Documentation Request


Here at 637 we are looking to change our team from a middle bracket team to a competiting force among the topflight programs in FIRST. I’ve been browsing the whitepapers but am looking for something alittle diffrent.

Does anyone have any documentation about what they needed or what they have that makes them a driving force in FIRST. It’s our hope that if we ask for the best we will at least get halfway :smiley:

Noah Melamed
Team 637

I think what you are requesting is kind of not a standard document.

When running a team, some things work different for all teams.

The best advice I can give you, is to test out team structure formats until you find the right one for your team.

To start you off, I will give you an example of my team.

We have a strong mentor base between parents, and also engineers and other non-technical mentors from the community.

Our school backing is almost lacking other than the fact that we can work there and for budgeting we can fall back on their account and use that as a buffer till we raise the funds.

For leadership, we have some student leaders in each field, and some parent/mentors leading other ones.

For travel and what not, parents/mentors do most of the footwork, and for electrical and mechanical the students do most of the footwork.

It’s all a fair and even balance as far as we are concerned, and just works for us.

Could we improve?? Absolutely. Could we recruit more students and be totally student run in every way possible? Absolutely. But, like I said, I think a nice balance of mentor and student run parts of the team is key, and finding that balance in your situation is the biggest thing you need to do.

Also, a well run team usually comes with experience.

I will almost guarantee you that every team that is not a rookie this year, if you ask them how they are organized this year as opposed to their own rookie year, they will tell you they have improved organization ten-fold since then.

Good luck with your own team.


I don’t know of such a document, but I have some ideas for you. The best idea I have is to think of a few of the powerhouse teams, and go visit them and find out what it is they do to get that way.

At 1676 we have some great parent involvement, teachers who happen to also be engineers, a coach that is a fantastic motivator and organizer, mentors who give a lot, and kids that are mostly very motivated. Facilities are OK, we have saws and drill presses, sanders and (wow!) a lathe. Kids do all the design and most of the fabrication (some things we can’t do, like water-jet cut 3/16" aluminum).

What sets us apart, I think, is that we start the season in September. We have what we call Pi-Tech, each week a few classes are given by mentors, parents, guests or teachers on some aspect of the things we need kids to know. The diea is not to make them experts, but so they at least have a clue.

We also make sure everyone knows it’s not about the robot. While science and technology can solve difficult problems, it takes people cooperating and interacting in a positive fashion to make it all work. It is a team, and each member has a specific function. Maybe not what they wanted, but critical nonetheless, in that without it the whole team fails.

Every FIRST team for 50 miles in any direction from you would be tickled pink to have you visit. Pick some ones you want to be like, and make the call.


I admire you wanting to improve your team and I think you’re right to look here, but i don’t think documents or white papers will give you more than a start. Read the posts of some of the most respected people and teams in FIRST and you’ll learn a lot. Better yet, talk to them at competitions and form your own opinions about what they do that you can emulate.

I don’t think we fit yet into the category you describe, at least consistently, but we are always trying to improve. From my perspective, here’s what we’ve done and continue to do:

  1. Build and maintain a solid team
  • All teams need a solid base of respect for each other.
  • Get the support of the school and community behind you.
  • Do the extra stuff to build a team, help community, spread the word about FIRST. I can’t explain why doing things together other than building a robot is important. I just know it seems to be a common trait of all great teams I know.
  1. Improve our designs
  • Take the time to do the math and the extra prototyping. It’s easy to throw something together, a robust robot requires a good design.
  • Listen to all ideas, whether from a student, parent, or visitors. Too often some team members have a hard time accepting ideas. Last year’s BOB’s reliable gripper was designed by a first year student.
  • To that end, getting team members involved in any aspect of construction or design that they can be is critical to a team’s success.
  1. Have Fun

Teams that I’d consider top notch always seem to have fun together. Whether it’s their year to win everything or not, they’re almost always in high spirits. Maybe the fun comes because there’s less worry about funding, mentors, school support, or whatever. I think a lot of the fun comes from being with people who you’ve become friends with.

Thanks for all the input so far, I guess I was asking for documentation not becuase I think thats what FIRST is about or what it can be measured in but becuase that is how the school board will measure it.

While I see the improtance of things like dedicated members(mentor and student) and working with what you have. I also see how the School Board when faced with a request to expand the program will want to see things in simple math, (1) Mini-Lathe (2) Additional Mentor stipends, get the idea?

So if anyone else would like to describe what makes there team top flight and Ill compile the average “material” holdings of each in the end I’ll make this the first white paper of its kind I guess.

Thanks so much,
Noah C. Melamed
Team 637