Delegating Work Within Big Design Subteam

Hi,

I recently got elected design lead for a decently big FRC team (~90ish FRC members) and the design subteam is expecting a whopping 17 people this year.
I’ve been having discussions with the other design leads about how we want to delegate the work between the subteam, and we’ve been scratching our heads at this problem for a while now.
It’s been a consistent trend for the past few years for a very small group to work on the robot design as it is difficult to delegate design work to more than a few people. (3 ish people usually)
We want as many people to get the experience to take part in the robot, but at the same time, dividing a robot between 17 people is a difficult task - not to mention the amount of time to train that many people.
We are wondering how other teams of this scale operate and delegate work within their design subteam.

Thanks

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This may not be what you want to hear…

You’re not going to be able to get 17 people coordinated on the CAD at once. But not all design work is CAD.

  1. Prototype. Prototype. Prototype. With 17 people you should have plenty of hands to build different things and try them out.
  2. Have some of the students gather information from mechanical and software about what robot designs make things easier or harder for them. For software especially, put some people in charge of learning what sensors/control system hardware will be needed/wanted and investigating how those can be put in.
    I have no idea if the second one will work with your team structure, but design cannot get un-advised control over what the robot is, or you’ll come to final design decision and your software team will feel like they’re required to work without arm absolute encoders, cameras, or whatever else didn’t get incorporated.

Also, welcome to CD!

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You could pair the more experienced with the less experienced and suddenly you’ve only got 8 groups.

Most of the time having a less experienced student struggle alone is a waste of time and often demoralizing. It’s far better to have each partner pair to explain each other’s design characteristics of what they want the design to look like and have the less experienced make the small easy parts as practice in CAD as they learn design from the more experienced while they (the experienced) work on scaffolding the robot design.

If all 17 people are equally good at design, I’d think that there’s not enough tasks to funnel into designing one robot depending on robot complexity.

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In addition to the above suggestions, for some of the mechanisms, you could have some working on multiple verisions of a mechanism, eg design multiple grabber concepts.

Or, if you budget allows and you are going to multiple regionals, have one design team create a design for the first competition that is simpler but made out quickly, and the other team create a more advanced design from the start.

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I’ve found it’s extremely helpful to have several newer design students learn how to do CAM (assuming you team uses a CNC router or any other CNC machines) and also train them to tend the machine when it’s time to make parts. This gives the veterans/leads more free time to keep working on the CAD.

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Also gets them experience with how your parts are made which should lead to better designs. We require our design team members to help out building the robot so they can learn our manufacturing capabilities better.

Find them other things to design. 2nd robot, shop furniture, organizers for various parts, etc…

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I’ve never had quite that big of a group, but typically what we’ve found helpful is to divide the design team by mechanisms (drivetrain team, elevator team, intake team, etc) and put at least one experienced designer in each group. Each group is responsible for all the mechanical parts of their mechanism (prototyping, CAD, assembly) and divides up the work amongst them. Typically we’ve had one strong leader and a bunch of newbies in each group, so the leader will sit and grind through the more challenging design and CAD while giving the newbies very small, concrete tasks to do (i.e. CAD a spacer with certain length, ID, and OD; when you’re done I’ll tell you where to mate it in the assembly). Yes, in some sense it’s “more work” than the leader just doing everything, but it’s good for building up the team for next year and the newbies are able to take on more complicated tasks as the season goes on.

Onshape is a huge help in being able to actually have 3-4 people CADing the drivetrain at the same time without tripping over each other.

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