Info for starting a new team (again, I'm sure)

Posted by Greg Young.

Other from Orange High School.

Posted on 11/9/2000 1:38 PM MST

Greetings,

One of the teachers at the local high school (Orange High in Hillsborough, NC) phoned me a few days ago. It seems my son has volunteered me to help with a FIRST team that is getting organized at the school.The teacher has sent an application to NASA for rookie team support and is now looking for information on finding sponsors and adult team members.

What kind of adult team members should a rookie team try to recruit? Parents of the students (who, me?) are an obvious pool, but that pool doesn’t necessarily contain the expertise needed to make the project work.

Engineers. What flavor of engineers are needed? A number of the teams appear to have sponsors that employ lots of engineers and this provides a ready pool of expertise. Is this the best way to go? How do you identify a sponsor that can provide this? Fortunately, Duke University, UNC, and Research Triangle Park are nearby and present lots of possibilities for the team to approach.

Of course, I may be an optimist and we’ll end up desperately trying to find enough people and money to get something finished by the regionals. Life’s like that some years.

Please post or email your advice to help out a rookie team. I’ll send it on to the school and stash it away to pass along to anyone else looking for such information.

Thanks,

Greg

Posted by Matt Leese.

Other on team #73 from Edison Technical HS and Rochester Institute of Technology.

Posted on 11/9/2000 3:03 PM MST

In Reply to: Info for starting a new team (again, I’m sure) posted by Greg Young on 11/9/2000 1:38 PM MST:

You’re running into some of the same problems that I’m having right now (fyi, yes I’m in the process of forming a team). Well, basically, to run a FIRST team you need all kinds of people. You definately need engineers (to help in the construction of the robot). There’s also a need for people who know how to do administrative tasks (letter writing, etc.). PR people and travel coordinators are also needed. Students and adults can really fill any of those positions and it all comes down to the skill level and commitment of both. A sponsor can provide a lot of the adult content for a team. Getting a sponsor is one of the hardest parts of FIRST. Generally the tact we’ve taken is to find some large companies in the area (not necessarily engineering companies but it’s best to target them) and call them on the phone. Speak to the operator about what you’re trying to do and they can usually direct you to the right person (in my experience, either Human Relations or Public Relations). Another method is to send letters to companies. I prefer the phone call method as it’s harder to ignore. :wink: It’s also possible to recruit help from parents. Basically, the idea is, get as many people involved and interested as possible. But be prepared to put a lot of work into it because FIRST will take it along with a lot of time. I know that ASME has a guide to starting a FIRST team that seems fairly good. It can be found off the FIRST web site (see below). I wish you the best of luck and feel free to contact me if you have any further questions.

Matt (who’s gonna ask if anyone wants to sponsor a reforming former National Champion FIRST Team in Rochester, NY)

Posted by nick237.

Engineer on team #237, sie h2o bots, from Watertown high school ct and sieman co.

Posted on 11/9/2000 9:25 PM MST

In Reply to: Info for starting a new team (again, I’m sure) posted by Greg Young on 11/9/2000 1:38 PM MST:

Greg. Get all the help you can get but explain what is needed. Tell them of how time consuming and involved FIRST can be, dont be shy about how you explain the vast amount of work that will be expected.
Its best to have only the most dedicated and informed members in the team so they wont drop out at the worst possible time because they didnt know it would be a lot of work.
Your best bet is to get a team of engineers ’ electrical/mechanical ’ people who are used to working together, less conflicts of intrest. Pick the most knowlegable person as a leader of each sub group and make every one underststand that this person has the last word to settle disputes for his group.
There should be a top leader that all information is filtered back to. This person then should deligate work back to the sub groups by use of the students.
Its great to have one sponsor who could write you a blank check but this is rare, try to get the comunity involved, push every factory and store for donations. Hold fund raisers and pummel the local newspapers for coverage of your progress. Involve every student members parents, explain your not a baby sitting service where the parent just gets rid of the student for a few hours a week. Parents are part of the team by relationship.
Have two or three student leaders that can comunicate between other students and the adults, open lines of comunication are a key to success.
Lastly try to hook up with another team near by that can help you when your in trouble, if this fails any and all teams on this site would help if asked.
Have faith in your own ability, you have already taken the first step by considering starting a team.
Nick team 237.

: Greetings,

: One of the teachers at the local high school (Orange High in Hillsborough, NC) phoned me a few days ago. It seems my son has volunteered me to help with a FIRST team that is getting organized at the school.The teacher has sent an application to NASA for rookie team support and is now looking for information on finding sponsors and adult team members.

: What kind of adult team members should a rookie team try to recruit? Parents of the students (who, me?) are an obvious pool, but that pool doesn’t necessarily contain the expertise needed to make the project work.

: Engineers. What flavor of engineers are needed? A number of the teams appear to have sponsors that employ lots of engineers and this provides a ready pool of expertise. Is this the best way to go? How do you identify a sponsor that can provide this? Fortunately, Duke University, UNC, and Research Triangle Park are nearby and present lots of possibilities for the team to approach.

: Of course, I may be an optimist and we’ll end up desperately trying to find enough people and money to get something finished by the regionals. Life’s like that some years.

: Please post or email your advice to help out a rookie team. I’ll send it on to the school and stash it away to pass along to anyone else looking for such information.

: Thanks,

: Greg

Posted by Andy Baker.

Engineer on team #45, TechnoKats, from Kokomo High School and Delphi Automotive Systems.

Posted on 11/9/2000 10:15 PM MST

In Reply to: Info for starting a new team (again, I’m sure) posted by Greg Young on 11/9/2000 1:38 PM MST:

Greg

First of all… good luck. I wish you well. One thing that you’ll find is that teams are very willing to help other teams.

Secondly, no one team or person has all of the right answers. Each team is formed differently, and operates as pioneers… since we are not established sports teams or long-standing organizations, each team is kinda blazing their own trail.

So, with that said… here are my opinions:

(I’m going to generalize, so bear with me)

Students: Make sure you get multiple grades involved, freshmen through seniors. Also, don’t just recruit the ‘ultra-smart’ crowd (Calculus, Physics, etc. students)… you also need people who can make parts and get their hands dirty. Also… embrace students who get B’s and C’s… they are the ones who will benefit the most from FIRST. You are building a team here, and not for just this year.

Teachers: These folks gotta be the backbone of the team. They tend to stay on the team longer than engineers, and they see the students more. BUT, teachers actually have less time to put into the team, unless their school system puts aside time for the team during the school day. Have the school pay them like they pay a sports coach. Make sure the sponsoring company shows their appreciation to the teachers.

Engineers: Having a diversely skilled group of engineers will help you out. I’ll try to describe what we have in order to run our team smoothly. There are a couple of us who are good at designing and teaching design to the students, and there are others who are good at making parts and putting things together (skilled tradesmen are the best at this). There really is not enough time for the designer to do much of the build work, so prints are important.

Last year, we actually had a complete set of prints for our mechanical design… for the first time. If you have a good CAD-savvy machine designer (or two) you can get this done. We had our most complex robot ever combined with the least amount of trouble in 2000.

Parents: These people are the most loyal and dedicated adults on the team… once you get them. Get them involved early and treat them just as a teacher or engineer is treated, and they will show their loyalty to the team.

The more you can get your students involved… the better. BUT, since it is your first year doing this, do not expect or require your students to do as much as students on other teams. On our team, we have a core of 10 students who have been on the team for 3-4 years… I’m constantly amazed at the talents and skills they have acquired over the years.

Many people may disagree with me on this… but I’ll say it anyway:

This year, include your students along the way as you go through this project, but don’t hold up your milestones and sacrifice your progress too much by doing this. Get the job done… ship the robot on time and have enough time to practice. Don’t fret too much if students are not doing the majority of the work. BUT, increase your student involvement every year.

In 3-4 years, you can get to the point where students are running the meetings, designing sub-assemblies, making most of the parts, and making the strategy calls at the competitions. Do not expect them to do this during this next year.

I can give you more details if you want… but I’ll stop rambling for now.

In the mean time, check out our team’s webiste (link below). We have a ‘Team Handbook’ with a student contract, student position applications, and much other stuff in it that shows how we run our team (we use this mostly for parents). Also, we have started posting some designs that people can borrow from previous year’s designs. This stuff is down-loadable.

Also, take advantage of other teams’ and organizations’ websites… like you’re doing here.

Take care,
Andy B.