Ideas for mechanical training?

Hey everyone! my name is Adam and I am the new head of mechanical in my team. our crew this year has a lot of new members and I was wondering how do other teams do mechanical training and what cool ideas for activities to teach mechanical understanding do you suggest doing?


We have the rookies complete a small project to get accustomed to the shop and teach them the tools. Last year it was a small wooden/metal toy robot. If your team has the resources to do that, definitely consider it, it’s a lot of fun and is great for teaching.

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I’m in the same boat, my solution is to teach all of my new members how to use the tools in our shop, and because my team is broke broke, ill just be doing case studies and examples from there.

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Similar question for our team but slightly different- Our team has a fully equipped shop with a CNC mill, router, waterjet etc. but our school policy is that without taking a shop class, students are not allowed to use any of these tools, even during the robotics club. This has led to our fabrication training meetings consisting of only CAD. Are there any hands-on training activities that other teams do that would be fabrication related, interesting, and using only hand tools? Or even broader, other fabrication training exercises in general that are relevant to FRC but do not use heavy shop tools?

They say “the only way to learn hands on is to experience hands on.” Which isnt false. You cant expect rookies to cut metal on a bandsaw without doing it before. Of course, be there for them until they’re comfortable with doing it themselves.
What helped me was i had experience in 8th grade cutting wood on bandsaw, belt sander, drill press… Sure. It wasnt great. But it certainly helped me build up confidence and culture (i mean the safety glasses all around). When i got to robotics, “watch out, this isnt wood. It doesnt cut as easily” and with a few other warnings, i can cut almost any large pieces of metal (not the small ones where you’d have to dunk them in water every 2 seconds to cool off). I’m comfortable with the Kalamazoo (no, not MI), belt sander, files, drill press and hand held, and somewhat jigsaw.

My words of advice to mentors: if you have students working with machinery for the first time, or they dont feel comfortable, be there for them. Eventually, they’ll either build the confidence and be able to do it themselves or they just don’t like the machinery.

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If you guys use 80/20 and have old worn out robots you could hand a robot to each group however many you have and make sure at least one or two returners are in that group to help them and occasionally walk around and help another group out, its a great start! We have quite a few build freshmen this year and yesterday having a car show I set up a demonstration booth where i could operate a robot, a freshman, she seemed really interested and I drug out two beaten up chassis and we wired them up to some pnuematics in a box and robot in a box and played with it after fixing the structure and adding strength to it!

All the responses have been about mechanical construction. Does anyone do any mechanical design training? If so, what resources do you use?

I found out during build season that the school I was mentoring at this past season did not have any physics courses until Grade 12. None of the students had any idea about gear ratios or concepts such as torque or leverage so I had to do some crash courses.

A few fun projects we have done to get kids learning how to use tools and such. As long as you have a robot junkyard ( previous seasons bots)
1.Build a “tote bot” just Google it. It is fun because it is a challenge to fit everything in that space

  1. We used an old AM chassis and made a driving lazy boy chair. Man the kids put some miles on that thing.

I got some files I have acquired over time. Pm me with a Gmail and I will share them

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I checked out the tote bot and man, what a great idea, I would love to do these but unfortunately my team has such tight margins, we only have one robots worth in the junkyard (every robot we build is built from the junkyard which is just the previous years robot).

I’m copying and pasting my response fom a similar thread:

Getting new students up to speed (and moving the existing students “up the ranks”) has been a little project of mine for the past few years. Here are the things we’ve done, all of which I think have been valuable.

1. "Geared Learning"
Geared Learning is a program where our returning students teach some basic team knowledge and skills to the incoming rookies. We made a list of what the “perfect rookie” knows, and put together a plan to teach those things. We re-wrote the program last year and it worked awesomely .

2. Mock Kickoff
In a mock kickoff, we pull out the rules to an old game (old meaning between 2005 and 2015) and go through the first 2-3 days of our build season process, as if we were going to build a robot for it. We talk about rules, strategies, and mechanisms (note: I want to stop talking about mechanisms this early, and instead start talking about “unknowns” and “problems we need to solve”). This teaches all of the new students what to expect, and shows them why our kickoff process is how it is. It also gives the new student leaders some practice in leading this disucssion.

3. Workshops
In the fall, mentors from our school district teach workshops to all four of our district teams. Last year we taught 6 classes, and we’re hoping to do the same this year.

4. Off-Season Robot
After the season ends, we design a robot over the summer that we build in the fall and bring to an off-season event in October. We let last year’s rookies do a good amount of the work on this robot, and let the “veteran” members look over the work of the newer students. It’s the last piece of our “rookie education” program. This summer I also taught some Solidworks and engineering design classes beforehand, just in case.

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