Symposium Session Topics

Gracious Professionalism on Steroids: Demonstrating Sanity in an Insane World


Presenter: Ed Barker

Description: Gracious Professionalism is part of the ethos of FIRST. It’s a way of doing things that encourages high-quality work, emphasizes the value of others, and respects individuals and the community. We will discuss how to implement Gracious Professionalism in contemporary culture: how to ground ourselves and develop a rational expectation of self and organization, setting healthy expectations and boundaries, and promoting a culture that respects others and inspires individuals to a higher purpose.

This season, the FIRST community celebrates the 50th anniversary of the landing on the moon. This gives us an opportunity not only how President John F. Kennedy challenged us to achieve this historical event, but also to reflect on his call to serve others. Before attending this session, please view this video from Harvard, celebrating JFK’s call to service  and come prepared to discuss President Kennedy’s speech and with ideas on how, in the spirit of Gracious Professionalism, we can all better serve those inside and outside of the FIRST community.


Coding Outside the Norm (9:00am)

Presenters:  Devansh Yerpude, Anish Ganga, Berkan Ottlik

Description:  This session revolves around moving the technical skills learned in programming outside of just robot related programming. FRC robot programming offers unparalleled experience for students, but moving programming outside of this typical norm serves to only grow on that experience. Student’s interested in programming are now exposed to not just Java or Python, but to a whole array of programming languages, and industry level skills. Website Dev, Mobile App Development, Outreach Projects, and even Excel skills all come to mind. Not only does this allow students to gain more STEM experiences, but it also helps in the team’s overall growth.


Autonomous Motion Planning (9:00am)

Presenter: Marius Juston

Description: An introduction as to how Walton Robotics plans, creates, and implements motions in autonomous mode.


Applications of Data Analysis (9:00am)

Presenters:  Georgia Tech RoboJackets

Description: Learn how to use data analysis to win matches and competitions in FIRST. Learn the basics of FRC metrics and data analysis to creating custom power rankings and match prediction systems.


Chairman’s Chat (10:00am)

Presenter:  Ed Barker

Description: This is a presentation and an interactive discussion. We will discuss the Chairman’s process and how to construct an effective Chairman’s program. We will discuss short and long-term objectives and strategies. We will examine how to develop initiatives, document and collect evidence, and how to structure documentation and presentations. Not only will this knowledge be useful in supporting the pursuit of the Chairman’s Award, but it will also be useful in gaining support for the team. Participants should read the Chairman’s Award criteria and executive summary questions prior to attending this session.


Tips and Tricks from your FTAs (10:00am)

Presenter:  Rick Kosbab

Description:  FTAs watch a lot of matches! We see what breaks, and what works. This session is a chance to hear what we commonly see break, talk about how to avoid common problems, and get some of our ideas on how to make more reliable FRC Robots. This is an interactive session so you can share your experiences as well!


Bumpers – They Aren’t Hard! (10:00am)

Presenters: Jeff Rees and Charles D’Englere

Description: Bumpers are required for a robot to compete.  Learn how to build a set of rules compliant bumpers and make your – and the inspector’s life easy!


FRC 101 for Rookie Teams, Mentors, and Members (10:00am)

Presenter:  Lisa Hatch

Description:  Are you a new FRC Mentor? Part of a new FRC Team, or a Rookie student? If you have questions about the FRC Season, or don’t even know what you don’t know, this class is for you. We’ll cover everything from to how to prepare for Build Season, to how to manage a team from an admin perspective, to what to do at Competitions, and more. (If you’re interested in this class, and have specific “need to know” items, please email Lisa Hatch at so she can have resources ready for you.)  Mentors, coaches, parent helpers, and students welcome.


Lets Talk Offseason FMS! (11:00am)

Presenter:  Rick Kosbab

Did you know FIRST provides a modified version of the FMS Teams can use for testing and off-season use? In this session come learn about the FMS, How Offseason FMS can help you, and finally a live demonstration of Offseason FMS! The Offseason FMS is as close as you can get to simulate an actual field!


How NOT To Pass Inspection! (11:00am)

Presenters:  Jeff Rees and Charles D’Englere

All robots must pass a technical and safety inspection.  Here’s the easy way to be sure your robot doesn’t pass that inspection!


DFM – Design for Manufacturability (11:00am)

Presenter:  Kell Robotics

Description: This presentation will cover design practices needed in order to use CNC manufacturing processes, primarily parts manufacturing using waterjet technology, and downstream processes such as metal forming and bending. It is recommended that teams using water jet or other CNC processes send at least one representative, preferably with CAD experience. Participants are encouraged to bring their computers with CAD software in order to review and practice the DFM process.


Scouting and Data Analysis – How to Pick a Winning Alliance (11:00am)

Presenter:  Aleem Lakdawala

Description:   Being able to build, program, and wire a robot are all things that almost every team knows how to do. There is, however, more to FIRST competitions than showing up with a robot. Teams must also be able to compete to win. A major factor that sets apart teams such as those in California and Texas from most Georgia teams isn’t just the physical quality of their robots; it’s their ability to create algorithms which determine the best way to win. In order for Georgia to advance to the next tier of complexity, teams need to create an organized plan to win rather than just guessing at who to pick and which strategy to use. While there are teams with a scouting program in place already, the concept is not widespread enough yet. 4 Georgia teams have been to Einstein in the last 2 years – it is time for us to go to the next level.


Running an Effective Robotics Event (1:00pm)

Presenters:  Jon Welsch, Ryan Henson, Emil Decker

Description: With the explosive growth of both FLL and FTC, there has become an increasing need to hold more and more competitions. Running a robotics competition can be a daunting task. Everyone can run a good event, but it often takes stumbling through mistakes for several years. After running robotics events for the past decade, we want to help you learn from our mistakes, so that your event can be the best it can possibly be.


Getting Started with FIRST Robotics (FRC) Programming (1:00pm)

Presenters:  Gary Lewis

Description: This presentation is intended for mentors and team members who do not have experience with the specifics of programming for FRC robots. It is suitable for participants with, or without, other programming experience. It will review setup of computers and robot, networking, sensors and encoders, and control of motors and compressed air systems, along with a discussion of Iterative versus Command-Based programming base-types. This is not a basic programming course, but a “jumpstart” reference for that purpose will be provided and briefly discussed.


Dance Lessons for the Common Dance Songs of FIRST (1:00pm)

Presenters:  Georgia Tech RoboJackets

Description:  Learn the dance moves that will make you the star of the show!


Motion Control in FRC and Beyond (1:00pm)

Presenters:  Georgia Tech RoboJackets

Description:  Learn advanced motion control techniques in FRC, as well as how RoboJackets implement motion control in their RoboCup robots.


Advanced FIRST Robotics Controls (FRC) Programming (2:00pm)

Presenters:  Gary Lewis

Description: A presentation of selected advanced programming topics, suitable for participants who have basic programming knowledge and who have successfully programmed an FRC robot. The FRC Command-Based programming base-type will be discussed in detail and used. A significant part of the presentation will involve the use of PID (Proportional, Integrative, Derivative) control systems, which are essential for smooth operation (or sometimes any operation) of systems using position or velocity sensing.


Welding for FRC (2:00pm)

Presenter:  Noah Mintor

Description: Welding is a very complex subject. We are going to break it down and help students and mentors learn the basics of metallurgy, how to stay safe welding, and specifics for welding in FRC. We will also be giving away several pieces of Personal Protective Equipment for some students. This session is limited to one student and one mentor per team.


Robotics At Georgia Tech (2:00pm)

Presenters:  Georgia Tech RoboJackets

Description:  Georgia FIRST is not the only place to find amazing robots!  Learn what opportunities exist within Georgia Tech to continue your love of all things robots.


Fundraising 101 (2:00pm)

Presenter:  Connie Haynes

Description:  Fundraising for FIRST teams can be a daunting task.  This session will offer advice for identifying potential sponsors, engaging them throughout the season and retaining them for years to come.  We will also unpack the ‘Fundraising Toolkits’ provided by FIRST.


How to Create a Sustainable Outreach Program and Run Events Efficiently (3:00pm)

Presenters:  Shayan Boghani and Kevin Jaiwant

Description: A guide to all aspects of outreach, both in the FIRST community as well as in the local community to promote STEM/STEAM education. Learn how to start or expand an outreach program, efficiently run events, and conduct local demonstrations.


Approaches to Fundraising and Sponsor Acquisition (3:00pm)

Presenters:  Georgia Tech RoboJackets

Description:  Learn how to identify approach and secure sponsors for meaningful fundraising for your team.


Computer Vision in FRC and Beyond (3:00pm)

Presenters:  Georgia Tech RoboJackets

Description: Learn how CV is implemented not only in FRC, but also in autonomous driving.