We meet on Microsoft’s campus in Redmond, WA.
As others have mentioned, there are pros and cons to this, though we feel the pros far outweight the cons and so we’re very happy with the arrangement we have.
– We have a fantastic group of mentors that attend most of the team meetings because they are already on campus and can come by after work with little difficulty. A giant lake separates Seattle from “the east side” and is crossed by only two very busy highways. If we were to ask our mentors to come to our home school, it might take them 90+ minutes to make that trip. The reverse commute is much faster.
– During build season, our use of the tools and machines in the shop in our building is prioritized over the work of others. We get away with this because it’s a prototyping lab, because two of our mentors are in charge of that lab and because few people actually use it regularly.
– We have lots of space for work – many conference rooms, a kitchen, a large atrium, and a pretty big work area in the shop. We don’t have loads of storage on site, though.
– We can work whenever we’d like outside of normal business hours; and even then, sometimes we can work with a smaller group during normal business hours if it’s important that we do so. We do have to make sure we have an escort in the building with us, but we have loads of people who’re willing to take that on for us; even folks that don’t regularly work with the team but have an office in our building will vouch for us if nobody else can make it.
– We have to bring the entire team to the work site every day we meet. Most of our students live in a city and rely on public transit, so they don’t have cars. Additionally, they often won’t get home until 10pm or later, so we drive each of them directly to their homes. Some of our mentors will drive 75+ miles every day we have a meeting.
– We have to feed everyone when we meet on weeknights. We’re a big group, so the cost of food isn’t insignificant, but keeping everyone in the building and assuring the mentors that they’ll get something to eat helps make coming to meetings pleasant and productive.
– We have to be invisible to regular workers; so we always have to clean up after ourselves and then some. It’s a good practice, though, so it’s not that much of an issue.
Our experience pretty closely echoes that of others. We don’t have any professional machinists in our building, though, so we’re on our own with all of the tools.