Finding helping hands

Hi everyone!

I am a third year robotics team member on team 368 in Honolulu, Hawaii, transitioning to a small town for college (Grinnell, Iowa). I am looking to start a team for the local high school there, but am running into several problems that maybe you guys can help me with:

  1. Not being familiar with the town or local businesses, I am at a disadvantage to have places in mind to solicit support. Situated in a very small town, there aren’t many places to look anyway. Also, I go to a liberal arts college where engineering is not very prominent or have many professors that fit into the engineering category. Unlike other teams that have institutional support from nearby universities, this means we must look at the private sector for industry professionals. I am working with a senior at the college, who has contacted many science faculty and we are waiting for responses and advice. What is the next step and can we do more?

  2. How do I approach to school and when? Having been once on a team, I understand that very early on in the year a team needs to be formed and oriented. But with the teachers on vacation, I am not even sure that one would be willing to advise our robotics team. What have other college teams done in the past to overcome this obstacle?

That’s all the questions I have right now and I hope I can really start a team for my college and expand on the number of teams in the state of Iowa (currently there are only 3!). Thank you for all of your help in advance!

I will try to give you as much advice as I can. Sounds like you have alrerady contacted a lot of the faculty. You can also contact the head of the science department at your college to get their support of the program. But one thing missing is the high school. Teachers should be going back to school in the next 2-3 weeks. Before this happens, you should put together an information package to send out the local teachers. You can usually get email addresses and mailing addresses on school board websites. What we have done in the past is contact the heads of science and math department, science related club advisors, and principals. Maybe you can find a teacher who is an alumni to the college you are going to.

Once you have the school, you should have a meeting with the teacher(s) and explain the project in full. Have an organizational plan and a timeline for getting things done including getting students, a team name, registration, and all the other things that have to get done. During the Fall, make sure to have as many meetings as possible with the students to teach them the basics of the competition. I have some of our training sessions on our website at

For sponsors, look in the yellow pages online or try searching yahoo for that city (yahoo has lists of businesses for different cities). Look for manufacturing, engineering firms, and anything else you think might be interested in robotics. You can also find local machine shops that way. Get a sponsorship package together withthe teachers. You want them to be involved as much as possible to make your life easier the next year. Go do presentations for potential sponsors. It’s always harder the first year without a robot but you can get pictures of past competitions and give them an idea of what the program is about.

I hope this helped in some way. Feel free to email me or PM me if you have any questions. Good luck!!!

The FIRST website has some very good papers on how and who to contact. Look in the resources section.

As far as starting a team, there is most likely a machine shop nearby. They may be willing to help your team. Machine shops generally need employees that have some previous training and what better way than to grow your own!

Aside from the money aspect, a team can be started in very little time. My team, the Who’sCTEK’s, registered at the kickoff in January 2001 and were able to compete that season with a very simple robot. This is not recommended but it shows what can be done if you put your mind to it.

Good Luck!

From your post it sure seems that you’re very excited about making this happen… and ambition is all you need! If you are not getting answers as soon as you’d like, or the answers you want… DO NOT GIVE UP! What I learned is to stay on top of people, keep calling and emailing them… when they see that you are putting that much time and effort into this cause, they will most likely come around with a positive response. This usually works.

Just remember not to let your grades slip :smiley:



Consider us part of your team. 103 runs out of a small town with no college, but is very artsy and has no corporate presence. We have a whole rural support network here to help you.

Check our rural support website, specifically the join us page to find all of the resource people you can handle from around the country:

You couldn’t have come from a more remote location than the islands, so apply that can-do spirit. The way to solicit businesses in a small town is to go after small to medium sized dollars from a lot of people. Here’s a form we use for local business/family/and private donations (download the community contributions flyer):

Use that as a reference … a pic of the newly formed team would be cool.

We also have a corporate sponsorship packet to go after larger dollars.

You need one crazy teacher at some level.

Find the local parents who are excited about technology opportunities (and the 3.5 million in scholarship opportunities). These areas typically don’t provide the opportunities for students so you would be giving these school and community a leg up for their kids.

At least one crazy teacher helps
hook the artsy kids with the animation and pr …
email me at [email protected] if you want to talk more.
Parents/taxpayers make things happen in public schools.
Good luck!

Thank you for all of your support and encouragement! It is definitely a nice push to help me get this started!

So I was thinking, in the worse case scenario, do you think contacting the principal of the high school AFTER school has started is too late to start a team? I figure that thought email or phone calls, it is very difficult to help a person truly understand what FIRST is and the type of work that will be involved. But if we can sit the principal or science department chairperson down, and show them some videos, pictures and publications, they will have a better understanding of it all. By the way, does anyone know whether FIRST can provide these types of medias if asked? Thank you all again!

I would talk to the principal as soon as you can. Most of the administration is in session thru the summer - they do not get the same time off as teachers.

Also, go to the FIRST site (and CD Forums) and find an out of season event and try to get a small group there. The best way to explain is to show. Out of season events are fun, lower stress levels and you can get lots of information.

Great Luck to you.