View Full Version : Responsibilties of a Captain

05-27-2008, 05:09 PM
This is a follow-up to my previous thread, "Responsibilities of a Mentor."

Most teams have a student captain or captains. They may go by the title of President, Captain, or Leader, but they are all functionally similar. What I want to know is this:

What do you think are the responsibilities of the student captain of a team? Is this captain responsible for initiating contact with sponsors? Planning events? Coordinating robot construction? Ordering supplies? Maintaining discipline? Communication to the team?

What are the responsibilities and privileges of captains on other teams? Does your team have a handbook or training for student leadership?

05-27-2008, 06:01 PM
Its kind of funny that you mention this...
My team has been having this same discussion recently.
We're accually debating over wether we need a student capitan or not.

05-27-2008, 06:08 PM
The job of all leaders is to prepare those they lead to take their place. As the mechanical captain this past year I found the most important, and often the hardest job was teaching the students who I lead to be the new mechanical captain. I had to teach them to use the machines, or teach them to try again when a part just doesn't quite come out the way they wanted to. I had to teach them to think ahead, and to use their brains when working. I feel confident they can take my place now.

Dan Petrovic
05-27-2008, 08:20 PM
Wow we are having the very same discussion on our Yahoo Group forums.

We also have a job description section at our Team Wiki.


05-27-2008, 08:52 PM
We also have a job description section at our Team Wiki.

This is an aside... but I thought we were the only team with a wiki.

Our team has a 5-person student management team which has taken on a lot of the responsibilities that our mentors used to have to do. Our mentors are now less overwhelmed, and the students now feel more directly involved in the processes and feel a greater sense of responsibility for and connection with our achievements. For the people who question the necessity of a student captain (or management team, in our case), I think this is a good justification.

As for the responsibilities of the captain specifically ("president" on our team), on our team the president is basically a team representative. The president represents the team for sponsors, takes all student input and brings it to management team meetings to help with decisions, represents students for sponsor, and communicates with the school. (S)he runs the team meetings each night, plans events, and generally helps to keep everything on track.

I'm giving a link to our 2007-2008 team handbook, which describes the responsibilities and qualifications of this year's management team on page 5. We've since tweaked some things for next year's team, but the new handbook isn't finalized. http://uberbots.org/2008/files/handbook.pdf

Renee Becker-Blau
05-27-2008, 10:13 PM
Right now our team normally runs with two Co-Captains. One is head of Build, the other is head of Logistics. Build runs the design, build, and drive aspects. Logistics handles chairmans, media, and image parts of the team. Under the Co-Captains you have heads of a section, Build, Chairmans, Drive, Design, Logistics, etc. depending on the number of people we have on the team. The Co-Captains work with the heads to coordinate everything, and the mentors work in a sub-group with the head.

From there rookies come in and work under a head to learn about the sub-group. After the first year they should have an idea of what they want to. We might be changing this system, to make it more mentor run, or we may be keeping it more student run for next year. We're not sure what we want to do yet.

05-30-2008, 12:44 AM
Two Co-Presidents, self-nominated this year for elections. They both take care of building the robot and papers, depending on the situation. Leadership seems to change form with each new set of Co-Presidents we get each year (although this year they're the same as last year...).

Interestingly enough, we've also ended up with Vice Presidents of Recruitment, Human Resources, and Team Spirit, chosen by the Co-Presidents. So collectively, we have no team captains, but we do have a five-person Executive Closet. Just like the U.S. Cabinet, but more efficient. A Closet stores useful things, while personally I think a Cabinet stores things on display. :D

Also, we have (three or four people) committees who run things like Publicity and Fundraising. This encompasses nearly the entire team! And several people hold more than one position... :rolleyes:

On a side note, since we only have three people next year who are guaranteed members and not seniors, the Vice-President of Recruitment may exercise a bit more power. Leadership on our team adjusts as necessary. So far it's been quite effective.

And on special privileges, I haven't seen any really major ones (except for that elusive college application booster... :D). Co-President seems to mean more responsibility only, which is a useful way of making sure that our leaders are really dedicated. Although, we really haven't had to worry. People vote for those they trust to do a good job. :) (Ack! So many emoticons!)

05-30-2008, 05:00 AM
Well that's great....I just posted a 100 line reply...and CD's server just restarted....that's wonderful....

Sorry, don't feel like writing it again.. (-_-')

06-01-2008, 06:00 AM
This is a follow-up to my previous thread, "Responsibilities of a Mentor."

What do you think are the responsibilities of the student captain of a team? Is this captain responsible for initiating contact with sponsors? Planning events? Coordinating robot construction? Ordering supplies? Maintaining discipline? Communication to the team?

What are the responsibilities and privileges of captains on other teams? Does your team have a handbook or training for student leadership?

To Answer #1, The Job of the student captain is to follow orders from the mentors and pass those orders around and make sure that all gets accomplished. Their job should be to assign specific tasks to individuals OR groups of students on the team and create committees to handle said tasks. The leaders of those committees are responsible for making sure that those under their command are doing what they're suppose to and to notify the student captain and mentors any lack of participation by the people under their command. The Sub Captains are responsible for holding meetings and to update the chain of command of their progress right down to the smallest detail. It is also the job of the captain to get their hands dirty and be involved w/ almost everything so that they can help the committees properly. You don't need to know EVERYTHING bu you should have a very good idea of whats suppose to go on in each category so that if someone misses something they can pick up on it and bring it to that persons attention.

To Answer #2, There shouldn't be any special privelages that seperate a regular student member and the student captain. Everyone should have equal privelages.

I was a captain for my final year in HS and it came to me naturally as time went on. I recieved no training from mentors OR students. I did my best to know what was going on in every committee so that I can help out as best I can. I also helped the team contact keep team related records and such in check and only stepped in on the committees to check on their progress. Basically I was a Jack of all trades on the basic level. As far as privelages were concerned I got the same treatment on the team got and nothing more. If I slacked off I was warned and told to correct it (which goes for school work and robotics work). Team Captains should lead by example and the students on the team will follow suit. This helps to make sure members on the team are behaving appropriately on and off the field. When a team member messes up, it makes the student captain look bad as well as the entire team, if the student captain messes up it makes the mentors look bad and the team, if the mentors mess up it makes the district look bad. So on and so forth.

As a captain you should as I said before lead by example in a positive way, know whats going on, assist the team members and mentors and the rest of the team will follow suit and any dead weight can be weeded out from there. When the student captain isn't doing their job the members under his command aren't doing their job either.

06-02-2008, 11:59 PM
This is something that is going to vary widely depending on the size of your team. In a large team, things are going to be more of a bureaucracy, with individual members' roles fairly rigidly separated. My team was pretty small, so everybody wore a lot of different hats. I did a fair bit of design and construction, but what you could call my leadership-specific duties were mostly systems integration (making sure all the pieces fit together), resources management (making sure money and man hours were spent wisely), and time management (keeping on schedule). I also tried to make a point of arriving early to every meeting and being the last one to leave. When we knew a snowstorm was coming in, I took the robot home and organized a build session at my house during the pursuant snow day. At competitions, I was in the coach position on the drive team, so I always was with the drivers and human player when we went to talk to other teams, and I made sure we were all together and ready to queue on time. Throughout the season, our triumvirate of captains had final say on pretty much all design and strategy decisions.

In the off season, me and my co-captains wrote our share of letters to potential sponsors, but our chief mentor was always the primary point of contact in those sorts of relationships.

Minor discipline issues can be dealt with by the captain; by minor, I mean things like getting people back on task after a short break, reminding individuals to call the next time they're going to be late to a build session, or politely telling two students who are having a personal spat to take it outside. Mentors should always handle more serious discipline issues; basically, this means any situation where the perpetrator doesn't respect the captain's authority or where the captain may have a conflict of interest. A mentor should also handle any situation in which a student is being such a pill that they have to be asked to leave the shop and not come back, or must be referred to school authorities for punishment; an adult is orders of magnitude more likely to be able to do this in a tactful and appropriate manner. This is all the more true when the mentor is a teacher and the team is on school property.