Feasibility of Starting a Team

#1

So, a group of around 8 kids, as an offshoot from our current FTC team, are just beginning to work on starting an FRC team. We’re putting together a team handbook, creating a website, and are just beginning to recruit mentors and email sponsors. In a parents meeting we organized, my parent, and the rest of them, all balked at the amount of work required, the money needed to be raised, and the machining resources needed.

I personally, as team captain, am going to have a very busy summer, with college applications, an eagle project and an internship, but the parents seemed to think that this was far too big of an undertaking and is entirely infeasible.

Are they right? Or if not, how can I convince them?

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#2

Do you have another team to mentor you? If you do then hit them up and see how much they will be able to help you and how much. It is a LOT of work and we have been around a while.

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#3

Unfortunately, I would have to say that they are right. I know that if your group were to go forward with it, you would be committed 100%, but what about everyone else? Starting a team is difficult and should not be done by one person and does not demonstrate leadership (I’m mentioning this because my Eagle adviser constantly reminded me of this). At the end of the day if it is only one or two people committed, everyone is going to be disappointed and walk away uninspired.

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#4

I’m not sure that there’s a right vs. wrong in this situation. Some thoughts to consider…

Why do you want to do FRC?
Consider writing out your answers. What do you want to get out of FRC that you aren’t getting out of FTC? If you do go the FRC route, it will be easier to ask others to support you if you can explain the value that you hope to gain.

What resources do you really need to do FRC?
Make a list. Include human, material, financial, facilities, time, and fabrication resources. (If you don’t know how to do this, PM me, and I’ll share with you my list). Once again, if you do go the FRC route, it will be easier if you know what you need.

What are the risks of attempting FRC?
What could go wrong? Why are your parents concerned? What do you stand to lose if the FRC team didn’t pan out how you had hoped?

Having done the previous two tasks, are the benefits worth the costs and risks?
Be honest with yourself.

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#5

As one of the founders of a new team I can tell you it took us a lot of work and effort to get the team off of the ground. Here is how we did it:

  1. Because we weren’t connected to a specific school, we established our own 501©3 organization. You really need to be part of some non profit in order to get the corporate donations you’ll need to fund the project. This is a 90 day effort and required a $700 investment. If you’re going to be part of a school, you’ll need their support to leverage their non profit status and manage the finances.

  2. Get a core set of mentors with FIRST experience that can build the program. This team will have to be very committed. We have a number of large aerospace companies in the area and were able to build a team from them that had experience and a passion for FIRST. Without them, we’d have never gotten the team off the ground.

  3. Location to meet and work. Again this is not a big deal if you’re part of a school program. We took a different direction and got pair of machine shops (Superior Metal Products and Focused on Machining) to sponsor and host us. They provided us with a great set of mentors and an awesome facility to meet in. As a result, our kids are learning how to effectively design parts with CAD that can be built and they have also learned how to do professional level machining. We’ve even had one student get a job as a part time machinist based on this experience.

  4. Raise money. As absolutly much as you can. Work the local community and corporations to get funding in.

  5. Recruit team members and promote your team.

You’re taking a good first step by tapping into the FIRST community. There are lots of resources that can help you along the way. Talk to other teams and your regional staff.

No mistake about it, this a big big effort but very rewarding. Take your time in making the decision to ensure that you and the entire founding team understands the effort and is committed to it.

Good luck!
Bruce

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