Growing Team

My team (hawktimus prime) has grown a lot this year. It’s such a good thing but none of us are quite sure how to handle it… we’ve gone from 15 to 45 members!

If any of you are on larger teams and have any suggestions or tips on having a large team please share!

Thanks :slight_smile:

Make sure everyone knows what they need to get done, every night, and use the time between now and kickoff to make sure they know how to do it.

A few executive team leaders should each be in charge of 3-5 team leaders, who in turn are each in charge of 3-5 team members. Team leaders make sure members are productive, or asked to leave. Executives keep the process under control and make sure the team leaders know what had to get done this night.

Set clear expectations for participation, and consequences for disrupting others.

Sitting quietly doing homework but not robotics is fine. Socializing and impeding progress instead of robotics is not fine.

Ohm yes, and once you have a job, you stick to it. Wandering away to ‘help’ someone else is not helpful. That might be the hardest part, keeping the veterans from jumping around task to task like they did last year.

There is a lot more that you can do with 45 members vs 15 members. The main piece of advice that I can give you would be to keep everybody busy. People who aren’t doing anything can distract others, and become counterproductive. Also, have a group of clear leaders (5 or so people) who tell the others what they should do. You don’t want to have 45 people walking around wondering what they should be doing.

“Many hands make light work” - John Heywood.

Along with what Don said, on our team (1676) we also separate ourselves into four divisions: Power and Control, Mechanical, Info Tech, and Non Tech. These are then broken down further into four sub-divisions. These 16 sub-divisions (some teams call them sub-teams instead; same basic idea) each has their own tasks to do, and each specializes in an area that contributes to the whole entity of our team.

For example, one mechanical sub-division works on one main part of the end effector, another mechanical sub-division works on some other main part, the electrical sub-division wires the robot, the carpentry sub-division builds the field and performs other woodworking jobs, and more. Obviously we have others such as programming which programs the robot, pneumatics which manages pneumatics, chassis which creates our chassis, etc.

In addition to our mechanical sub-divisions (Power and Control, and Mechanical), we have two divisions for Non-Tech and Info Tech, which focus on the nonmechanical aspects of our team, such as fundraising/sustainability, CAD, animation, website, awards, bookkeeping, and media. Remember, it’s not just about the robot! :]

We have dedicated team members in charge of each division and sub-division, which ensure that each group stays on task and gets finished on time. The division leaders look after the sub-division leaders, who manage their sub-division. Above the division leaders are two C.E.O.'s (one from each school in our school district), which look over the division leaders, and do other work such as attendance and such.

The key is organization. Obviously not every team divides themselves up the same, but if a team is organized, focuses on what they are doing (and understands what has to be done), and is well managed, they will without a doubt succeed. We now have 100 team members this year compared to 50 in years past, and are able to control the otherwise entropy by making sure that every member has a part on the team and knows what their job is.

I hope this helps! Feel free to ask if you have any more questions =).

MOE also uses the subteam method. (Although with ~35 members, it’s not quite as hierarchical. We have mechanical, electrical, programming, and web teams, with mechanical broken up into 4 or 5 subteams, each focusing on an aspect of the robot - drivetrain, arm, etc., depending on that year’s design. Each team and subteam has an adult leader (we are blessed with some great mentors). As the season progresses we then form a competition team, pit crew, scouting, safety lead and ambassadors (who are the main contacts for judges and visitors). Students who have no tasks on a given day help in other areas, such as button making. (We have parents and Boosterz do the travel, food, etc., but you could have students on thsoe teams as well).

Don’t forget that your team needs assignments at events as well. Every student on our team has a job at competitions - drive, pit, ambassadors, and scouting. (This is why you don’t see too many MOE students in the stands except when the robot is competing). With a large team it is easy to lose track of everyone and have bored students wander off, if they have nothing to do.

Team 811 is actually facing a similar situation, we’ve almost doubled our numbers from previous years, with now more than 50 members, all of whom are extremely active and show up almost every meeting with only a couple exceptions. The good news is this is our 11th year, and we have a pretty good system in place.

Best advice would be to set up a central heirarchy and subteam breakdown. My team has 4 “robot focused” subteams: Mechanical, Programming, Wiring, and GOD Squad (Governance, Organization, and Drivers). We also have non-robot focused, but equally important subteams: Marketing, 3D, CAD, and Website.
The subteams each have 1 or 2 leads depending on size, who report to the team leads. Together, these leads do the majority of the organization, as the team is completely student run.

After you have some sort of organizational breakdown, set up a routine for staying on track. Before each meeting, the subteam leads report to the leads of what they hope to get done, and there’s a schedule to keep everyone on the same timeline. With a routine order, things will fall into place. But don’t be discouraged if things are rocky at first, best thing is to learn from mistakes. good luck!

Team 610 has experienced a similar issue. Last season, we had roughly 40 members. This season, there are 70 team applications that were filled out. In order to find jobs for so many people, we tried splitting the team into many different sub-sections. We have divided robot building into 5 categories: CAD, mobility (drivetrain), function (manipulator), energy systems (electrical and pneumatics), and programming. We also have not robot building divisions including strategy, animation, website and business department. Each of the divisions have a student lead, as well as teacher mentor.

We also find that it is a good idea to have a 3-4 day a week minimum for students to participate. We try to have the students day availability beforehand, and this allows us to: A) not have too many students in the lab. B) So that there are jobs for everyone. Depending in your space restrictions, it may be a good idea to tell students to only come at a certain date or time, or find an additional space to work.

Depending on the regionals that you will be attending, if may be a good idea to have a “travelling team”. If you are attending a “home regional”, it would be a good idea to allow all students to attend. If you are travelling out of town/city, it would be a good idea to limit the number of students that can attend. If you tell the students beforehand about the travelling regional, and that you are going to have to select students, it adds a good incentive for them to work hard.

Thank you all so much! I’m going to share all of these with our coach.

Team 1899 has had as many as 70 members at once on the team, but we are able to make sure everyone has a job to do by, as others have said before me, crating team subdivisions.

We have a dedicated Media team (which focuses on photography and videotaping during meetings and at events), a dedicated programming team, a dedicated web team, and a LARGE PR team.

If you were to make one subdivision of your team, I would make a PR/FundRaising team first. Having a team of people who know all the information about grants, public relations, and money is really beneficial to team organization

Very wise idea, it’s always good to be present in your community and get as much P.R. as possible.

I was able to get a picture of our division and sub-division chart as I described in a post above, it should be shown below:

As you can see, each of the four divisions has four sub-divisions. Each division and sub-division is lead by a student, with two C.E.O.'s (one from each of the two school’s in our district) above the four division leaders.

I hope this helps! Please feel free to ask if you have any other questions. =)

For teams that do sub divisions, do you allow students to be in more than one group so they can experience different aspects of engineering and non engineering? What about groups who seem to have specific lifespans? Ex: What does the chassis team do once the chassis is complete?

Most of our engineering groups only do their engineering-related tasks, but recently we’ve had some non-engineering groups want to learn how to do other things, which they are allowed to do after their own work is done.

If one group doesn’t have work, they usually do miscellaneous work such as button-making, or any task that needs to get done. However, there constant seems to be work, and our chassis team is usually always busy either creating the robot’s chassis, creating our test/practice bot’s chassis, or fixing one of the two. Our idlers never seem to like to stay in one place for long =P

If a group doesn’t have work to do, but another group is running into an issue, you can do a “Tiger Team” with the finished group to come up with alternative solutions. I’ve been on those more than once when either there was an issue or we hadn’t done a detail design due to priorities. Or get some of them to do non-engineering stuff like scouting.