Growing Your Team

I’m looking to grow our team as our team is currently very small, and while that has not prevented us from competing well our team recognizes that we need to learn how to engage more students in our school and community.

An Abridged History of M'Aiken Magic

I’m an alumnus of the team I now coach I was a student at Aiken High School from 2009-2012. Team 1102 M’Aiken Magic (yes, the team’s name is a play on words with the city name) was founded back in 2003 by a teacher + mentor partnership with the Savannah River National Lab. The founding teacher did a lot to build culture and perform a good amount of outreach. When the founding teacher left the school and thus the team in 2008 a change of focus occurred… the mentors that continued with the team just wanted to dedicate their time to building the robot and didn’t have the drive or the energy to continue with heavy outreach efforts. The large-scale outreach stopped and generally the team became more isolated. All of the feeder FLL programs died off within 2-3 seasons and we stopped hosting an FLL Regional after the 2009 season.

The team did have a positive moment and a direction shift when a parent came in and mentored our lone FTC team at the time to a state competition win in 2009. That success sparked a general shift in focus towards FTC for the program from 2009 - 2013. This worked out in the team’s favor as the financial resources that the team had were on the low end of the scale and the team didn’t have any partnerships with local manufacturing resources to gain any competitive advantage in FRC. We were fortunate to have a firework season in 2010 with my FTC team (3864) winning worlds, and there was a push to continue to grow FTC in our area at first, but issues sprung up with both finances and disagreements about the FTC advancement model being fair lead the team to quitting FTC to move to VEX in 2014. Throughout that time our team simply participated in FRC concurrently and did not do much of anything to improve for years.

Our VEX program generally didn’t inspire the same engagement in our school/team. The team dropped/stagnated in size pretty consistently from 2014 - 2017. While some effort was made to help start another VEX program at a county high school that teams across the two schools didn’t interact at all and so the experiences of kids across the two programs were very different.

I was not a mentor or member of the team from 2014 - 2017, but I did help some in 2013.

In 2018 I had stabilized my professional career enough to consider mentoring again. I was informed that the team would actually fold if someone didn’t take up the head coaching position.

I was able to take up the lead coaching position in 2018 and set to work on a few things. I am not well versed in the most effective methods of community outreach, but I knew we needed to put ourselves out there whenever given an opportunity. I made sure to have the team attend every local STEM/Science event in our area. (There are only 2-3 such events) I then spent a lot of time to improve the team’s financial foundation. It’s not an exaggeration to say we managed to improve our yearly income by 10x. I also had to figure out how to get the team its own space… we were a in-and-out of storage closet program for 17 years with no space to call our own. Some of that effort worked out, but there were some challenges to overcome. My first thought back then was to get space in our local neighboring city of Augusta. That lead to the team getting the opportunity to compete in PCH from 2019-2020 before the rest of SC was brought in this year.

Our FRC team also had a bit of refocus as I had over time gained a passion and understanding for what FRC offered that I did not have as a student. Having the chance to compete more often for the same registration fee that got us into 1 event helped to that end.

My first year as head coach we made some different strategic robot design choices, A) build using more COTS parts as we had no manufacturing capability at that time beyond manual/hand tools and B) to just build simpler robots. Those choices along with some great driving saw us through to our first FRC program competition success in 2018. We built on that approach with more refinement in our 2019 season. By the end of the 2019 season, we had finally begun to acquire some in-house manufacturing tools such as an Omio and a Lathe. Our team was still on the smaller side with only 15 students, but we had a few very talented kids.

2020 was going to be our first season largely building a custom fabricated robot again with our only specific COTS assemblies being our drivetrain gearboxes, but that team never got to see its full potential realized when COVID hit.

Our program essentially ground to a halt through COVID and while some attempts were made to participate in at-home challenges 2021 we did not get the engagement we needed.

2022 and 2023 were like taking the team’s first steps again. We were fortunate to be given a space of our own finally at the school we were founded in, we’ve managed to maintain and grow our sponsorships (largely through my personal effort), and now we’re rekindling relationships with the Savannah River National Lab again as a younger generation of employee’s make up a majority of the workforce there and several of the engineers are alumni of FIRST teams from across the country.

Our team is small. In 2022 we had 5 students, and in 2023 we have 10. Half of the students come from our home of Aiken High School while the other half are made up of home school and a group of 3 students that make the drive from Evans High School in Evans, GA to be on our team after their local 4H FRC team folded. We are graduating 5 seniors this year.

One of the mistakes we made I believe was continuing to try and do both VEX and FRC at the same time. Our entire team participated in both VEX in the fall and then FRC starting in January. Our offseason success and improvement in 2022 was due in part to the fact the returning 5 students spent most of their time dedicated towards iterating the 2022 FRC robot.

Our team primary has always met in the evenings 2-3 times a week. Starting at 6PM and ending between 8-9PM. We then include Saturday meetings during build season for a majority of the day for between 6 to 8 hours.

Now to the point of this post and the discussion I’m hoping to have. I have a few questions I want to ask of anyone that reads this post and has time to answer.

I have other questions about training, but those can be saved for a different post. :slight_smile:

  • How does your team recruit its new students?

  • Does your team engage in targeted recruiting? (eg going into a computer science class to recruit people to join the programming team)

  • Does your team meet right after school or in the evening? How do you think this affects your participation levels in terms of students and the mentor support you have?

  • Does your team participate in FRC and FTC / VEX or just one of those programs? If you do both; how do you manage how students participate in each program considering their seasons overlap?

  • When it comes to a prospective new student’s first time visiting your team how does that process work?

  • Does your team have a planned set of activities for new students that are interested in the team?

  • Does your team primarily accept new students through a specific new-student event or is it open ended?

  • What do you think are the key things your team does to get prospective new members “hooked” and wanting to come back for more?


As a team that is not restricted to one school. Being out in the community is one of the best ways to recruit students through any kind of event as long as you are out in your community. having a robot tends to attract people with questions and people who are interested in robots. We have business cards for people who find us through these events and we have an open house at the start of the year which is where we have students actually sign up (This open house is at our local library so still in the community). We use the start of the year (Sept-December) to teach the new students before kick-off. Additionally, if you can attend an off-season event so new students can understand how amazing competitions are it helps inspire and engage new students.


Something we’ve found successful is actually having new students come to a competition as an audience member before actually coming to work in the shop. It can really help kids visualize and understand what the goal is and get them excited to compete themselves one day! In fact, this was pretty much how I started on the team!

Usually we have new students come to fall offseasons, but this year I think we’re inviting students from our town’s middle school to come watch BattleCry for a few hours.

  1. Our team primarily recruits from in school events. We have been including 2 high schools since 2020 when the the other team struggled to gain new members.
  2. We have students who go into STEM classes and introduce our team in the fall. We participate in the back to school event where we usually gain the most amount of people.
  3. We meet 6-8 one day a week for the off-season and 6-9 on Mondays and Wednesdays, 9-5 on Saturdays.
  4. Our city has 1 FLL team, 5 FTC teams, and 1 FRC team. One of the FTC teams is a primarily high school team which students from FRC are welcome to join but many do not have the time. Our biggest issue with FTC and FRC is that some of our mentors overlap programs which causes some strain on the FTC team because the mentors prefer FRC.
  5. We do 2 informational meetings in the fall and try to recruit 8th graders in the spring in order to put robotics into their mind before the go into high school the following year.
  6. In our off-season meetings we encourage students to try all of the sub-teams, especially trying to get build crew interested in CAD since the first 3 weeks of build season are primarily CAD.
  7. We keep things open and advertise out team through in school announcements while also doing the back to school events.
  8. This is something we struggle with. We had about 26 active members for pre-season meetings but when it came to late January that shrank to about 18.

Our biggest struggle is getting students from both schools. Some of our mentors want to eventually go back to 2 teams. I hope this helped.

1 Like

599 has the privilege of being housed in an enormous charter high school of 5000 students, that being said, it makes our job a lot easier. Our application period just ended, but we allow applications from rising sophomores and rising juniors, and during the summer, the highschool runs a summer transition academy for freshman to introduce them to the school and what classes here are like. We advertise robotics to them there, and allow applications from rising freshman.

Our strongest recruiting platform is word of mouth through students, flyers around school, morning announcements and presenting to classes throughout the application season.

I think the environment we create here at 599 of constant improvement a NEED for success keep students coming back and spending time at robotics making the team succeed. There’s also a level of positive peer pressure. Everyone on the team is counting on each other to complete tasks and move forward, that attitude makes everyone feel like an integral part of the team, despite it being 40 students big.

We meet during 6th period and beyond, which means that we start meeting at 2:30, and students are required to stay 5 hours a week to not drop fail the class, but the rest is up to them. During the build season, the room is open til 8pm almost everyday. We as a team also has a required hours during build season for people to be present. I’m not sure if this benefits our participation levels but it allows people time to get involved on their own rather than being asked to do certain things. Were big on initiative.

We have an intro to CAD and a more advanced CAD class here at school, and we try to get students from that class because they are already a few steps ahead with a CAD base knowledge. We don’t typically advertise to the CS classes, but we can.

Students have the option to join as a technical student or a business student. Our technical students still help with outreach things but our business members handle all our finances, grants, sponsorships, logistics and event planning. We advertise that if you join robotics, you don’t have to build robots because not everyone is into STEM and some people enjoy business aspects.

When new technical students join, we put them through “rookie integration”. This is when we take then through our 5 technical programs, our VEX team, Fabrication, EnP (Electronics and Pneumatics), CAD and Programming. Each section gets 5 hours with the rookies. The rookie class is anywhere from 8-15 students each year depending how many spots we have left, and are split up so each section of rookie integration only deals with around 4-5 students at a time.

Not sure how much this will help, but hopefully it’s a new perspective, best of luck on your recruiting and growth journey.


We have had great success with recruiting this past year (some might say too good). We have about 90 active students this year about 30% rookies.

One of biggest successes was are open house in late September (the 4th week of school). We had 72 student show up! The following meeting we had over 100 students there.

Having to open house in the 4th week of school gave us a good amount of time to advertise around our two school mainly by putting up posters. The poster was specific to advertise the open house.

At the open house we had a bunch of activities from milling a smile face to going on a photograph scavenger hunt. I can make a post with documents if people are interested.
We had people fill out a raffle cad with stamps from each of the station to win a prize. That encouraged everyone to go around to multiple stations and see lost of different parts of the team.

The open house gave people a new experience they would have never had even if they did not end up joining the team. This also gave us good word of mouth from the experiences people had.

After that we went into a 4 phase plan for training in the fall with training and a mock 3 day design(3dd). I can explain more as well if people are interested.


As a community team, we draw from 6-10 local towns/schools depending on the year and have workshop space donated by a local industry. Most of our mentors work full time day jobs which means we meet evenings (starting 6p usually) and weekends. I don’t think we’d have a solid mentor group if we met in the after-school hours.

We’re out in the local communities A LOT in the summer/fall, every sort of local town event or festival we see if we can get there. Our students recruit from their local schools and are excited to talk about their robotics team. We need to be visible in the community, both for student/mentor recruitment and for sponsor relationships.

In June, we host a recruitment open house followed by an info session night for students/families that are intrigued. The next step is to come to some summer work sessions for training projects, they’re invited to team social events over the summer, come to community outreach, and we take new students to offseason competitions/events to get a flavor of what we’re working towards. In New england, we’re fortunate that there are quite a few offseason competitions to choose from. Some students will fall off and decide it’s not for them, which is fine. Won’t know unless they test the waters.

We also run several FLL teams in the fall and have a transition program in place to ease the 8th graders graduating out of FLL into the FRC program. It’s a pretty steady pipeline of new FRC students. We definitely do not have the resource capacity to run an overlapping season with FTC.

We don’t have separate “rookie” student activities (past the above mentioned info session), but want to get new students working side-by-side with our experienced students on offseason training projects. If they find other students they connect with and feel welcomed, they’re more likely to stick with it.

We generally accept new students through the summer and early fall.

What gets them hooked? Going to the offseason competitions does it for many. That, and providing an open and welcoming space that proactively integrates new team members. Many new students will feel like they’ve found their people. And like I said earlier, it’s also obviously ok if students try it out and decide it’s not for them. But so far we’ve been able to “hook” a good number each year.

Hope all that helps spark some ideas for what could work in your community!


over the past year our team really tried hard to revive our robotics team after a third of our members graduated and returning members had a hard time developing experience last year due to covid breaks and a teacher strike. I am glad to say that over the past year we have been pretty successful going from a team of about 15 to a team of 30, 50% of which is freshman.

usually recruitment for us is going to a lot of the welcome nights for incoming freshman for our school and general school events. Our school also has slide announcements and a webcast that we tried to get into before our first “new members meeting”. At our school we also have PLTW engineering classes so we went to those and showed off the robot from last year. Its also generally good to have a presence in your school, we have a T-shirt cannon we show off at pep-fests and some football games(although right now it is our of service).

Our “pre-build” meetings(everything up till kickoff) are usually Tuesdays and Thursdays 3(afterschool)-5pm. At these meetings we try to hit a lot of skills as well as get everyone checked off on safety using the team’s tools. This year these days were very planned out we had CAD day, mock kickoff(which is a couple days), cleaning out the closet and days preparing for off season events. During build season we meet everyday except Wednesday and Sunday 3-6pm during the week and 8-2 or 3pm on Saturday. I think meeting right after school makes it easier for students to just come to the room right after class rather than leave and come back for those that go to our home high school. We do have students from other schools, full time PSEO and home school students that also are able to consistently attend.

Our “new members meeting” is our first official meeting of the year. We welcome new students, students who join after this day are also welcome but we give a big slide show giving major dates and expectations for the rest of the year.

This year due to the major influx of new members needing FRC experience we made the decision to have them build a second robot. One of our student captains and a couple of our mentors worked together to help all of the freshman build an everybot and compete in a week zero event. They managed to build it, code it, and drive it all by themselves and were very proud of their work. They are still going to a nearby practice field and tuning it to be the best.

I think the biggest thing to getting a lot of new members is being welcoming. Coming in as a freshman to an unfamiliar world and having scary seniors and adults controlling the team can be daunting. Our team has always been proud of being student let, so this year our 5 student captains have worked hard to create a welcoming place for all of our members over the year.

1 Like

We’re also a community team, but I’m pretty sure you already know that @JohnFogarty lol, but it’s for everyone else. Every situation is unique but the key to all solutions is something that our director of GA said to me. I asked her, ‘any suggestions on how to recruit more young women?’. Her answer/non-answer was “I don’t know, but I know you’ll figure it out because you’re asking about it”. the key to solving the issue is recognizing the issue and trying to address it.

Here is our unique situation and how we try to address it.

  • 9 out of 20 high schools in our county have an FRC team.
  • several other high schools have a VEX/FTC team
  • we have a large home school community in our county

We’ve connected in to the home school community, and typically that makes up the largest percentage of our student base. Pre-Covid we averaged about 25 students. 2022 and 2023 we were around 15. We’re about the only community team in north east suburbs of Atlanta. We draw students from several counties. A student driving 30-40m to get to our team isn’t unusual.

We’ve found success with robot demos at Boy Scouts and Girl Scout meetings. We’ve also done “Bring a Friend” meetings. When I mentored at a High School, is was easy to recruit at the beginning of school “Club Night”, we’d get 10-20 students. Since we don’t have a teacher connection to a school, our recruiting looks more like getting 1 or 2 students at an activity. so we grind all year. We also have maintained a large mentor base, with about 8 core mentor and another 7-ish regular mentors. Most of our recruiting connections come from our mentor base (current and former).

We usually have an open house in Aug/Sept and in May. The May open house is a great way to target 8th graders, get them connected as they enter high school.

When do we recruit…

We accept students when ever they’re ready to join. We had a student join the week before DCMP this year. It’s important to get them connected to the team when they’re ready, then worry about training. We add them to the schedule like everyone else, just that they typically are in an observation mode and help with small things.

So the most affective way that our team has at recruiting students is by participating in school activities. For example our school has an open house before school starts and our shop is open to Freshmen to walk in see what we are doing and how we are doing it, this helps get people to join just by pure exposure. At the start of this year we had around 45 kids register to be in robotics (that number died down during build season, nonetheless it was a lot of people). Just recently our school invited us to another introduction to Dreher from our feeder schools and before it got canceled we were right along all the coaches who coach at our school. By doing this it helps new kids who might be interested in any STEM related activities see what we are actually doing and be like, “hey that looks cool I want to do that”. Next can be the hardest part and that is keeping them coming back to each meeting, we do this by having build projects for the kids who are new. For Example, my freshman year I joined at the start of the school year and our team put together this activity, and the activity was that we were given random materials in the shop, like some 1x2 some wheels some brackets and we were told to build a chassis out of it. There was no mentor or veteran help, we were just told to do it. This is really what got me invested in robotics, and its also how probably half of our team got invested into robotics. Another thing that helps is making robotics easy to do, so what our team does is we don’t require attendance nor do we ask for a lot of money to register for our team. To conclude the best way you can attract students to come join is first by showing off what you do, and second is keep people coming back to the meetings.

How does your team recruit its new students?
We target rising 9th grade students who were members of either an FLL or VEX team. I receive the list of names from their coaches at the end of April. During May, those students receive a personalized invitation to attend an open house in June.
We attend a Rising Freshman Night that our school hosts in late April. We bring a robot or two for demos. Those students who express an interest in joining the team are also invited to our June open house.
We are part of “Patriot Rush” - a club rush event hosted by the school. Those potential members are invited to a second open house that we hold in September.
Our members are our best recruiters. They bring potential members throughout the year. Membership usually closes in December (see below for exceptions).

Does your team engage in targeted recruiting? (eg going into a computer science class to recruit people to join the programming team)
Our sub-team captains & lead students (along with a mentor) will visit computer classes & engineering classes.
See above for targeted rising freshmen.

Does your team meet right after school or in the evening? How do you think this affects your participation levels in terms of students and the mentor support you have?
We are an after-school program. School ends at 4pm. Weekday meets begin at 4:30 and end at 7:00 (the time is extended during build season by 45 minutes). Our Saturday meeting are from 9-4 or 9-1 (depending on if we are in build season or “off season”)
We have space in the school which makes it easier for younger students to attend our meetings (or those who do not have transportation).
Very few of our mentors have ever expressed problems with the location of our meetings.

Does your team participate in FRC and FTC / VEX or just one of those programs? If you do both; how do you manage how students participate in each program considering their seasons overlap?
We have neither.

When it comes to a prospective new student’s first time visiting your team how does that process work?
Not certain what you are asking…we do not have an application/interview process. Anyone student within the school district (including homeschooled students) who wants to join the team and has an interest in STEAM is allowed to be a member of the team.
Open House - we provide a tour of our space to members, have sub-team captains explain the purpose and duties of their sub-team. We try to have an interactive demo or activity to give new members something to do -rather than standing around watching returning members do all the work.

Does your team have a planned set of activities for new students that are interested in the team?
We usually try to have some curriculum or plan for new students.
We are going to try a boot-camp style introduction for new members this summer.

Does your team primarily accept new students through a specific new-student event or is it open ended?
Our membership remains open until December – unless the potential member has a skill or ability that the team would benefit from having.

What do you think are the key things your team does to get prospective new members “hooked” and wanting to come back for more?
For members who join during the summer, we use SCRAP (off-season event).
For members who join at the beginning of school, we use SCRIW.
Both events provide a snapshot of what robotics is mostly about (except for the judged awards).

1 Like

That’s about how I joined I went to a competition when I was eight or nine and got really interested in the team and then when I got into middle school around eighth grade and needed a afterschool activity to do I was already interested in the team and joined

Most of our new students have a pre-existing personal relationship with an existing student (sibling, scouts, church, band, etc) AND/OR they were on an FLL team mentored by an existing student.

(see above)

During Jan-Apr we meet every day after school and on Saturday. Not everyone comes every day. At our recruiting meetings we outline the expected commitment levels. For a full FRC team member, we suggest the commitment is equal to being a varsity athlete. We have an associate role with lower expectations and we also have an FTC team with a lower level of commitment required.

We do not do VEX. As mentioned above, we have an FRC team and an FTC team, but they are fairly separate. There is some mentor overlap between them, but students must choose one or the other.

We have two recruiting meetings at the public library (we are a community team) [in fact they were this past Sunday and Tuesday] to get parents and kids (mostly rising 9th graders) familiar with the team. If they are interested they can start coming to the full team meetings and then to be considered for the team in the fall they must participate in at least one of our summer camps (CAD, prototyping, CNC, Java, etc), and attend at least one summer outreach event (county fair, state fair, sponsor visits, etc)

(see above)

If an extraordinary candidate moved here in the fall I expect we would consider them, but for the most part, we have our summer process.

We have a lot of fun in our summer activities just like we do in build/comp season.

  1. Our school hosts multiple extracurricular fairs for incoming students every year, and we always make sure to have a stand at each one. Sometimes we even bring along one of our robots! We also hang up flyers around the school and have admin send out reminder emails about our annual interest meetings. We also sometimes have people join because of a friend who recommended the team to them or etc.

  2. As far as I know we don’t do a huge amount a targeted recruiting right now. Up until last year our team was still recovering from covid and we also did not need to recruit as much because we had a lot of people from the class of 2023. This year was the first year we put more focus on recruiting and it has paid off well as we have managed to replace all of our graduating seniors. Sometimes we do “collabs” with other activities, like our upcoming robot volleyball game with the Technology Student association!

  3. During preseason we meet a couple times a week after school, with the focus of our pre season meetings being on training new members. We have each of our subteams host a small workshop on a skill, and then people can go around to different lessons as they choose. We like having our pre season meetings after school because it’s easier for prospective students to check out the team. We usually have our new teacher sponsor supervise these meetings. During build season we meet from 5-8 PM every weekday and our workshop is open on the weekends too. We have no minimum attendance requirements so our members come in as often as they can/want too. We generally lose a fair amount of people in the jump from preseason to build season and that is something we are trying to work on.

  4. We only do FRC.

  5. We generally try to have them talk to our student officers/veterans and we give them a basic overview of the work our team does with robotics. This more individualized process doesn’t happen a lot because usually we have new members come in groups. At the beginning of each pre season meeting we have the entire team come together as a group and our student officers announce their plans for that meeting so people know what activities are available that day.

  6. Yes as I mentioned earlier, we usually have each subteam host workshops for prospective members at our pre season meetings, where we teach them the basics of robotics and frc knowledge. We attend an off season comp during pre season every year so our new members know how competitions work before build season. This is also when we try to introduce them to the idea of scouting. The last thing we do is host a parent info session/potluck dinner towards the end of pre season to give out info about build season and our plans for the year.

  7. We take new members throughout preseason. We generally don’t take much people during build season or post season, because we don’t get a lot of recruits during that time and it can be hard for them to contribute when we don’t have time to train them during build season.

  8. I personally think our plan of each subteam hosting their own workshops helps a lot because new members can have a hands on experience with each part of robotics and figure out what they most want to do. We don’t require new members to have any prior knowledge because we teach everything they need to know and that information is a central part of our flyers and recruitment campaign. I had no interest in being on the programming team (even though I had a lot of prior experience) until I stuck around for some of the workshops and realized the passion I had for something I never thought I could do.

So in the end this system has worked pretty well for us up to now. With all of our student officers graduating next month we had to focus on growing the team a lot in the past year, and I am personally satisfied with what we have accomplished. We are taking the seniors graduating as a opportunity to reform our team system in a sense, so our recruitment and outreach efforts next year might look a little different.

  • FLL and FTC teams local to us that get MidKnight mentorship
  • Each June, the middle schools have a ‘here’s what high school will be like’ expo day, and we present there alongside other activities
  • In-school Activity Fair at the high school each September
  • Lots of sibling/neighbor/friend connections from existing students.

Beyond the listed above, our team designed & helped the school district implement a Robotics class that follows a typical FRC workflow - learn concepts, get a game, design - build - compete - with the goal that students coming out of that class will be ready for FRC (conceptually, at least). We also integrate with / present in different tech classes for the district, since we’re considered part of the Technology Department.

We meet ‘early enough that the late buses still transport between schools’ (We’re two high schools), but ‘late enough for our entirely-workforce-mentor-base to attend’. So, 5:30pm. This allows for students to be able to access the team even if they don’t have someone at home to give them a ride back to school, and gives mentors the flexibility to be there as often as they’d like / can balance after work.

We did FTC for a few years, but with our smaller mentor base phased it out / support community teams instead. Your mention of overlap is exactly why - instead, we focus the fall-time in our shop 100% on FRC introductory workshops so our new students can learn the basics and be ready for the season. (Plus, they get FTC-size builds in the robotics class if they choose to take it.)

We typically hold an event we call RoboExpo in May/June, which brings together all our K-12 programs as a big recruitment event for the township. Between this and presentations at club fairs, this is usually someone’s first view of FRC as a new student. Once they register their interest, we hold informational sessions at the shop and they have a few weeks to come to meetings/settle in/learn before their paperwork is due to join the team.

Big this. Each monday in the fall, we host MidKnightU, where the leadership for one subteam per week breaks down who they are, what they do for the team, and how you can get involved. Once that’s complete, we move on to a program called MidKnight Foundations - where you’ll attend a few weeks of, for example, a Mechanical or Electrical workshop, an Awards/PR writing & content creation course, or Programming & CAD workshops. We close ‘learning season’ with a Mock Kickoff and design-a-thon weekend for what that prospective game would look like. That all closes around December, and we take a little break pre-Kickoff knowing our team members are ready for the challenge.

Registration is open July 1 - September 20th-ish (whatever the right Monday meeting is in the 20’s-dates.) On that 20-somethingth deadline, you need to sign the handbook, be signed up in STIMS, pay your team fee, and complete all the necessary paperwork (nurse form, engineering lab safety agreement) and you’ll be considered a team member. The only exceptions we make to that timeline is a student who may move into the district mid-year, since they couldn’t have known about the team until they got here. Otherwise, we are SUPER transparent and post / announce publicly within the schools for literal months, and if you miss that deadline that’s a you problem.

Making sure it’s really obvious that you don’t HAVE to know anything before you get here and that we’ll teach you what you need to know! The team doesn’t have to be scary, and leadership’s entire job as they start their MidKnightU education is to be personable, friendly, and welcoming as they teach. Plus, of course, some student-social-time that has nothing to do with robotics so they can bond. This for us takes the form of some pre- and post-meeting hangs, as well as general silliness in the team Discord, like game nights or general meme-ery.