How you can change a child’s life using Jira.

As we look towards the end of this year, it helps to take a moment to appreciate that it has not been kind to everyone. Honestly, there are times when the problems of the world just seem too…big. But here is a secret I like to keep in mind. You don’t have to fix all the world’s problems; just do what you can to fix one. Even if you can’t do it all alone, every little bit helps. To that end, The Jira Guy Blog is partnering with Innovalog and Blended Perspectives to donate to FIRST, an organization dedicated to inspiring young people towards careers in STEM.

Stump The Expert Challenge

What’s this now?

For a while now, I’ve been working with Innovalog and Blended Perspectives to put together this challenge event to benefit FIRST Robotics Competition. They are an amazing charity that works to inspire the next generation of Engineers, problem solvers, and thinkers to solve the worlds problems.

What’s FIRST?

As I said, FIRST’s mission is to inspire students to pursue careers in STEM through proven methods. They have teams of students and teachers team up with Engineers and Businesses to participate in Robotics Competition. And yes, I can say proven. I’ve seen first-hand what they can do!

For my first experience with FIRST, I played with Team 34 in their High School division (FIRST Robotics Competition, or FRC) during the 2002 season, which changed my life. I’m not exaggerating at all. In High School, I had displayed two real talents: Computers and Music. I had played the Flute for some number of years and loved playing in Band. And at that time, I was strongly considering a career as a Band Director. However, I loved the idea of building a Robot for a Competition, so when it was announced that our school was looking for Students for FIRST, I tried out. As I was already on schedule to take Advanced C++, I got in as a programmer.

Future Jira Guy

And honestly, getting to see real engineers and working along with them for six months lead me to realize that there was a future in Technology. Honestly, if it weren’t for my experience in FIRST, I wouldn’t now be writing this Blog.

Currently, both my wife and I volunteer as Judges for First Lego League, their competition aimed at Children from Pre-K on up to Middle School. I’ve seen children come in with both robot designs and community service projects that seem way beyond what I was doing at their age. 

As FIRST believes in a well rounded student, part of the program teaches “Core Values,” which includes concepts like Sportsmanship, Teamwork, Inclusion, etc. And considering I’m also a FIRST Alumni, I often get assigned this role as a judge. The best story I have from my volunteer work was one team that noticed a design problem with the competition boards. They could have kept this to themselves and used it as a competitive advantage. Instead, they went around to every team, shared what they found, and made sure everyone competed on the same level. 

We didn’t have this team scheduled until later in the day but had already heard about them sharing this information from various other teams. So when they finally got to our room, we asked about it. They admitted to being tempted to keep the information to themselves but felt that wouldn’t have been fair to everyone else. You can’t even find Sportsmanship like that in some adults, yet these Elementary school kids had already developed it!

How does this challenge work?

Innovalog will be posting Challenges on their site. These Challenges can be Easy, Intermediate, or Mind-Bender, and are based on real-world problems. Your job, readers, is to solve those problems using Innovalog’s Jira Misc Workflow Extensions and Jira Misc Custom Fields. If you have a workable solution, submit it to Innovalog. Your solution will be published, full credit to you, and donations in your name will be made to FIRST. The size of your donation will depend on the Challenge Tier, as follows:


You have until January 31st, 2021 (11:59 PM EST) to submit your answers, so don’t dawdle!

Of course, you also deserve to be rewarded for your time. While I feel the charity work is worthy enough on its own, to sweeten the pot you will also be entered into a drawing for an Oculus Quest 2! The obvious fine-print applies, but still!

So Shiny…

Can I submit a challenge?

You absolutely can! To quote the fine print:

You can submit your Stump The Expert Challenge for consideration. Our team will review it, and if approved, it will be publicly offered as a Challenge. This does not qualify you for any prizes. Once published, you will then be able to answer the Challenge yourself in addition to offering an opportunity for others to do that as well.

This process gives you two opportunities. One: It does say you can answer your own proposed Challenge. That means if you have done a cool party trick with one of Innovalog’s tools, it can count!

Two, if you have a problem that you haven’t been able to figure out, submit it as a challenge! If it’s accepted, you just have to wait for an expert to review it and submit a solution! You get a solution, the donation is made, and the expert gets entered into the drawing. Wins all around!

About Scheduling?

So, this is a big deal. I, Innovalog, Blended Perspectives and Appfire have been crazily excited to release this to the public. As such, I decided to push our regular post by a day to make room for this announcement. That means you’ll be getting two posts this week, but I think it’s well worth the extra work!

But please let me know what you think, and I’m looking forward to seeing what you guys do with this!

But until tomorrow, my name is Rodney, asking, “Have you updated your Jira Issues today?”


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