How do independent teams find build spaces?

#1

Hi,

I’m an FRC Alumni from GA (North of Atlanta). I recently left a well known team in GA and I am looking to start my own community FRC team. With three years of FRC experience, I feel prepared for the physical robot build, but I’m struggling to find a space to house the team. What would be the best way to start looking for affordable build spaces? Is there anyone in the GA area looking to house a rookie FRC team?

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#2

They’re a school team, but for quite a few years 1912 (Team Combustion here in Slidell) used build space which was provided by a sponsor, and it even came with access to some machine shop resources. That local sponsor went through a series of mergers, which eventually resulted in the international company pulling all their manufacturing out of Slidell.

5953, NOLABots has had to move at least once. I understand that an earlier space was provided by a sponsor, and that their current workspace is rented.

Over the years, I have heard stories of teams who worked out of a ConX (containerized shipping) box and home based workshops.

Several years we have had minimal space (more for storage than building), and did most of our work outdoors. Depending on how far north you are and what the weather’s like any given year, this might work for you as well.

My #1 plan would be to try to find a sponsor willing to provide space for free or a reduced rate.

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#3

While my team is a school sponsored team, our first couple of years we worked out of our lead mentor’s garage. Of course, this all depends on what tools and machinery you’d like, or have access to.

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#4

we work out of La Sierra High School’s old wood shop. We just happened to be looking for a new home after leaving Johnson Caterpillar’s warehouse, we just happened to talk to someone at the Alvord district office, the school just happened to have moved their woodshop to another school, and the stars just happened to align.

We basically just looked everywhere. We made up a single sheet saying who we are and what we were looking for and shared it with everyone we could think of, and on facebook and other mediums.

In the end, we got lucky.

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#5

4334 looked to be running out of a mall according to this reddit post.

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#6

I also know 5190 worked out of a retail space the past season, though they’re moving again from what I understand.

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#7

My team is relatively new, but we currently work out of a sponsor’s (a gauge factory) unused storage room.

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#8

when I was a student, we worked out of a sponsors workshop

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#9

My team started 3 years ago as a community team and was hosted by the local community college’s skills training centre. I had been introduced to the guy who ran the shops and my previous team worked there during teacher job action when we didn’t have access to the school after hours. When we started the team I met with him and asked. Sheridan College was happy to have us and gave us full use of their shops plus helped us out with tools and materials. Last summer the facility closed and everything was moved to a new facility at a different campus of the same college. We met with the Director of Economic Development at Town Hall and she set us up with the owner of a large mixed use building that he is redeveloping. Our FRC team and FLL teams met there with no shop until Christmas when we moved to a different location where we were able to set up a shop. The previous landlord let us set up a practice field in his warehouse. We’ll be moving again in the next month or so to a town-owned facility. Our FRC team now has over 50 students from 16 schools plus 4 FLL teams. I’d try contacting your local community college or Economic Development (or whatever they call it in your community) to see if they can help. You might also want to contact your mayor and/or local member of Town Council to see if they can help or introduce you to the appropriate person at Town Hall.

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#10

Team 2992 is not an independent team, but our school didn’t have any suitable place for us to use. We were building in a classroom, which came with many challenges.

Fortunately, we were given the opportunity to speak to our city council and mayor, and when asked what challenges we face, access to build space was number 1 on our list…

Especially in smaller communities – asking your local government for help sometimes works!

You can read the rest for yourself: http://www.pwmag.com/administration/personnel/engineering-a-public-works-workforce_o

We have built our last 3 robots at the wonderful facility they provide us, and have had our team’s most successful seasons the last few years as a result!

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#11

2067 has been an independent team for the majority of our existence. After we stopped working out of the school, we worked out of a mentors garage until after 2015 when he moved. Since then we have rented our own space.

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#12

Team 4926 has had 4 homes in six years! Three of those have been in unoccupied industrial building spaces. I would actually recommend driving around, looking for big buildings and then contacting the owners to see if they are willing to let you have space. You might be surprised how much unused or underutilized space you’ll find.

Make sure to ASK, ASK, ASK, you may eventually find that benefactor that shares your passion for inspiring students. Good luck on the search and keep us posted!

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#13

4476 is a community team, and consequently we have had to figure this out ourselves!

In the early stages of our team (ie 2013/2014), we built out of a garage and basement at the house of one of our lead mentors. However, with team growth and the desire to become more sustainable, we recognized that this was not going to be suitable for our needs in the future. Regardless, it worked well enough when we needed it to while we were smaller.

In 2015, we partnered with the City of Kingston and the Pump House Steam Museum to form a mutually beneficial relationship which resulted in us finding a more permanent build space. From 2015-2018 we worked out of this space (primarily during the school year as the museum would close in the winter to the general public), and when the museum underwent renovations, they built us a table suitable for an FLL table and considered needs we may have. That partnership has been fantastic.

However, with renovations it meant we were not able to stay there this year full time. During the offseason, we would occasionally host meetings at rooms booked by the FRC alumni chapter of our local university, or at mentors houses. During build, the city relocated us to a conference room at a local hockey arena (Cataraqui Arena) for a few weeks, but then on stop build day we had to move again to a space they had left empty in the Harold Harvey Centre (which is shared between us and a local performance theatre). This is where we are currently staying.

Overall, if you can form a relationship with your municipality I would certainly recommend it. It means you don’t have to rent and is, in my opinion, more sustainable than renting. If this isn’t something you can do, certainly ask your sponsors as they will be more than happy to help you or point you in the direction of someone who can.

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#14

We have been very lucky to have West Virginia University as a sponsor and partner, and we build in the Physics Department (and are sponsored by the Engineering College and Math department as well). While we are a community team, we are sponsored by / partners with the Monongalia County Board of Education, and we were the beneficiaries of a practice building a few years ago (an old metal building adjacent to a middle school). So, while we build on the WVU campus, our practice field is on school property. This actually is a great thing, because if we ever lose one of those sponsors, we can move fully into one space or the other.

I would suggest building a relationship with your local school system, or a municipality as mentioned above (The school board has been great when it comes to furthering our FLL mission, and it has been a great partnership, even though we are still a private team). If there are any large companies or organizations in your area, those can be very beneficial as well. As a last resort, renting a space of your own could work, even if it’s temporary. Empty storefronts, warehouses, etc. can all work great.

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#15

TL;DR: you need luck and perseverance, and you might have to move more frequently than you like, but don’t give up.

We’re a community team in Suwanee, GA (also just north of Atlanta); we just finished our rookie season and have been fortunate to have a couple of good spaces to work in.

We started our first team meetings (training, recruiting – basically classroom stuff) in a conference room at a local business. When it came time to start working with tools we moved to a mentor’s basement; it was a little cramped but worked fine for our small size. We built a (simple) GRITS bot down there with hand tools, a bench-top drill press and a chop saw and it worked out fine.

For this past season we were very fortunate to have a friend-of-a-friend local business owner with some extra warehouse space we could use – their business was expanding and they had just rented the vacant space next door to grow into but hadn’t fully occupied it. The space was in the kind of business/light-industrial office park that is ubiquitous in the Atlanta suburbs, so this would be a good place to go looking.

We’ve now found a home with the local makerspace (shout out to Geekspace Gwinnett) in a very similar light-industrial office park setting. Hopefully this one will last a little longer. :slight_smile:

Feel free to PM if you want to discuss further or come by sometime for a visit.

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