Corporate Campus Sponsored Teams.

Hello All,

I was wondering if there is any teams that have their workshop where they build their robot inside a corporate campus ?

What is that experience like, such as the cons and pro versus a more traditional team that meets at a high school campus ?.


although I’m not from one of such teams, i know a few common pro’s to this situation.

-Direct onsite mentor support
-Not limited by school time/holiday restrictions
-Better learning environment for the kids if the mentor is in his/her “element”

Just a couple.

Another pro often is better facility/equipment/tools, depending on what the sponsor’s business is.

A con is transportation of students to the site.

MY team builds at a local Ford plant, one huge con is the amount of room. My team and a few others that I have talked to who build at their sponsor’s location have very little build space; we are cramped into a room that is about the size of a bedroom. Another con is dealing with security. The only benefit we actually have by working there, is they give us space for a full sized field and normally build some of it for us… free of charge! If you think machining is easier, make sure you don’t work in a place with a union, they expect overtime for any parts that are for you. As far as tools go, we aren’t allowed to use any of Ford’s stuff due to liability.::ouch::

Hope this helps

We also build at a DuPont site. Besides the pros/cons already mentioned, hours are both a pro/con. Pro because you don’t have to deal with school schedules and closings (businesses close much less often for weather than schools!). Con is we can’t start work until 5:30 at night, and that early only because we provide dinner (paid for monthly by students and delievered by parents). Space is a con - our main workshop is in one building on site, dinner is eaten in another, and playing field and storage in another on a different site. Pro is that we can work on weekends - our usual schedule during build season is Mon, Wed, Thurs 5:30-8:30, and Sundays 1:00-5:00.

About half of our mentors work for DuPont and there is an advantage being on or near our work site.

Wildstang builds at Motorola.

1714 works out of our head mentor’s plastic fabrication shop, American Acrylics. This gives us some of the advantages of working on a corporate campus. Mainly, school schedules. Since Wisconsin schools close all the time, working in a shop outside of a school means that snow days turn into 8 hour longer build days. Since the business is relatively small, during build season with prior approval team members can work every day after their other commitments are done. We also can work on weekends (and do frequently).

I don’t actually know of many cons to the arrangement at all.

Hello All,

Thanks for all the comments.

From the previous postings, I gathered the following team build on corporate campuses :

Team #1718 (The Fighting Pi) Ford Plant
Team#0365 (MOE) Dupont
Team#XXX (Wildstang) Motorola
Team#1714 (More Robotics) American Acrylics

And the PRO/CONS might be summarized as follows :


  • Better access to Industry Mentors.
  • Less “site closing” due to weather or “school day off”.
  • Access to tools / facility and materials.


  • Access to students to site. (eg. Transportation, site security process)
  • Student may not be able to use tool himself/herself due to liability.
  • Company Policies / Union Policies may limit “build process”.
  • Availability after business hours (5PM>). School maybe out 3 hours earlier.

Let me know what you guys think !.


We built at a sponsor’s site last year.

More things to consider - who cleans up? what are the pre-build expectations? and what happens if your sponsor doesn’t have interest for a following year?

Hello Trying to Help,

Good questions !.

More things to consider - who cleans up?
FOOD FOR THOUGHT : I would think teams would follow the same concept as the one that build in school classrooms. I mentored a team in Wentzville, MO where at the end of the day they would put everything back to a “closet”. Unless the company is giving the team a dedicated space, the team should clean up themselves.

what are the pre-build expectations?
FOOD FOR THOUGHT : A best way to set expectations is to set a “kick-off” meeting a couple months before the build season, have the company representative (usually a manager or a leader that is supporting the activity), talk to the team and give the pep-talk.

and what happens if your sponsor doesn’t have interest for a following year?
FOOD FOR THOUGHT : As in the “real world of engineering”, the environment change, the key is to keep the “program sold”, ensuring that the company sees the value to it’s employee for sponsoring an activity like this. I think many companies sees this as a great opportunity to get engineers to keep their skills current : develop mentoring skills, technical skills and also communications skills.

This is important. You HAVE to make sure that your sponsor sees the value of the team, sees the importance of what you do. Out of sight, out of mind, and the company may then look at their donations as a good place to cut back. We always invite our sponsors to our end of the year picnic, and do demos at the end of the year at corporates site(s), emphasizing the benefits to the students (how many scholarships won, stories of students who have graduated college and gone in engineering, etc.)


I am thinking in encouraging the teams I mentor to have a picnic… I like this idea, do you have info on how it is organized, like who cooks the burgers and get the food, is it something the parents lead, the students, the mentors or the coach ?

So I’m not sure if this counts as working on a corporate campus (because it is corporate but its not a campus, its one building) but FRC 1912 Combustion works in the upstairs loft of QinetiQ North American, one of our most loyal sponsors. There really is no place at our school that would be a good work area (we had to go that route for a few years and it was not awesome). It is nice not to have to be constrained by school hours although we still do have to be respectful of when we work because we have to ask our sponsor to open up and lock down behind us. Our mentors really stress with us the importance of always keeping the work area clean because we would hate for our sponsor to walk up there and see a huge mess. As alluded to early we have had some volatility in our build space and nothing is a guarantee. However (I’d like to think) we have a solid relationship with our sponsor and we are very grateful to them for lending us the space. There are two unique points to note about our situation though. We do not use any of our sponsor’s tool/workshop areas (everyone is told not to touch anything that is not our), none of mentors (as of currently, this was not true last season) are employees at the company. Also, since we work in the upstairs, absolutely everything we use must go up and down the stairs. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve carried robots, pits, red tool chests, parts boxes, etc. up that staircase. (I guess on one hand, it keeps us in shape…)

To elaborate more regarding 1718: students are allowed to use the teams tools: drill press, band saw, grinders, drills, etc. They are not allowed to use any of the Ford-Specific items like Mills, Lathes, and CNC’s.

There are some other pros. Our work space is never closed. Even in bad weather, our team still meets. If we need an emergency part made, we CAN get it done in a pinch.

There are definite cons too though. Especially in a larger company, you’ll run into people working there and even managers who, for no good reason, don’t really want you there. They can cause all sorts of headaches. At a school, you usually don’t see as much of that.

All in all, I would stay in the plant given a choice. The full size field is a huge plus, and always being able to work (even all nighters since we’re a three shift plant) has been very beneficial.

At the space we had for 2011 was attached to a building shared by GE and Florida Turbine Technologies. It was a huge space they used for storage and we consolidated all of their stuff to about 1/4 of the room. Our biggest issue was that their was no restroom in our suite so when we had to use it our teacher sponsor had to get a group around the building slide a security key and then everyone could walk in. Though we had one issue near the very end where a door we thought was locked from both sides wasn’t and FTT employees had been walking into our space while we weren’t there and touching and moving our things, though the FTT gremlins did see the schematics for one of our parts and tweaked it and fabricated it for us so not all bad.

I know that this is not along the same lines at all - but I do want to offer a suggestion for those teams who look at us who build outside of our school with a bit of jealousy:

One type of Sponsor to consider is a realtor. We have build for the last two years in a shopping center, in an unrented building. The real estate company provides the power and water and we get keys to the site. When build season is over, we pack up and leave the place open.

The reason this works for us is that it gives us 100% freedom to come and go when we please. The only fallback is transportation for students and our location is generally close enough to the school to mitigate this.

We make it a point each year of having a build-site group that cleans up the space entirely. We fix broken roofing tiles, paint walls that are grungy, pull up old carpet if the realtor asks - we basically remodel the place. So far, each site (both of which were unrented for about a year before us) found renters that moved in the day after we left.

Originality in Sponsorship can get you a lot of places.

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.

The good:
– 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.

The bad:
– 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.

33 builds out of the Chrysler Tech Center. It’s always been a great experience, but the shop space is tight.

469 also has a corporate campus shop, but I can’t remember the name (sorry Marjie!)

…it’s interesting to see the collection of responses here.
One thing to consider is that each shop space has it’s own individual pros/cons. I’m hesitant to accept any of these reasons as absolute, simply because it is a corporate shop space. Every school/district has their own rules just as every corporation has their own rules.

Is the purpose of this thread to decide whether to build on a corporate campus? Is is to understand potential issues with dealing with a corporation?


Thank you for the response. The purpose of this thread is to understand the benefits and challenges of working on a corporate environment. You bring a great point regards to the schools district policies.


We currently build in an unused warehouse owned by our amazing sponsors, Waterloo Gardens. It’s a huge space pretty well suited to our activities (full practice field, 3-phase power, reasonable CAD/programming room). It’s vacant so we don’t get any more access to mentors or tools, and we don’t know when it will sell. However, we have our own unlimited access. They cover the basic pipes-don’t-freeze utilities, and we bring in heaters to survive build season. We pay for our own insurance, so there are no liability restrictions from our sponsors. They actually benefit, because the building isn’t “vacant” for their insurance purposes. We don’t recruit from a single school, so it’s not inherently “off-site”/out of the way, but it isn’t very centralized.

469 works at Android Industries.