Our team has faced an issue where we have plenty of people interested in the mechanical aspects of frc, but almost nobody involved with chairman’s/outreach and fundraising. What do you do to get more people in the non-mechanical sectors of frc? The team’s rules used to be that every new member must work in fundraising and outreach their first year, but we have been loosening that rule. But we worry that there may not be enough people in those areas.
The big thing to take a look at is how you’re recruiting team members and consider broadening your approach. It’s hard to convince someone who joined the team to do mechanical design to do something very different than that; it’s likely better to try to recruit members who want to do those other aspects.
I don’t know what you’re doing already, so I’ll speak in non-specific terms with an example. It’s fun to do robot demonstrations, but that’s going to mainly attract people who see the physical robot and go “I want to build that!”. If team members create write-ups/presentations talking about the business aspects (budgets, fundraising) and talk to teachers teaching those business type classes (and ideally getting the opportunity to present directly to those students during class), you might be successful in direct recruitment to the team of people who want to do that type of work.
I thought this concept was interesting, basically it boiled down to assessing what skills the team needs and what skills the team has, and then setting some goals to cover all the needed skills.
Our team does a couple of things to address this:
Every team member is required to participate on both the technical and business teams in some capacity. Doesn’t have to be big or a primary focus, but it has to be something. Work an outreach event. Set up a restaurant fundraiser. Present at a sponsor demo. Help fill out a grant application. Work with our FLL teams. Just something. And the times we’ve had someone who wants to focus on the business side, they also have to do something with the technical team. That’s often working with a prototyping group or the scouting team, but it’s their choice.
A couple years ago we made a deliberate choice to regularly share with our students everything it takes to run the business side of the team. We share congratulations when someone submits a grant application, openly discuss our budget (income and expenses), share the regulatory filings we have to do (as an independent non-profit), etc.
All of this goes to help the students (and their families) understand the entire operation and everything that goes into running what is, essentially, a small business. We’ve found that, for the most part, that helps students buy into the idea that they need to help on the business side as well - they know that if the business team isn’t successful, they won’t have the resources to build the robot they want to. And builds their understanding of how this works in industry while they’re still in high school.
It doesn’t fix everything, but it helps a lot. It did take a few years and lots of pushing to shift the mindset but it was worthwhile.
Why are you choosing to move away from this?
When we do our summer Robot School students have to sign up for one or another “track”. With perhaps 10 build, 6 software and 4 pr we aim for a reasonable balance. Of course not all the middle school kids who attend join the HS team, but a lot do.
We also make everyone signing up for build do at least basic CAD.
It has mostly worked out current team looks to be around 30 with 6 software, 7 media/pr and the rest build.
I meant that in previous years freshmen were not allowed to go into the lab, they had to stay in the computer room working on outreach/fundraising. We think this caused a lot of people to quit and have bad impressions about robotics/the team.
I can say for almost certain that had I been forced to do only buisness/awards/outreach my first year of robotics, I wouldn’t have made it past my first year.
That’s not to say those areas aren’t important, but forcing teens that are in a club voluntarily, to do something they don’t enjoy, is a recipe for disaster.
That’s just my $0.02 on that aspect of the topic. Unfortunately I don’t have much advise to give regarding the rest, but it sounds like others on here have already started with some great stuff.
Yeah, that approach certainly would be rough.
Some teams require each student to be on both a technical and non-technical sub team, so they get a chance to do both.