Build lead?

So I’ve decided to consult the people of other teams and hopefully mentors to help me in succeeding to fulfill a job as Build Team lead on my team. We hold elections each year to decide who will fill each lead position on build,programming,finances, etc and I would like to take lead this coming season but I also have others who are seniors going for the same spot (i’m a junior). I really want the spot and need to know from you guys what would be helpful in knowing to possibly gaining an edge. Even if I don’t win, me and my other teammates would much appreciate any feedback you have.

Gerrymander your districts.

More seriously… In a healthy team culture it’s influence not authority that matters. Students are going to follow competence, experience, hard work, etc…

Make it clear to your teammates through your actions during every meeting this fall that you’re putting in the time and effort to learn in the pertinent areas. Don’t tell them what you’re going to do, show them. Technical skills will be somewhat important here, but management and leadership skills are definitely critical.

What responsibilities does build lead on your team involve? Is it about delegating work, driving design, enforcing deadlines, etc…? Whatever the responsibilities are, evaluate and present yourself according to them. It’s the electoral equivalent of RTFM. Also, be sure to sell yourself on what you know others will overlook; if you’re up against seniors, they may want to make it all about years of experience, etc. Don’t let them. Stress undervalued leadership skills like humility and sound judgement. Seniors tend to lack those ;).

My main concern is design and specific mechanical engineering aspects that I should try to learn more about. I’m constantly looking to improve on the knowledge I already have and would like to hear some areas that might benefit me in knowing. (ie: gear ratios, simple physics) things like that.

If those are your biggest weaknesses, it might not be worthwhile to build on that for the election. Presuming the upperclassmen you’re up against are more knowledgable about these things, trying to stress academic knowledge may backfire and make your deficiency more apparent. Also, I’d be surprised to see a spontaneous physics quiz decide an election (fun idea for a tie breaker, though!). If you’re worried about these things affecting your leadership ability, being aware of your weaknesses and how to mitigate them / who to call on for help should be sufficient (and is honestly more impressive in and of itself).

Leadership qualities are important. Ability to listen and knowing when take firm decision is important. Every discussion and decision will not be easy and will not convince everyone. As a build lead, you will see many different ideas and everyone will not agree all ideas. Also you must have patience to listen to others (conflicts with my earlier statement) but its important.

Like others said, delegate, delegate tasks and not responsibility. Follow up and and make sure things get done on timely fashion. Finally, lead by example.

Leadership qualities are more important than technical capability, especially if you recognize your technical limitations and can smartly confer with those who know that stuff better than you. Have you functioned as leader of anything else before, whether a sports team, chess club, cub pack, or anything in between? Put that stuff out front.

Also, bringing brownies never hurts your chances in an election. :wink:

My first question is why hold elections? To quote the famous JVN, “voting is not an engineering decision making process. We do not vote.”

If your team’s main sponsor (e.g. school) does not provide a source of authority, or chooses to waive it, you need to select leaders somehow.

I’ve read that trial by combat’s been pretty popular through the millennia. Perhaps heat guns at twenty paces?

Seriously, do we have to keep telling teams how to run themselves? It doesn’t work anyway.

I can’t speak for JSG, but my school requires voting for captains of all clubs and teams. Robotics falls under that. Our head coach and mentors made the decision to change from de facto leads to de jure for this year since we are trying to convene more as a leadership team in addition to normal meeting times.

Are these the role’s main concern as well? For instance, if this role’s requirements are more managerial then you may not want to focus on technical depth. If the Build Lead on your team is responsible for making sure all members of the build team are working efficiently and meeting your deadlines, then you will want to convince people that you will ensure the team finished on time and with high quality, not that you personally are really good at building stuff.

If your opponents are trying to prove that they are really good at building stuff, point out that one person alone cannot build a competitive FRC robot, and that you have the ability to ensure that everyone will work together to get the job done. Demonstrate that ability as much as possible.

This is true in all of life; that includes work, family, and all relationships. Leadership is about influencing others and serving the needs of the team; corporately and individually.

You can help the team achieve much with appropriate and effective influence, even while not being designated the leader.

Whether you are elected to the position this year or not, use this season to demonstrate your ability to help others and to drive the team to make good decisions.

Some great resources below

Running an FRC Team
Strategic Design
Scouting and Match Strategy

Simbot SW series
Their channel also has a lot of great prototyping and behind the scenes videos.

Strategic Design
Mechanical Fab and Prototyping
Mechanical Design
Student Leadership

GameSense Behind the Lines
Some great ones here. The communicate one is especially great.

As a Build Lead, managing the time of your group and coordinating their efforts with the Electrical, Pneumatics, Programming and Purchasing Groups will be very important tasks for you.

As Monochron says, one person cannot build a competitive FRC robot. A good builder who can teach his/her skill to others would make a better Build Lead than a really great builder who cannot work effectively with and through others.

I guess I never thought of it in that way, thanks for the new perspective. It is very true that having the skills and not being able to teach them would make it very hard to involve the whole team. That’s what I will look to point out. :smiley:

Thank you for the awesome resources! I actually started watching these videos back when summer began and will definitely continue in doing so.

Thank you for the resources! Very much appreciated.

I actually wasn’t talking about teaching others technical skills, I was talking about managing the students working with you. You could be the best teacher in the world, and have a very technically knowledgeable team, but if no one understands what the plan is, or if no one knows what their deadlines are, your build team will fall apart.

On our team, a Lead’s job is to make sure that their team is meeting deadlines, communicate with the other teams and with the Engineering Captain to understand what is needed when, effectively communicate that need to their team members, and to ensure their team has the required technical knowledge. Being technically proficient (or a good teacher) is certainly a part of that, but without the others I doubt the team would be healthy.

That’s just my team though. I think what will be important for you is to figure out what the role means for your team. For instance, if Mentors handle those communication aspects, then you may not need them as much as technical skill or teaching ability.

Pretty much all good advice in the thread so far. One piece of advice I have for you and your teammates is that if you don’t get the position, don’t take it personally. Like others have said, you can be a leader title or no title. One of the simplest ways to lead is by example and sometimes that means following someone else’s lead. No use having any resentment after it’s all said and done. Just something to keep in mind.