Two Feet of Snow?

Blog Date: 
Friday, February 8, 2013 - 13:11

"snOMG" by thisisbossi (CC BY-SA)

(Photo by thisisbossi copyright (c) 2010; made available under a Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 license)

I don’t know how many of you have ever seen a winter storm deliver two feet of snow, but in the Northeast, it looks like that’s what we’re in for over the next few days.  Right now, predicted snow totals for Boston are 24 to 30 inches.  If you‘ve never experienced a big snowstorm, they can be a little fun, at least if you are safe at home.  You get a day off from school, everything turns white, it gets strangely quiet outside, and the world seems to be put on ‘pause’ – at least for a short time.

One thing big snow storms are not good for is helping FRC Teams stick to their build schedules.  I expect teams in the affected area will be missing build time over the weekend, possibly even in to next week depending on the size of the storm and power availability at build sites.  Every time there is a storm affecting a significant number of teams, we get asked the question - can we have an extension to our build time?  The answer to this question is – no.

Every team faces crises.  A mentor may become ill.  An important sponsor may suddenly decide to stop funding the team.  You may even be kicked out of your build site mid-season.  This is just like what adults face in the real world.   You may be working on an important project at your company when, unexpectedly, the team leader resigns, the delivery date for your project gets bumped up, or a key component goes out of stock.

The real issue is how you, and your team, respond to adversity.  Do you focus your energy on the person you think caused the trouble?  Shake your fist at the weather?  Curse your fate?  Or do you sit down, roll up your sleeves, assess where you are, and come up with a plan to keep moving toward the goal despite the setback?

When we get a big snowstorm up here in New Hampshire, we buckle down for the blizzard and wait it out. We make sure our friends and families are safe, and offer support to those who aren’t.  And when the snow stops, we take out our shovels and get to work.  Whether it’s two inches or two feet of snow, it’s amazing how quickly a few friends working together can clear a big path.

Every team, at some point, is going to face their ‘Two Feet of Snow’. How are you planning to respond when it happens to you?

I’ll blog again soon.



I agree with every word you say about how a team should react to adversity. However, in the real world a team is working for a commercial company and usually not in direct competition with worldwide teams who do not have that adversity.

FIRST tries to give a "level playing field" with its intricate rules for building the robot. Losing build time takes away from this level playing field. How about giving a team n number of days to build? They can work any number of hours during those days. If they stop a day or two after other teams they have still only used the n days for building.

That would be a logistical nightmare... Ask for the build season to be in Spring, during AP exams instead.

Where I live in Northern Utah, we've had to cancel several build days due to the weather, we've had to it every year. School was even reluctantly canceled because of it, which hasn't happened in decades. There wasn't a blog post about it, nor did anyone complain. We came back after and our robot is nearing completion with one more week to go. Future jobs won't give you a number of days and you can come in whenever, there's deadlines. Adjust to your environment and be more flexible.

If you want to go for a truly level field, you will need to account for the fact that some teams are bigger than others. You'll end up assigning total man hours. Except some people work harder than others. Maybe total amount of time someone can be useful? Or we could outfit all the teams with force heaters and assign total work aloud? One unilateral date is the best way to go, even with acts of God.

In the (I believe) 2010 season there was snow like this, and we were given 10 lbs extra to bring into our events. Is it also possible that we will be getting this again??

No rules changes are being made as a result of this storm.

Teams were allow to work on parts till up to the first week of competition.

Please see rule R21 in the FRC Game Manual.

I understand the summary above about pushing through adversity. But even businesses require re-planning at times. Especially given a complete travel ban. Missing a day here and there is one thing...and those can be "managed through". However, we are talking about at least 5 and possibly more consecutive days missed for many of these teams. That is not possible to make up and work through with only 6 weeks. With students so passionate and stressed to get their robots completed, your rules now put them in harm's way because they and their mentors will take travel risks that they should not.

No FRC rules require the robot to be worked on for a minimum amount of time.

I agree with everything you say. Here in the south it takes a lot _LESS_ than that to shut us down, and we too have lost a day or two to the weather this build season (and it seems to happen every build season). Good luck with your recovery.

I think FIRST has made a good decision. Every team faces problems, and a special exception shouldn't be made just because this particular incident involved more teams than average. Plus you can't really give northeastern teams extra time without also giving the same to those unaffected.

Also, snOMG might be the funniest thing I've read this year.

For teams with vast resources and robots built by pros, the loss of a couple days may not be crucial. For teams with limited resources, this time *is* crucial; the missed days hurt us badly. If FIRST wants to keep expanding, they better start understanding the perspective of the limited-resource teams. It's easy to say "work harder," but we are always working full-speed; there is no more "rolling up the sleeves" that we can do. But from my perspective, FIRST has never been about a level playing field. We don't mind competing against the big boys, but we would like a fighting chance.

I feel sorry for the students on any teams that may not be doing most or all the 'on robot' work themselves. They're really missing out. The value in FRC comes from the complete journey, not just how good your robot is compared to others once you get to competition. We should all keep this in mind.

What Rule change do to weather did FIRST make during the 2010 build season?

It happens everywhere. In 2010 our rookie team lost the first full week of build season due to a snow storm. Teams in Alabama lost 10 days of school that same year. With the entire build season happening during the winter months, all teams should expect such delays and plan for them knowing full well that FIRST will not make accommodate weather delays.

I understand where everyone is coming from, having lived in several different parts of the country. I think it is interesting that FIRST says, "Yes, you have 6 weeks to design test, and build", but can not come up with some way to accommodate for those with winter weather preventing them to work. I see where those who are up north would be able to learn to make accommodations for things like this, but for those in the south, this winter weather is not something we see on a regular basis and is not something that we plan into our season because it may only happen once very 5-10 years...

Some teams are looking at snow tonight/tomorrow which may force the cancellation of schools Does anyone know what should those teams do about bag & tag and/or crating the robot if they are forbidden to go to school tomorrow?

I realize that FIRST trying to set the build time to make sure teams learn that compromises are required. This is very good thing to learn, but I believe that FRC is taking it to the extreme. Our school system lost 7 week days and two weekends of time. I was not concerned with 1or 2 days missed in past years and did not ask for any rule changes. This season was extreme and I know in the private sector they be upset but an extension on the deadline would be granted to protect the goals of the project. The decision that was made did nothing except lower the teams to compete meaningfully.

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