Engineering Team

I was thinking a night or two ago, and one of the things that was on my mind was how I always make these great plans for projects (room automation, balancing robot, etc.) but they never materialize for various reasons (no money, mainly). So that bought me too thinking about FIRST, and what would happen if I could do these kinds of projects, but somehow involved in a FIRST way. Couple trains of thought later, and I had an idea of an Engineering Team. It would be sponsored in the same way as FIRST teams (corporation donations, fundraising), but the money would be pooled together, and anybody on the team that needed money for a project would take a reasonable amount from the pool to buy what they needed. The money aspect, of course, would have to be governed by some sort of system, but with GP as a backbone. Each week or so, the team would meet and bring their projects to show, and present problems which could be solved as a team. This kind of idea is a realization of the speech that Dean always gives: “You did this in 6 weeks, what could you do in 6 months? 6 years?”.

I think something like this would be really cool, but would need a lot of organization to bring it alive. Any ideas?

That sounds like an awesome idea. Another alternative could be to alter or rebuild previous robots to a new task or team made game. That way you would have most of the resources on hand and could go to a current sponsor for a little extra if you need it (and if they will give it). I think it is important in one form or another to continue the level of innovation, work, and learning usually found in build season into other parts of the year. If your idea works, it could provide a great opportunity to members of the team.

It sounds cool, but it seems way too limited. So someone gets money and they get to go out and make a really cool transmission. How does that help anyone else?

If you found a way to make it benefit a large numer of teams, that would be cool. However, it’s going to be hard to involve a lot of teams due to geography. It’s probably also going to be very hard to convince current or new sponsors to give money for a cause that doesn’t really have any tangible benefit.

If the whole idea is to share designs and concepts, I think the best way to go about it is the way Andy Baker and the fine folks from 45, Joe Johnson, and others have, and share their designs for all to see in a public forum such as this

The concept sounds great guys. I have a few suggestions based on what the GT RoboJackets are attempting to set up. We previously had only competition teams that were motivated only by the goals of our various competitions. This didn’t give us nearly the flexibility we wanted in order to explore engineering concepts. We also didn’t have very much institutional knowledge. When a member would leave, so would everything he or she knew.

We have therefore revamped our organization with the goals of developing the skills of our membership as a core group with which we can better help others in terms of sharing ideas and mentorship. Specifically, we initiated a plan in which we have development money allocated based upon a proposal system where any interested member can propose a project. The projects are sorted in terms of priority. The top few projects are assigned project leaders and money and the projects are seen through to completion with documentation. Then the next project in the queue is assigned a leader and money, and so on until we run out of money or projects. The money will definitely run out first. The documentation can then be shared with the rest of the team and whoever else is interested.

The engineering project selection depends on the esimated cost of the project, what new skills or technology can be developed from it, timeline, and how many members are on board to work on it.

The project documentation starts with the proposal then continues to refined objectives, designs, experimental procedures, code, etc. Also, during the project, there are to be general team updates where the progress of the project is reported, as well as a presentation of problems encountered as to open up the ‘floodgates to the solution pool.’

This way, a project can be general like a balancing robot, but the documentation will give access to information on specific systems such as sensor selection, performance and integration into controls or mechanical design considerations and performance. This information can be used to refine future experimental projects or open up many options for competition robots.

Possibly the best part of this system for us, in terms of our FIRST program, is that we develop a skilled core of mentors for our team.

The detailed set up would depend on the dynamics of your team. I’m sure I’ve left many things out, but this post is kind of long already. But let me know what you think.

Jevawn Roberts
[email protected]
President - RoboJackets
Co-Leader - GT FIRST

i would setup a organization with rules on what it can and can’t do (what projects are within the scope and where donated monies can be spent)…solicit some help from an accountant in the area and ask for information on setting up a charitable corporation who’s goals are exactly what you set. Once setup go down to the local bank and setup an account then you can begin to get donations.

Hopefully that can get you on your way.

Wow. This idea couldn’t get much better. The possibilities for it are endless, truely endless. This has potential to become a think tank comparable to those that Xerox, IBM, and now Google have that may be high but look how far First has come since it started? But the thing will be with this is getting it off the ground. I think this will need to be thought out a bit more and a lot more structured if it was ever to take off. But count me in, I’ll help anyway I can.

Got to thinking about it some more, and I started to realize that maybe having each member work on a personal project isn’t the answer. What if each member pitched an idea, then the group decided which one we should work on. We’d build it and then either donate to a person who needed it, or if it was good enough, pitch the prototype to a company. The main problem I see with this whole idea though, is the use of machinery. Having mentors there solves this problem, but asking a mentor to be there during 6 weeks is a lot, never mind year round…

These ideas sound great!

What if we grouped the teams based on their home regionals? Each group of teams would hold a meeting once a month (location rotating at each of the teams’ place if they can), with a few people from each team (“representatives”). Anybody who has an idea for a project would bring the idea up, and if it’s going to be put into action, someone is put in charge of the project and a meeting would be called specifically for that project.

The representatives from each team would go home to their team with the project ideas, and anybody from their team interested in a project would contact the person in charge of the project, and go to the project meeting.

This way, instead of team 1351 doing a drivetrain project over the summer, it’s a bunch of silicon valley mechanical people doing a drivetrain project. You have more specialized people working on the project, who will all benefit from working on it. Also if you’re the only person on your team who’s interested in pursuing a certain project, that hopefully won’t stop you. It’s a more communal effort, and we can get to know the teams in our area a lot more.

As to access to machinery, etc; a team (with machinery or access to someone’s like a sponsor) could open up and say that a project team could come use their facilities if they need. Or that their facilities are open on Tuesdays from 2-5, please tell us if you’re coming.

I’m getting really excited about this idea now! i’m definately in!
Team 1351

That sounds like a great idea. It would be cool to have a FIRST Think Tank.

Maybe having single students ask for money and than doing something on there own is not that good of an idea. What about having teams, groups of students (inter OR intra team wise) and individuals make proposals, and then having a board approve the proposals. The board members could be mentors from FIRST as well as students.
This would allow everyone with ability to participate: you don’t have to be a team. If you or a group of you has an idea, write it down, say how much money you need and how long it’s gonna take.

OR make some kind of summer camp. There are teams with great facilities which aren’t being used during the summer and could easily be spared. Students could work together with mentors on projects of their own or help as a group. The team would get some publicity for it, you can have local media showing up, companies would probably sponsor this; and you can always talk about FIRST, show some robots and such…

I really think this idea could benefit an entire team because you would have new students working with veteran students making robots for whatever they wanted. A new students first experience (no pun intended) would not be the FIRST competition, but building something he/she wanted to build.

We are attempting something similar with the Vex kits, where we just let rookie students go crazy and try and spark their interest.

Also someone mentioned re-building old robots, thats something I keep trying to do, but unless you have someone cracking a whip over you …

after eading everything is this thread it sounds like everybody has the idea of just having an idea for a project that can benifit their team and their team only, what if the engineering team was just like first but with a goal in mind that would benifit society like how dean camen made the balancing wheel chair, that way if the funding is sufficent and the team follows through on the goal they may beable to present it to the sponser and try to get a patent or somethign of the sortto sell the idea and use the money from it to expand the whole organization.