How to tell when your opponent's robot was 100% built by mentors

We here at MentorBuilt know a few things about Mentor Built Robots. The number one question we have been asked over the years is "How do I tell if another team is really mentor built or not?" So our editorial board has created a 10 step, sure fire system for you to know if another team is really MentorBuilt.

1. Never talk to the students on their team.

This is critical. Whatever you do, never ask their students how they designed and built their robot. They may be able to explain to you how they went about their design and prototyping process and how they CADed their custom shifting gearbox but how can we take their word for it? Maybe their mentors just coached them on exactly what to say and taught them all the little design details that went into making their robot awesome. Talking to the students on their team will only lead you to understand how smart and passionate they are, and we both know you definitely don't want that.

2. Check the color of the mentor’s gloves.

Find a mentor from your opponent's team and ask for a high hive. They will think you are congratulating them for inspiring students and helping build such an awesome machine, but really just use that time to see if they are wearing white gloves. If we've learned anything from New England it's that to be a "real" FRC team, your mentors need to wear fashionable white gloves and make sure they don't get any gearbox grease or keyboard oil on their hands.

3. Was their reveal video...jaw dropping?

Did it leave you wondering how they built that in the same amount of time you could only barely get your robot driving? Well there is one easy answer; their mentors built their robot. Their mentors also filmed and edited the reveal video, they probably even drove the robot in the reveal video too. Remember to never ask the students on that team how much work they put into the reveal video, you already know the answer.

4. Does it look like they used CAD and CNC equipment?

Get out your calipers and check the tolerances on their bearing holes. Were they cut by a robot or did a student with a hole saw do it the "right" way? CAD programs, CAM programs, sheet metal design, 3D printers, CNC routers, laser cutters, and all the other CNC equipment is just way too complicated to ever teach a high school student, so their mentors must have built their robot. If you don't know how to do it, there is no way they could have learned how.

5. Is their robot powder coated?

Alright, well maybe their kids did learn to CAD or use a CNC router, but no way did they make there robot look that nice. Look across the field at their robot. Does it look like they took the time to color their robot to fit their team brand? Do they have custom anodized or powder coated parts? Any team that can afford to send their parts out for post processing or a $150 powder coating kit must be built by mentors.

6. Did they come up with a strategy and/or design that you didn't think of?

On kickoff, you and your team drew every idea you had on the white board: flying robots, 14 different variations on scissor lifts, all the old game animation robots, a pink arm. You thought of everything. But your opponent, they thought of something that never even crossed your mind. Their mentor must have done it, zero chance it was a high school student.

7. Did you see one of their mentors working on the robot in the pit?

Instead of worrying about assisting your team and doing what you can to help them succeed, for this one you need to spend all event watching another team work in their pit. Do it discreetly, read the pit banners in the pit next to theirs, or pit scout all the teams near them for way too long, you are on a stake out, and you don't want them to know. Your goal is to find and document one moment where a mentor touches the robot. Maybe something needed to get done quickly and the mentor was the best person on the team to do it and still make the match so their alliance partners can have the best possible partner. Maybe the mentor was instructing a student on a better way to perform a task. Maybe the mentor was just pitching in and helping out. None of that matters. What matters is that you saw an adult working on the robot and that must mean that none of the students have ever even helped build that bot.  

8. Did your former significant other leave you for someone on their team?

Sometimes you don't need proof, it's just personal.

9. Is their drive coach an adult?

You need to be sure about this, there are some pretty grown up looking high school students. Just to be safe, ask for ID. This is a high school competition and only high school students should be on the field. Coaches should be in the stands cheering on their team. That's why high school basketball coaches sit in stands with the parents for every game, and why high school football coaches never call the plays for their players.

10. Did they beat you?

This is the most important question and really the only one that matters. If the other team wins the tournament or gets the award you worked so hard for, its way easier to just convince yourself the other team is cheating instead of talking to them, learning from them, improving your team and coming back better next year. 


  1. How have I not found this site sooner.

    1. Because your friends didn't share. Don't be like your friends. Spread the gospel.


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