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.
President - RoboJackets
Co-Leader - GT FIRST