key volunteer role.
We will be happy to speak with you further about key volunteer roles. If you let us know, we will contact you and allow you to get further details on what would be expected, answer questions about anything you need to ask, and we will also help find the right position for you. We expect that some of the roles will be over subscribed. If that happens, we will see if we can find a position for you.
If you are interested in volunteering, please sign up at the FIRSTWA site: http://www.firstwa.org/Volunteer/KeyVolunteers/KeyVolunteerApplication.aspx
What are the Key Volunteer Roles?
|Area||Key Position||Description of Responsibilities|
|Field Operations||Field Supervisor||Responsible for field setup and maintenance, helping with team interactions on the field, tear down|
|Field Operations||FTA||Overall responsibility for field operations, setup, electronics, game elements, scheduling|
|Field Operations||FTAA||Assistant to the FTA responsible for troubleshooting, assisting in field operations, insuring the game operates on time and on schedule|
|Field Operations||Head Referee||Responsible for managing the volunteer referees, training those referees, and being the point person for all game play decisions on the field.|
|Field Operations||Lead Queuer||Responsible for keeping teams organized and ready to join the field|
|Field Operations||Scorekeeper||Responsible for operation of the game, timing, scoring, and troubleshooting of game system operation|
|Production||Audio Lead||Responsible for all aspects of audio for the show including equipment setup, operation of equipment, integration with other show elements|
|Production||Technical Director||Leader of the production team. Responsible for the appearance and operation of all audio and video production elements, coordinating with show operations, calling queues, stage management, planning and resources|
|Production||Video Lead||Responsible for all aspects of video for the show including equipment setup, operation of equipment, projection equipment, video streaming, integration with other show elements|
|Regional||Catering||Responsible for arranging and feeding the volunteer staff while at the event.|
|Regional||Event Manager||Responsible for arranging the venue and managing the relationship with the host school and staff.|
|Regional||Judge Advisor||Manages the judging process completely. Helps recruit, train, and direct our volunteer judges. Helps organize and schedule deliberations and keeps records of all awards|
|Regional||Lead Robot Inspector||Responsible for insuring that all of the robot inspectors are trained, assigned to appropriate teams, keeping records of which teams have passed inspection, and making final rulings and decisions on borderline rule interpretations|
|Regional||Lead Safety Inspector||Responsible for training and directing the safety inspectors during the event and for awarding certain awards.|
|Regional||Loading Manager||Responsible for managing the arrival and departure plan for the teams. Helping direct how the teams load into and out of the building, logisitics for materials, and managing a team of volunteers to assist in this task.|
|Regional||Machine Shop Lead||Manages the machine shop area to insure teams have the ability to make repairs using our equipment. Helps recruit, organize, and direct volunteer machinists. Provides excellent technical assistance to teams|
|Regional||Pit Admin||Responsible for being the direct interface between the teams and the rest of the FIRST staff. Handles registrations, team communications, distribution and collection of materials, manages a staff of people who provide information to the teams.|
|Regional||Regional Chair||Responsible for insuring a high quality event for every student, volunteer, mentor, and spectator. Helps direct, recruit, and manage volunteers. Responsible for overseeing all planning, execution of the event.|
|Regional||Transportation Lead||Responsible for handling all of the logistics in getting materials into and out of the venue, including trucking of fields and supplies|
|Regional||Volunteer Coordinator||Responsible for coordinating every volunteer by insuring they have adequate resources, training, and supervision. Assigns roles, manages a large number of volunteers gracefully|
|Show Operations||Game Announcer||Responsible for all announcements, game play by play, and creating an exciting and engaging event for all students and spectators|
|Show Operations||Master of Ceremonies||On stage representative of FIRST, announces the teams, and sets the tone for the day. Makes introductions, live announcements, and creates an exicting and engaging event for all students and spectators|