PDA

View Full Version : Keeping the Pits Streamlined


JewishDan18
05-17-2009, 12:42 AM
So, this season team 20 has had some issues with too many people in the pits. There would be 10+ people in the pit, with just as many hanging out in the aisle in front of the pit. of course everyone should have a chance to check out the robot after a stellar match, but how do you draw the line? We have a pit crew that tries to get work done (and does an excellent job), but with no policy in place, it is difficult to deal with such crowds. Thus, we are looking to implement a policy for next season. I have several ideas, but I wanted to see what other teams do first. So, my question for you is, does your team have a policy as to how many/who gets to be in the pit? If so, what is the policy? Do any other teams stick out as having an effective policy?

James Tonthat
05-17-2009, 12:46 AM
Our team has a simple rule of, if you're not working on the robot or supervising the robot. Stay outside of the pit. It's okay to stand in front of the pit though, just don't get in the way of other robots/teams.

Chris is me
05-17-2009, 01:15 AM
First, make sure your pit is organized and planned out before you get to the event. An organized pit holds more people.

Second, assign only a few competition roles to the pit. Take shifts if you want, or only have your most technically oriented / charismatic students in the pits (Mechanical / Electrical captains, etc) at a time. Have a pit boss student or mentor that manages who's in the pits all the time, making sure they kindly turn away students who don't need to be there.

Our team has, at any time, the safety captain, a few mechanically oriented students, programmers, the drive team, and (if we need it) team reps to talk to other teams and judges in the pits. Most of these roles overlap, and many of the roles don't actually require people having to stand in our pits the whole time, so in reality we'll end up with like 6 or 7 people in the pits at the time. If you have a different job or no reason to be there, as a team we say ahead of time to avoid being in our pits for an extended period of time.

So in short, plan ahead, assign roles, and work together.

Vikesrock
05-17-2009, 03:14 AM
Of course everyone should have a chance to check out the robot after a stellar match

This comment confuses me. Why does your team need to check out your robot after a stellar match? Your team knows what your robot looks like, the only reasons they have to be in the pit are for working on the robot or liaising with judges and/or other teams. Assign these roles either for the whole weekend or in shifts, make other people aware that it is harmful to the team for them to be in the pit.

A system I have contemplated implementing is "Pit Passes" in control of a mentor. The Pit Crew would have Pit Passes for the whole weekend and others may be granted temporary passes as necessary. Only those with passes would be allowed in the pit for more than a few minutes.

MooreteP
05-17-2009, 09:40 AM
First, make sure your pit is organized and planned out before you get to the event. An organized pit holds more people.

Second, assign only a few competition roles to the pit. Take shifts if you want, or only have your most technically oriented / charismatic students in the pits (Mechanical / Electrical captains, etc) at a time. Have a pit boss student or mentor that manages who's in the pits all the time, making sure they kindly turn away students who don't need to be there.

Our team has, at any time, the safety captain, a few mechanically oriented students, programmers, the drive team, and (if we need it) team reps to talk to other teams and judges in the pits. Most of these roles overlap, and many of the roles don't actually require people having to stand in our pits the whole time, so in reality we'll end up with like 6 or 7 people in the pits at the time. If you have a different job or no reason to be there, as a team we say ahead of time to avoid being in our pits for an extended period of time.

So in short, plan ahead, assign roles, and work together.

This is exactly what we do and it works great. Couldn't have said it better.

Thus, we are looking to implement a policy for next season. I have several ideas, but I wanted to see what other teams do first. So, my question for you is, does your team have a policy as to how many/who gets to be in the pit? If so, what is the policy? Do any other teams stick out as having an effective policy?

Pit passes are a bit hostile and create an additional task at a competition.

Make sure students also have roles in the stands.

Schnabel
05-17-2009, 10:28 AM
We TechnoKats set a schedule every year and if you aren't on the schedule, then you are in the stands. The scouting group has a similar schedule as to make sure we have scouts at all times, yet no one person scouts all day.

It's okay to stand in front of the pit though, just don't get in the way of other robots/teams.

Actually I disagree with this and every year i try my best to kick all TechnoKats in front of the pit out if they aren't susposed to be there. Imagine this, you are at BoilerMaker regional, and your team, and every other team has 3-5 people standing outside of the pit. Since BMR has very limited space in the aisles, there is no room to get through. This is bad if you are running late and need to get the robot through, or if the people outside of the pits are messing around and they block judges. If I had one thing to ask of all teams, please don't stand in front of your pit.

ttldomination
05-17-2009, 11:45 AM
It's generally known that our team runs to the pits after a match. The scouts hang around waiting for their next assignment from the scout leader, the builders all rush back to make sure everything still works, the safety captain is almost always there, and everyone wants to talk to the drivers to makes sure that things went well during the match and no major issues came up.

So for me, or anyone else on my team, to tell people on my team to stay in the stands would be unfair. They have a full right to come down and check out the robot, talk to people, get status updates, etc. And it's understandable that right after a match is almost always the worst, but it generally clears out.

The only thing I can suggest is to make sure the pit crew know who they are. The pit crew need first priority. As far as people standing in the aisle, we generally let them hang around for a few minutes but we generally encourage them to move to stands.

EricLeifermann
05-17-2009, 12:01 PM
This year i instituted a 5 min rule. If you weren't part of the pit crew or doing something "helpful" you had 5 min to be near our pit at any one time. That didn't mean they couldn't be in the pits, they just couldn't be crowding our pit.

JewishDan18
05-17-2009, 01:07 PM
@ Vikesrock - I agree with you 100% but the head mentors feel differently. I'd love to have a system where only a select few get to be in the pit, but they want everyone to have a chance.

@ Schnabel - I also agree, people standing in front of the pit is not ok. I feel that if someone is standing in front of the pit, rather than in the pit, they most likely aren't doing anything useful.

@ ttldomination - This is exactly what happens with our team

One other thing I'd like to ask about. I was considering opening the pit during lunch hour, as there will be less activity, except at one of our regionals this season judges came by the pit during lunch. We'd like to keep pit crowds to their lowest when judges come around, so is this the exception, or should we plan on judge visits at any time?

Chris is me
05-17-2009, 01:32 PM
One thing some teams do (I don't know how many, but every team I've been on / near in FRC / FTC has done it) is that if there are judges in the pits, keep walking unless it's vitally important (like, say, bringing the robot to a match). If you weren't involved with the construction of a particular component and a judge would ask you about it, it would put you in a weird situation. I mean, we don't tell people "never talk to judges" or something, but if the pits full of judges, then the pit's full, you know? A crowd swarming the judges isn't really a good idea; we love judges but we're not here to crowd surf them :)

Judges normally don't come around in lunch unless they got interrupted by a match or you're doing something very right. If people want to stop by the pits, lunch would be the time to do it.

You can still have everyone get the chance to be in the pit, but is there really that much to do other than "fix the robot" and "talk to teams" (which is better done walking between pits)? It's not a terribly exciting place to be most of the time.

Do you have everyone on your team assigned to a role at competition? Our team helps get around the problem with stand scouting; we basically don't have enough people between stand scouting, pit recon, and the other competiton jobs to _have_ anyone who's free to stand around for more than a half hour or so, and those people on break usually want to check out other robots.

afowl
05-17-2009, 01:50 PM
Our team sometimes has problems with this too. We basically say that if you're not scouting or doing something else in the stands, you can come to the pits for a few minutes as long as you don't get in anybody's way while they are working. We also encourage students to go around and look at the other robots and watch matches to get a better understanding of the other robots. This typically keeps the crowding to a minimum on our team.

NorviewsVeteran
05-17-2009, 01:57 PM
I noticed about six or seven of my teammates hanging around 'supervising' in the aisle at competition, so I took a moment to ask each one, "what are you doing?" and if they answered 'nothing' or mumbled some BS answer, I sent them to the stands.

JewishDan18
05-17-2009, 02:19 PM
One thing some teams do (I don't know how many, but every team I've been on / near in FRC / FTC has done it) is that if there are judges in the pits, keep walking unless it's vitally important (like, say, bringing the robot to a match). If you weren't involved with the construction of a particular component and a judge would ask you about it, it would put you in a weird situation. I mean, we don't tell people "never talk to judges" or something, but if the pits full of judges, then the pit's full, you know? A crowd swarming the judges isn't really a good idea; we love judges but we're not here to crowd surf them :)

Judges normally don't come around in lunch unless they got interrupted by a match or you're doing something very right. If people want to stop by the pits, lunch would be the time to do it.

You can still have everyone get the chance to be in the pit, but is there really that much to do other than "fix the robot" and "talk to teams" (which is better done walking between pits)? It's not a terribly exciting place to be most of the time.

Do you have everyone on your team assigned to a role at competition? Our team helps get around the problem with stand scouting; we basically don't have enough people between stand scouting, pit recon, and the other competiton jobs to _have_ anyone who's free to stand around for more than a half hour or so, and those people on break usually want to check out other robots.

My concerns with judges are the same. The reason people want to be in the pit is that most of the "cool" kids on the team are either pit crew or drivers, they draw people to the pit. We have something like 60 kids at competitions, so its hard to find roles for all them. Many of them aren't reliable enough to effectively scout, unfortunately. That's something else we're working on...

I noticed about six or seven of my teammates hanging around 'supervising' in the aisle at competition, so I took a moment to ask each one, "what are you doing?" and if they answered 'nothing' or mumbled some BS answer, I sent them to the stands.

I try this also, but since the head mentors had the "anyone can see the robot" policy, I never got very far.

kristenliz_28
05-17-2009, 04:08 PM
Nice thread Dan :p

If I may add something, Dan, myself and another pit captain were thinking about having 'pit credits' where a student that participates during the build season is given a credit by the mentor he/she was working with. This credit is worth, say, 15 minutes in the pit. This way the students that did the most during the build season would be able to reap the benefits of their hard work

However, this system seems a bit complicated to me. We have quite a large team, so managing who has what # of credits could become confusing, and if we gave the credits out as pieces of paper kids could lose them ...

Anyone have any ideas on how this system could be improved?

MoniqueSays
05-17-2009, 04:25 PM
I think our system of pit credits is a good idea, the only problem is that our team isn't good at keeping record of things. However, instead of handing out the credits as pieces of paper, maybe coins would be a better idea (emulate the safety credits at each competition, maybe?). Maybe have each student write their initials on a piece of masking tape and put it on the coin itself. When they visit the pit, they can just hand in their coin in a bag.

Al Skierkiewicz
05-17-2009, 06:25 PM
A simple posted schedule of crew time assignments works well. Students are assigned pit, strategy, data collecting, free time or Chairman's booth.

gorrilla
05-17-2009, 06:49 PM
My team dosent' usually have this problem(as we dont have many people)

But we give everyone different assignments(scouting,talking to judges/other teams,etc..)

Usually everyone who's not on the drive team is in the stands or walking around the pits looking at other teams/robots/cool stuff......

I think this is because our robots' seem to be unbreakable for some reason(I think this has something to do with us being overweight all the time too:rolleyes:) so we dont usually need more than 4 students is the pits anyways(drive team and safety captain)

If its a space problem try reorganizing your pit(worked well for us)

DNay247
05-17-2009, 09:05 PM
What 247 does is we have a specific pit crew - composed student-wise of myself, being safety captain and pit crew chief, and the drive tem, which has two more mechanical students, our marketing guy, and one of the programmers. We have two build mentors, and also an electrical mentor. That's eight total, and drive team is usually out being briefed by our head scout, or schmoozing with other teams. Nobody really drops in after a match, they stay occupied in scouting. I
f I see another student just hanging around our pit that isn't supposed to be there, I can just throw them out.

Keeping an organized pit is a good idea. Another pit tip - double your toolboxes as seats!
Also, we have a workbench that we replace the table they give us with. My first job on Thursday was to get that table out of there and somewhere more useful for the judges, refs, etc.

DonRotolo
05-17-2009, 10:08 PM
I noticed about six or seven of my teammates hanging around 'supervising' in the aisle at competition, so I took a moment to ask each one, "what are you doing?" and if they answered 'nothing' or mumbled some BS answer, I sent them to the stands.
We just make the pits so unpleasant, nobody "wants' to be there :rolleyes:

Seriously: We have taught our students to ask that question of themselves: If you are not actively repairing something, then go somewhere else.

Tom Line
05-18-2009, 08:55 AM
We TechnoKats set a schedule every year and if you aren't on the schedule, then you are in the stands. The scouting group has a similar schedule as to make sure we have scouts at all times, yet no one person scouts all day.



Actually I disagree with this and every year i try my best to kick all TechnoKats in front of the pit out if they aren't susposed to be there. Imagine this, you are at BoilerMaker regional, and your team, and every other team has 3-5 people standing outside of the pit. Since BMR has very limited space in the aisles, there is no room to get through. This is bad if you are running late and need to get the robot through, or if the people outside of the pits are messing around and they block judges. If I had one thing to ask of all teams, please don't stand in front of your pit.

I agree 1000%. DO NOT STAND in front of your pits! You are a safety hazard to put it politely, and a majorly annoying distraction to put it bluntly. You're a hinderance if any judges come by, and you'll slow down the process of strategizing with other teams drive-teams.

We assign 5 team members to the pits. 2 mechanical, 2 electrical, and one 'whoever'. I am never afraid to send team members away if there are too many. They know that if I see them standing with nothing to do that it's pretty likely they're going to get something to do (and generally it won't be much fun) - things like going to set up the lunch trailer, or going to relieve someone who's scouting, or going to scout other teams.

Don't be afraid to ask people to leave. The first time you don't and someone gets hurt, you'll feel horrible that you didn't.

Get those extra people out of the pits. They don't belong there.

Carol
05-18-2009, 09:32 AM
The roles and expectations on our team are very defined at competition. Every student (and mentor) on our team has an assigned job: pit crew, mobile pit crew, ambassador, awards, safety captain, scouting, with some overlap in jobs (contrary to what it seems, we only have 30-35 students each year).

Pit crew are the main students who should be in the pit, working on the robot, and are selected on basis of their mechanical/electrical/programming skill. The mobile pit crew are available as extra hands in the pit if needed, but their main job is to help out other teams, particular rookie teams, that need help in their pits. (At regionals, especially the early ones, it is surprising how many teams need help. And how many teams that jump in to help them.) Ambassadors are just that - there is always at least one in the pit at all times to talk with visitors and judges. Awards are in charge of selecting and awarding our MOEawards to other teams. Safety captain is obvious. Scouting crew are assigned matches to watch and summarize, so that every match is covered. Everyone (except one ambassador) is expected to be in the stands during our matches. But in between our matches, they all disperse to their assigned jobs. (And at Atlanta we have a schedule to cover the Hall of Fame display as well).

The system is challenging, and takes a bit of organization, but works very well as long as everyone steps up and does their part. We ask a lot of our students but they always live up to our expectations. Every year I'm more proud of what they do.

EricH
05-18-2009, 03:15 PM
It's generally known that our team runs to the pits after a match. The scouts hang around waiting for their next assignment from the scout leader, the builders all rush back to make sure everything still works, the safety captain is almost always there, and everyone wants to talk to the drivers to makes sure that things went well during the match and no major issues came up.

So for me, or anyone else on my team, to tell people on my team to stay in the stands would be unfair. They have a full right to come down and check out the robot, talk to people, get status updates, etc. And it's understandable that right after a match is almost always the worst, but it generally clears out. If your scouts need new assignments after every match of yours, I think your scouting system needs reworking. When I was on 330, we never had an issue with scouting assignments--you got a set of sheets with teams on them, and those were the teams you scouted in those matches. If you needed to go elsewhere, the sheets went to someone else.

Everyone wants to make sure that nothing came up and everything went well. Great! Send one or two members from the stands and have them report back. They can also inform whoever's up there that so-and-so is needed because his thingamabob is broken and he's the only one who knows how to fix it, or that there's a repair emergency.

Yes, everyone has a full right to do everything you say. However, when everyone exercises that right at the exact same time, it doesn't help you at all. Have a rotation in the pits/stands so that everyone can cycle through the pit area in a more organized fashion.

To the OP:
I would have a minimum of people in the pit. The minimum I'd have would be the drive team, the safety captain, and 1-2 people to talk to the judges/inspectors/other teams. Also have a programmer or two either in the pit or close at hand. Maybe 1-2 other people. Cycle everyone through in a schedule.

Mr. Pockets
05-18-2009, 04:02 PM
Our team tried two tricks this year:

1.) At our second two comps we issued the Pit crew, the controls people, and the drive team these placards which said on them PIT CREW. Theoretically you would only be allowed in the pit if you had one of those (we weren't perfect about enforcing it but it was a nice idea.)

2.) We set safety cones around our pit when the robot was there. If you weren't working on the robot or doing something important in the pit you were supposed to stay outside those cones.

Karibou
05-18-2009, 06:14 PM
In addition to what Mr. Pockets (Nathan) said, we also kept our team members busy scouting. With barely enough scouts to keep our scouting service up and running, they were kept busy with constant scouting. Not the most ideal way to keep extra teammates out, but it worked.

It also helps when there's nothing to do in the pit. When the robot is working and there's nothing to fix (though we all know that that never happens :rolleyes: ), watching matches is definitely more interesting than sitting in the pit doing nothing, so virtually nobody is there. Right after a match, however, our pit does tend to get a bit crowded with the drive team, strategy group, pit crew, and the occasional scout. After we assess whatever problems we may have, the drive and strategy teams usually leave, which leaves about 4 or 5 of us in the pit, which is a good number.

AdamHeard
05-18-2009, 06:27 PM
This misconception that the only "glamorous" jobs are ones directly involved with the robot is way off.

For a team to be competitive, x, y and z need to be done, and there has to be someone to do them.

Every job should be charted, mapped out, defined and assigned. Jobs should be given to the most capable and deserving. If you feel you deserved the "superglamorous" X, but got "unimportant" Y, first you are wrong, and second tough luck. Work harder next year to be that deserving kid who gets job X.

No job is unimportant, as it is the culimation of all the little things that lets the driveteam be successful on the field with the robot. If you disagree with your job and think you're above it, then you're being immature. Part of being mature and a team player is willing to take such jobs for the greater good of the team.

Nothing in life should be handed to you, many people make the argument everyone on the team should have a chance at everything on a team. I make a slightly different argument that everyone on the team should have a chance at EARNING anything they want a chance at on the team.

Now, to actually answer the question.

973 explicitly keeps a few pit crew members, all hand picked by no set criteria. We keep the drive team, pit crew, battery man and spokesperson in the pit, with a programmer on call. We try to overlap as many of these roles as possible to reduce bodies in the pit. Everyone else has a defined job, and is expected to do it all times. Since we're currently a small team, everyone is either on pit crew, drive, or scouting. The pit crew is expected to be at the pit at all times (except when we have matches), scouting expected to be scouting the entire time, and the drive team is expected to stay near the pit to be ready for matches and strategy.

Jared Russell
05-18-2009, 06:27 PM
It depends on how crowded a particular venue is, but in general we have found that if every student knows their duties, they won't tend to crowd in the pit without reason.

Also, our normal pit display consists of two large pillars (with posters, a computer for videos, a spinning sign, etc.) bridged by vines. In effect this acts as a "gate" into our pit, and sort of naturally keeps folks to the periphery unless actively working on the robot.

We also tend to travel with an appropriately sized crew to each event - everybody who travels with us is going because they are doing something valuable for the team.

techtiger1
05-18-2009, 10:35 PM
1251 keeps the pit crew to about 5 students and some mentors, We find this eliminates crowding when trying to work on the robot and maneuver in the pits. Also we have a designated pit boss who is in charge of tools and power organization. Finally, we use schedules much like Al from 111 described earlier in this thread, which is probably the best place to start streamlining.

Brandon Holley
05-19-2009, 09:34 AM
For some teams, I think the perception of what the pit is, is what causes a constant crowd to form there.

The pit:
its where the robot is maintained and repaired.
its where judges come to talk to your team.
its where other teams come to strategize with yours.

Any other activity does not NEED to take place in the pit. Your scouts do not need to work out of the pit...neither do most of the other tasks that take place at a competition.

I see teams meeting at the pit to go to lunch, which works, but there are also a thousand other places the team can meet that keep them out of the pit.

The perception of the pit being the center of the team at a competition causes people to flock to it because it is where the "action" is. Making sure the students on your team know that yes the pit is very important, but its not the "meeting place" will help solve the big rushes of people that come flocking after each match.


To keep it regulated throughout the competition, a schedule is a pretty simple way to keep the students organized. Your assigned a time to be in the pit...if its not your time, leave until it is. Thats just the way it has to be to keep it organized and fair to everyone.

Chris is me
05-19-2009, 10:01 AM
Something else to consider would be having your scouting captain assigining teams in the stands. For pit recon, you can just have the members meet at the wall next to the "pit map", then point to the teams each person looks at. For stand scouting, you can have people assigned to each starting position on the field and have the scouting captain in charge of rotating people every 5-10 matches. You don't need to be in the pits at all for that, unless the scouting program for data entry is on the programming laptop (it shouldn't be).

Collin Fultz
05-19-2009, 01:22 PM
To the original poster:

A lot of good information has been given here. To best sum it up:

1.) Make a plan
2.) Stick to the plan

Step 1 is easy. Step 2 can take somebody being the "bad guy", moving people out of the pits that do not need to be there. For this reason, I recommend the "bad guy" role being filled by a mentor.

Good luck.

Burmeister #279
05-19-2009, 04:44 PM
Our team just had a discussion on this last night, and decided we needed to change what happens in our pit. i'd explain what our pit/rules are like, but my POV is minorly skewed :rolleyes: , so instead i'm going to redirect a mentor or two here :D

JewishDan18
05-19-2009, 05:11 PM
Our team just had a discussion on this last night, and decided we needed to change what happens in our pit. i'd explain what our pit/rules are like, but my POV is minorly skewed :rolleyes: , so instead i'm going to redirect a mentor or two here :D

Thanks, it nice to know other teams are reforming. Could you tell me what you guys did before this discussion?

Burmeister #279
05-20-2009, 09:23 AM
Nothing much. we were basically talking about pros and cons from this year and started talking about different things and this subject came up.

i emailed the thread to the team but nobody has replied to me nor here so i don't think anyone's looked here =(

Andrew Schreiber
05-20-2009, 10:22 AM
On 27 we always followed a schedule, if there was any question where you were supposed to be or what you were doing we pulled out the schedule and checked. The only time the entire team was in the pits was the team cheer Friday and Saturday mornings and when we moved stuff in and out (many hands make for light work) Aside from that we traditionally have a pair of mentors, an Electrical/Programming student, a Mechanical student, 2 people who answer questions (Technically the two Pit Crew students can do this job as well but redundancy is a plus) The drive team is nearby but their job is to be planning for the next match NOT fixing the robot.

Some could argue that 27 should do the team cheer outside of the pits but I think it would lose a lot of the impact it has now.