Hi Everyone,

How do you guys do meetings. Up until this point I have been on an FLL and FTC team and in both we had mandatory meetings at 2-3 per week. In both cases the robot was at my house and I would put in lots of hours on top of that, but other than that anomaly everyone put in the same number of hours at the same meetings. From what I’ve read on these forums, most teams do not appear to make up most of their work time from mandatory meetings. How does that work, and why do you do it? would it be possible to run an FRC team in which a large portion of the time is a result of mandatory meetings?

Thanks for your opinion,

  • Lemaint

During off season, we usually only require one meeting a week (Thursday nights), and are pretty relaxes about people not showing up to every single one.

During build season (At least this year), we required 5 days a week with a four hour minimum, with no missing back to back days. People with a legitimate excuse were let off the hook.
Example of a legitimate excuse: “I have a doctors appointment”
Example of an illegitimate excuse: “I’m going to hang out with friends”

It depends on how big your team is, and how often the meetings are. After week 2, a handful of other students and I worked almost every day from after school (2:16) to 8 at the earliest. We weren’t always working on one thing though. I’d be off cadding, while another one of these students was working with the freshman on the minibot, ect.

Another thing to consider is that too many hands leads to inefficient work. If you have ten people trying to do a two person job, either eight people will be standing around doing nothing (terrible for morale) or everyone will be working, in which case people will get in each others way making the work inefficient.

Depending on how many kids are on your team, I would consider making mandatory “build meetings.” These would be meetings for a select group of individuals who really care about the robot, and are willing to do whatever it takes to finish it.

Hope this helps.

There’s a difference between mandatory meetings and, “if you wanna be a big part of the team, come to these meetings.”. Also, for FRC, the build seasons is incredibly rigorous. For the most part, this means that most teams meet every day, sometime after school. You’ll find that the ones who are truly dedicated to the team view every meeting as a mandatory meeting, regardless of whetehr it is or not. For a lot of large teams, these mandatory meetings are just where subteams update others on their progress, where the work gets done by the subteams as they choose.

Confusing wording, yes, but hope that answers the question.

I think the main difference here is that FRC only has 6 weeks and requires a lot more fabrication, because it’s not all/any kit parts. We meet essentially every day for 6 weeks, though we give most of the team gets the first few Tuesdays/Fridays off. (CADers gotta CAD.) I logged over 230 hours on-site in 6 weeks. And I go to school 3.5 hours away from that site. Throughout competition season, we’re still meeting 3-7 times a week.

If we made all the meetings we need mandatory, we’d have 1 mentor and no students. Our meetings are all optional (except for initial orientation/safety, etc) and students+families decide their commitment. You get out what you put in, but right now we don’t have any set standards. Some teams do–requiring minimums for travel, etc. Other posts will likely cover this, but team handbooks are also helpful.

You’ll notice that this also contributes to FRC hours being much less evenly divided. Core people, especially designers log a lot of time (~400hrs). Head mentors (often also CADers) log even more. As in, upwards of 500 hours more.

The time commitment is another good point. I personally logged over 200 hours of fabrication/assembly, and upwards of 300 in CAD/design.

Not to mention that FRC consumes you, and for 6 weeks it will be all you can think about.

Our team has meetings once a week (tuesday after school) off season, and on season, we have build sessions from 5-9 (everyone stays at the library and does homework between 3:30 when school lets out and then). People are logged as having hours, and the lowest X amount that we can’t fit onto the bus flat out can’t go, though we do try to let everyone attend at least one regional.

We only have 2 or 3 ‘mandatory’ meetings during build. The first meeting is Kick-Off and the Second and Third are brainstorming.

Other than that, we don’t force anyone to show up. To be considered for the Championship a student needs to log at least 2 build sessions a week out of a total of 10 to 11 sessions.

Usually, this leads to a core group of students that know the robot inside and out, and a lot of less involved members that still can say they ‘worked’ on the robot.

We’re hoping to change this in the coming season, by switching up some build methods and finding more things for people to do. We’ll see if it works.

At the begining of the year our mentor tells the team, “The world belongs to those who shows up”. Then he lets people decide if they want to come or not, no team meeting is mandatory for everyone. However, the less you show up, the worse your chances of being on the team the following year are. Meetings about competitions and important events are mandatory if you want to attend the event.

Kickoff is mandatory for the team, as are officer elections and occasional meetings in the fall. I don’t think we’ve had an instance of someone not showing up to mandatory meetings and still demanding to travel.

We try to bring anyone we can to competitions, because we’ve found it takes one competition to really inspire students into putting extraordinary effort into the team. They really seem to bring the best out of students. While some slow starters may not be of the best benefit to the team initially, the team exists to help students, not just the other way around.

My TI-83+ tells me this translates to 11+ hours of FIRST a day. I’m all for commitment, and I’m sure there is an exaggeration factor here, but this is definitely unhealthy. Take a break.