President's Circle

President's Circle

By Kirsten M.

As many FIRST teams will acknowledge, there are organizational issues with which every FIRST Robotics team wrestles. Recruiting mentors, finding corporate sponsors, and how to survive the six-week build of a competition robot are some of the hottest topics.

In 2007, FIRST turned to the best resources it could find: its own teams! Team 1816-The Green Machine was named one of 20 teams to take part in what was then a new initiative called the FIRST President’s Circle. These 20 teams worked with FIRST throughout the 2008 season to identify resources that would help rookie teams grow into successful, long-term robotics teams. Those results were posted on the FIRST website until 2012. 

“The President’s Circle was designed to draw upon the experience of older teams to help start new teams as well as support teams that were in their second or third years,” says Dan Purdy, Team 1816’s 2008 Outreach lead. Participants in the President’s Circle were selected upon submission of a video to the FIRST Channel on YouTube that focused on a specific topic selected by FIRST. In 2007, teams were asked to submit a two-minute video aimed at inspiring, recruiting, and mentoring new teams. Team 1816 was the first team to upload a video, which illustrated the team’s involvement with the start-up of seven rookie teams in 2007.

The second video challenge in 2009 asked teams for a commercial that would demonstrate the irresistible appeal of being part of a FIRST Robotics team. This video, scripted, filmed and edited by Team 1816 members, focused on the direct benefits of being a member of a FIRST team.

In June 2009, The Green Machine joined with other FIRST teams via conference call to discuss best fundraising practices. One of the suggestions offered by Team 1816 is to personally visit companies. “It’s not enough to call and leave a message,” says Dan P. “Most people find it hard to turn down your request to talk to them when you’re standing right there.” For more of Team 1816’s suggestions, click here.

For teams searching for answers to those tough problems, “they should know that any team that has been a part of the President's Circle is able to help and mentor them,” says Mark Lawrence, operations director, The Green Machine. “If they get stuck, contacting any of those teams will lead to assistance.