Membership cutoff


Just wondering how most teams gain new members? Do you have a deadline for joining, tryouts… for three years our team has had students join in Dec/Jan even after kickoff. Supposedly the team runs year round June-June. Many members are frustrated and feel that their year round dedication means nothing to lead mentors. Any advice?


The team also states that members are to join in June…


So you guys have tryouts every year that even veteran members have to do? I would let veterans stay once they make it and then have tryouts for new people


We do not have tryouts… just looking for ideas. When we joined the team we were told new members could only join in June all you have to do is sign up.


Well how big is your team and how much space do you have? Ideally in my opinion, anyone who wants to join should be allowed to but if you have don’t have the space or enough leadership (i.e. mentors and experienced captains and stuff) that wont work


Our team just has anyone interested join over the summer and those who don’t show up we just ignore. We got about 20 dedicated kids this year through that


I guess my question is is there a date that you stop adding new members for a particular season?


Well with our school, its usually about september mid october because there are certain fees that members have to pay since we’re a school affiliated club

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But generally, I would stop accepting at a point so that you have enough time to teach new people what they need to know for build season so I would say 2-3 months before build.

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If a team member comes in during week 4 of Build Season and wants to work, assuming you have resources to train them on safety, etc., I see no reason to stop them. If somebody comes in on Stop Build Day and wants to come to competitions, I would generally say that they are welcome to come as a spectator but they would not be a representative of the team.

In other words, if all people want to do is learn and help, let them learn and help. But if people are trying to be free riders, missing school and attending events, you can easily cut off that registration earlier.


Is there a main reason these member are joining so late? Are they typically dedicated? How much to they come once they start coming?


This was mentioned above, but if people are joining just to say they’ve done robotics or boost their resume, our lead mentor tells them to leave. If they are genuinely interested and putting in the time to work or come to competitions, then we typically don’t kick anyone off the team. We have a smaller group of members that stay throughout the entire season, and a second group that comes in whenever they can and cannot take on the entire commitment due to other activities and such.


We accept people at any point during the year. In our school, it’s normal for kids to be involved in multiple activities, and that means some of them aren’t available during other seasons. It tends to work itself out, with the more dedicated students gaining leadership roles and getting more out of the program. But just because someone can only show up for 3 months out of the year doesn’t mean they can’t contribute. Those people gain from the program just like the more dedicated people do.


We don’t really have a cutoff, if you graduate HS, you can literally still come back and be an alumni, or mentor for full time.

For our team, we start sign-ups in around Sep-Oct. This year, we got 40 kids, in which about 5 had unofficially dropped out (haven’t heard back from them, not been to any meetings), and a few others who couldn’t do it due to scheduling and life. All students that want to go on competitions must have at least 60 hours total in the 6 weeks. We’re taking about 20 this year.

After Kickoff is when we don’t accept any more requests to join as we have about 5 meetings prior to Kickoff.


We welcome whoever wants to come as much as they want/can be there. As a mentor it’s our job to teach and work with whoever is genuinely interested in engineering and robotics.

This season we have a sophomore and junior who are pretty awesome and they are getting a bit disproportionate amount time even though they play sports, are new, and can’t be there as much. Our “full-time” students are fine because they don’t need our attention as much as newer students. They also understand long-term that these kids we work with can potentially step into important roles next season once they understand what the rigors of a build season are.

Ironically, we run into issues with kids who love FRC and show up in build season full-time but have other activities in the fall. We met 3 nights a week and every Saturday from September - Christmas. So, some kids who have put in a lot of time and effort in prior build seasons feel stepped over when a newer student steps up out of nowhere in the fall and we put that person in team leadership. We’ve upset some people over the years and my biggest advice is to make sure you’re transparent about how roles and responsibilities are evaluated.


We’ll “cut off” in December as kind of a “OK, if you’re interested, why are you not in here yet?!” It’s a soft cutoff, though–we’ll allow you to join up later but you might not get a lot of the perks etc, and we’ll try to make sure you do your paperwork all at once.

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At least in my experience, if you walk by an FRC shop at a school in August-December, you are much less likely to be enticed by whatever is inside than you would be during Build and Competition Seasons. Granted, some schools have teams for multiple competitions, off-season events, etc. but the most exciting time is surely Build Season. Historically, I have noticed an influx of people wanting to join mid-season usually because they finally see something new and exciting (and shiny, of course).


You’d be surprised. We’re year-round, and when the shop is open we tend to be working on stuff. Robots, summer projects (I think mine might end up being some mill maintenance), prepping for offseasons, stuff like that.

And our faculty advisor is known to do office hours in and around the shop.


Our club’s philosophy has always been to be as open about membership as possible. Remember this whole FRC thing is about inspiring, educating, and having an impact on kids, and I believe sometimes the type of kid who you can have the most impact on is the flaky type that shows up halfway through the build season. Every year of the three I’ve been involved with FIRST, different students end up being build season stars than I expect at the beginning of the season.

Now this is entirely separate from rewards for dedicated members. There’s no reason you can’t reward dedicated members with e.g. leadership roles, drive team positions, etc. while still welcoming new members.


Anyone and everyone is welcome to join our team (there is no audition process), even students that don’t attend my team’s school, but if the student does not have their forms and payment (or scholarship request) submitted by the FIRST kickoff afternoon, the individual is removed from the roster and team events. Once/if those items are completed, they are added back to the team.

Seems pretty fair to me, which is why we do it this way.

New prospective members can start attending team events as soon as the previous season ends, after the end-of-season team banquet (~June).

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