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Helping new buggy teams - Buggy Alumni Association

Helping new buggy teams

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Jmohin
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Helping new buggy teams

Postby Jmohin » Tue Oct 05, 2010 1:10 am

Hey all, I know it's been talked about a lot, but what is BAA/ BAA members doing to help new teams?

As alums, I'm sure we'd all rather help our own orgs instead, but for instance ROTC is making a venture into buggyland this year, and from the few chairmen's meetings I've attended there's a lot to know.

Ideas?

PS - "buggyland" - n. - a magical place that usurps productivity and rational thought, and regular sleeping patterns.

Edit: it's very possible people are doing things and I'm super out of the loop.

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swiftsam
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Re: Helping new buggy teams

Postby swiftsam » Tue Oct 05, 2010 1:20 am


pdesiderio
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Re: Helping new buggy teams

Postby pdesiderio » Tue Oct 05, 2010 2:22 am

I think a really great way that cmubuggy can help out new teams is to serve as a match maker, getting the leadership of these new teams in contact with alumni willing to help out. For me having a group of people that I could shoot questions to as problems arose made the whole process significantly easier and I would like to think allowed CIA to build some more institutional memory. It seems like new teams don't really know who to turn to with questions given the degree of secrecy in the sport, so they find managing a team frustrating and they lose interest. Having some alumni mentors for new teams might allow for a more direct transfer of knowledge, getting new teams up to speed and hopefully creating a more competitive field come raceday.

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Abby
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Re: Helping new buggy teams

Postby Abby » Tue Oct 05, 2010 12:12 pm

I hooked up the NROTC kids with Andy B. as an alumni mentor back in the summer, who has also volunteered to try to help them track down a buggy to buy. Not sure how far that has gone, but we had the same thought and I think that a new team could not possibly be in better hands.

I also heard that the AFROTC had expressed interest in joining up but that didn't go very far, so I'm not sure which venture you're referring to. If they need a mentor I would be happy to try to find them one. Or that could be a total figment of my old person imagination.

I'm also writing a 'Buggy 101' thing that walks a new team through the basics and covers things that are not mentioned in the rules (i.e. what a push captain is and why you need one, how to not piss off Sweepstakes, etc.) and practical interpretation of the rules (i.e. what drivers should learn and focus on during course walks, how to prep for a safety, etc.). If you're interested contributing to the Buggy 101, I would be more than happy to talk to you about that. It's also going to be up I think in wiki form at some point in the not distant future, which Sam can comment on.

ipmcc
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Re: Helping new buggy teams

Postby ipmcc » Tue Oct 05, 2010 3:58 pm

Opinion presented for discussion:

It seems to me in these discussions that the perceived difficulty in starting new teams is a one-time barrier to entry - the high cost (financial and otherwise) of getting started. People seem to have this sense that only with a bunch of support and a bunch of money can they break into this sport, but that everything would be fine if a group could just get enough "help" to get past this initial barrier.

I suspect that this barrier is less "initial" than seems generally accepted. What if this cost is not a spike at the beginning, followed by a long, flat tail, but rather a cyclical, perhaps saw-tooth wave, with the unique characteristic that the only possible point to get onto the wave is near/at its highest point.

Say you have a group that magically already includes two dozen in-shape athletes and a dozen engineers. Then say someone gives you $10,000, a half dozen engaged, active alumni advising your group, and (magically) 3 months of free time to build a buggy. What happens then? Well, for a while, things are easy. People are engaged. Maybe you get a low trophy one year. Things continue from momentum... until one day, you realize that most of your people that know how to build have graduated or lost interest, your organization is strapped for cash, and your pan is delaminating. You're right back up against that "spike" that was supposed to be a one-time thing; You need expertise, motivation, money, and time to sustain your program.

I'm all for more teams getting into buggy, but I think that this barrier to entry is actually beneficial in that if you can't marshall enough motivation and resources to get past it the first time, that you'll have similar problems marshaling the same resources when the next crest in the cycle comes along... and I posit that it will come along.

Discuss.

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Jmohin
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Re: Helping new buggy teams

Postby Jmohin » Tue Oct 05, 2010 10:02 pm

I would agree it's totally cyclical. That been absolutely true in my org and I see it in others.

However, as an alumni, and with greek heads rolling, I'm interested in NEW teams getting in the mix. While it's tough to stay on top of the graduation attrition, and the cycle of apathy, I think that's a unique challenge for each team. It's only overcome totally by a culture change and/or pledge labor, but this is the challenge unique to each org.

I think there probably can be no monetary help and I'd imagine that even too many ideas bordering on "Secret" would rub some the wrong way; some tech needs be hit upon organically. However, the administrative side (i.e. Here's how to get drops done correctly in the morning, Fees and important rules, basics of a good shell, how to train athletes for pushing) would be awesome.

Hopefully this isn't asking too much, I'd be willing to keep a running list of things people would want a first-time team to know, so we don't have teams out for one year then not back a second.

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TommyK
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Re: Helping new buggy teams

Postby TommyK » Wed Oct 06, 2010 5:08 am

New teams are way more interesting than old ones. Anyone ever hear the story about ASA and the skate board trucks? DU's see-through shell? Sig-Eps Genesis with the inside outrigger? That shit cracks me up.

Seems like fresh ideas and new directions can stagnate or even be repressed in existing orgs if the dynamic between alums and actives goes awry.
Why did Sig Nu hit a high (accidental pun) with their design arc some decades ago and every brother since has been unable to progress or innovate? (I heard skua was a rebuild and not new)
Did Spirit plateau on account of their female mold with its custom windscreens and then pulled a Wiley Coyote with their pneumatics that needed a wizards touch to make it through the chute?
How many years did CIA resist the transition away from a frame?

Assembling someone else's vision based on a tried and true recipe is only so intoxicating. I think building your own brainchild and taking ownership of it is so much more appealing (to me at least)

Another weird thing about old orgs is the legacy habits that percolate through time and become some kind of bizarro gospel.
10 years on and visits to the Fringe garage still occasionally include the phrase "because that's the way we've always done it" about something Hurwitz made up one night while high on bondo fumes.
I think they still use an acronym for something that some may have no idea what it even stands for - FCCHSFPPG anyone?

Bravo on any alum who volunteers to be technical mentor. It's not that hard to give up a few hours of your time to steer newbies away from red herrings and bad decisions - Its a little like herding cats but still fun.
There's a decent gap between what you can dig up on the internet on how to build a buggy, the critical lessons of craftsmanship and execution learned over 4 or in some cases 5 years in a buggy room and still an even bigger gap to the upper echelon of performance. A boundary that is still being pushed, I really can't believe the standing course record is 2:03.3.

Which brings up SDC. Why the hell can't SDC's enormous budget surplus and top of the line machining equipment be the fountainhead for starter orgs? You're the top of the heap now, start spreading the love.

p.s.
If any buggy person visits Oahu I have a free pass to hang out at Kamanu composites where they do hand layups of double carbon and foam core canoes on a daily basis using a 4 part female mold. Its pretty sick to watch.
They've introduced a 'green' model this year made with renewable and low impact materials like balsa, cork, hemp, flax, and bio-resin epoxy with reinforcement from traditional composites like carbon fiber and s-glass.
Check them out:

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DeVos
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Re: Helping new buggy teams

Postby DeVos » Wed Oct 06, 2010 12:21 pm


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abordick
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Re: Helping new buggy teams

Postby abordick » Wed Oct 06, 2010 12:23 pm

Getting new orgs involved is a good goal. Getting old orgs involved is a good goal. Keeping existing orgs involved is a good goal. If this race becomes SDC vs. Fringe vs. Pika, that's not good for anybody. (By the way, I think day 2 2010 looked a lot like that). I don't recall any advice from anyone outside my group (Pika) on how to keep our org afloat and competitive when I was chair, except maybe some Spirit folks telling me to Go to Hell (which was good advice). In my case, we had lost 3 years in a row and had some malaise to overcome. Somehow we survived, and it wasn't just because I was the chairman. We pulled together as a group of men, not just as buggy dudes.

My guess is that the causes for any group to fold (fraternaties and independents alike) are the same causes that would lead them to stop doing buggy. Things like leadership, commitment, common bonds, order, respect. Sigma Nu should be very concerned for its charter, not just its buggy program. As odd as SigNu is, they still add value to the CMU campus and should get help when needed. Their loss to Sweepstakes is a serious blow, their absence from campus would be a serious blow as well.

I don't know if Sweepstakes can take on a mentorship/advisory role while simultaneously being the enforcer of rules. I'm not sure that random alumni can help orgs that aren't their own. I am trying to help ROTC because I was one and can understand their culture, but I cannot advise/mentor the Zoo because I don't know what makes them tick. I'm not sure of the solution to this problem, but I think the BAA is the closest thing to an advisory group, the challenge is how we become proactive interventionists preventing any more buggy team exits.

Lastly (I'm avoiding studying for an exam), I can't agree that SDC needs to share their goodies. It's hard enough to pass on the knowledge of how to make your goodies/techniques work from year to year (did you see Pika roll last raceday?) let alone trying to also share those precious resources with other groups for the betterment of Sweepstakes. While the socialist karma would be great, it would almost punish the hard work of orgs that get it all together. SDC has done a remarkable job, on many levels. They don't just have good buggies and wheels, but they have fast, well trained pushers. They are organized and studious with the rules (propane not withstanding) to ensure the success of not just A-teams, but all teams. The reward for level of thoroughness should not be free help for other, struggling orgs.

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lemuroid
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Re: Helping new buggy teams

Postby lemuroid » Wed Oct 06, 2010 1:36 pm



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