I saw there were several threads similar, but I felt this was somewhat unique enough to post. So this year we have a large rookie base with some veterans, most of them seniors (including me) who will of course graduate this year. How do teams pass down the technical knowledge through the years when the we have core people leaving next year? What can I do as the lead student to help acquire that knowledge? I can say we have discussed having little classes on sensors, wheels, drive trains, vision processing, etc before build season.
Make the rookies do it with veterans leading/guiding. Instead of having them watch the veterans do it.
One word: Mentors.
A few more words: Documentation, training, pairing 1-2 rookies with each veteran student to shadow / assist / apprentice, getting rookie “hands-on time” whenever possible (outside of a time crunch), fall prototype robots, summer projects.
I’ll define “core members” as all of the students that, if they were to suddenly walk-out, would effectively dissolve the team, even if everyone else stayed and tried their hardest.
Our team is in a similar pickle: all of the experience and leadership is concentrated into juniors and seniors. We’ve been putting a lot of time into training rookies and documenting procedures this off-season, and I think we’re going to ultimately be successful. In other words, the advice in this thread is really solid. You should also try to incorporate newer students into leadership roles whenever possible, so that they become core members themselves.
Make the students ask other students for help/their question/etc. before asking a mentor. Similarly, pair up new students with old students to learn skills. In the preseason when we’re working on things, I tell the older students they cannot touch the robot and have to guide the new student to do x/y/z task. In training, always require that the less experienced person is doing the task (unless safety is a concern).
a) Utilizes knowledge of students who may be more relatable and can explain it in terms they understand (some mentors teach calc when a kid is asking about algebra).
b) Mentors have less load and can spend more time answering harder questions.
note: My mentoring goal is to enable my students to need me as little as possible.
Our team writes an engineering log everyday we do anything even remotely important from business to build. This serves two purposes. We can highlight problems and solutions we faced and pass them on through the years but also judges love to see an engineering log (that’s whats gotten us most of our awards). In this we include photos, code, and math to better explain. Hope this help u guys, it sure helps us.
The most critical part of our program has been peer mentorship.
We absolutely count on more experienced students to help teach the newer ones.
Not just engineering, machining and STEM skill sets, but more importantly, work-place readiness skills, work ethics, and Grit!
As a 7-12 school and program, having kids with 5-6 years of experience has been very beneficial to new students.
We have a bigs and littles system - each new member is paired with a veteran one of a similar interest. Also, our students teach dozens of training classes weekly to the newbies.
Similar to others, but I’ll tell you our exact method of having veterans transfer knowledge. There are two main methods:
- Between September and October, we participate in BEST Robotics, which by design discourages adult involvement in hands-on tasks. we take it one step beyond, and have our veteran students serve in the adult mentor role, while the robot is designed, built, coded and driven by the new students. BEST robots are very simple, but since they are not assembled from parts like VEX, the students learn a lot about machining in the process. Probably the biggest plus is that the 6 week build season mimics that of FIRST.
- At the same time, and through the entire fall semester, we have our students participate in an off-season build, using the same methods and materials we will use for the upcoming FIRST game. Learning to make and rivet gussets, cut standard stock, run the mill and the CNC, CAD the design, etc. is all invaluable, and since the veterans work side by side with the new kids it builds comraderie.
I talk about this all the time in my team culture presentations. In most cases with FRC, a veteran teaching a rookie a skill is not enough. Say I’m teaching someone new how to cad a drivetrain. I can teach them the skills, watch Adam’s ramp videos with them, but if come season they sit back while I do the drivetrain, they won’t be comfortable doing it when I graduate. However, by going through the process with them, designing a drivetrain and even making it if possible, they can learn by failure, iterate on their designs, and truly go through that learning process. On 1836, we don’t just let new students do things for continuity, it’s gotten to the point where our new students (especially this year in manufacturing) are critical parts of the whole robot process. Spending a week teaching a new student lathe basics means they can spend that same time in build season doing a robot’s worth of lathe work.
Don’t just teach new students so they’re ready to do stuff when you graduate. Teach new students so they can contribute while you’re still around, then take your high-level knowledge to help provide experience (design reviews, advice, etc.) as they gain experience of their own.
Re-quoted for truth.
Literally, Seniors may not make anything on the robot: Underclassmen must do it all. Trust me, they’ll learn enough for next year.
Fair warning: It is darn hard to keep your hands off. Do your best.
As a recent recruit, I agree with all of the methods previously stated. I also think that it is very important to establish a personal connection with your recruits. That way, it might feel easier for them to ask for help if they need it. I’ve personally discovered that it’s harder for me to approach a mentor/older student if I don’t know them that well. That is part of the reason that our team has started to do “Mentor Biographies” at our dinner meetings so our recruits and returning members can get to know them better, which has really helped me get to know our mentors.
This is purely my opinion and does not reflect the opinions or views of my team.