I apologize for the wall of text, but I feel like this question merits more than a short answer.
Firstly, regardless of the answer myself or anyone else here gives you, in the end the answer is basically: “it depends”. There are a lot of factors that affect the amount of time required to be competitive such as number of people (obviously), experience, work efficiency, and the ability to streamline processes.
For example, a team with an experienced CNC mill operator will take substantially less time to make the same part compared to a novice manual mill operator. Additionally, a team that can afford to outsource some manufacturing or buy more COTS solutions will get substantially more work done for the same amount of time invested.
With that said, here’s how my team works for reference:
First, some background; 5712 has qualified for our MI State Championship and the World Championship every year but one since the team was created in 2015. In the first few years, the team basically played the role of the “24th best” robot at events that would get grabbed by a high seed alliance as a 2nd pick and do well. In 2017 we started a fairly major shift in strategy to move from “the team that gets picked” to “the team that picks our partners”. This wasn’t without its growing pains, and 2017 was the one year we didn’t make it to States/Worlds. Since then, we’ve improved our performance consistently every year, until we finally seeded 1st in our home district this year and went undefeated at that event. While I certainly don’t consider us to be one of the “best” teams in the program (yet), it’s certainly something we’re striving for, and I would definitely consider us “competitive”
Our team itself consists of between 25-35 students and roughly 15 mentors on paper, but, as is common with most teams, probably only about half of that number are there regularly. Our build space has expanded over the years and today we have a dedicated building for a full practice field, machine shop space that includes a CNC Mill, CNC Router, Lathe, saws, and 3D Printers, in addition to various other tools. Additionally, we work with a few of our sponsors to manufacture some parts for our robots (in accordance with relevant rules, of course).
Now that you have that baseline information, here’s the answer to your specific question:
Pre-season hours per week?
I consider pre-season to be roughly beginning of school through kickoff. As a general rule, we try to meet two nights a week for ~2 hours (4 hours total per week) and use the time for off-season prep and prototype “projects” (more on that later). Additionally, our high school team is highly involved with mentoring our middle school FTC team, so we put some time into that as well (it’s also a good opportunity for high school student training). Occasionally we’ll add a few hours on a Saturday when we have a bigger project we want to complete.
Build season hours during each week? And on the weekend? (Is at least one long weekend day required)?
Generally speaking build season meetings run Mon-Fri for 2-3hrs per night and Saturdays for about 6 hours. Occasionally we’ll add some time on Sunday or skip a Friday, but it generally works out to about 18 hours per week. Note that, again, this is not the entire team showing up to each of these meetings, and the only somewhat required meetings are on Mon/Wed (which have more of an organizational focus). Also, sub teams (Programming, Awards/Presentation, etc) will sometimes also have their own dedicated meetings at other times.
Competition season hours per week?
Since the elimination of bag day, we treat competition season basically like an extension of build season. Since we’re always looking for things to improve, we spend the time needed to make whatever improvements we can between events. That said, depending on our schedule of events, the focus of a given meeting may change more to event prep, rather than build.
It’s also worth noting here that our school has a program that allows you to put 1 robotics credit per year (I think) on your HS transcript if you put in 60 hours over the course of a season and attend 2 competitions. It’s not a hard requirement, but it does help incentivize attendance.
Summer hours per week or month (required to achieve this goal?)?
In our community, it’s been difficult to get a lot of student engagement in the summer due to other activities. That said, we try to meet at least once a week (maybe 2-3 hours) and will work on various projects (like I mentioned previously in the pre-season section), even if attendance is sparse.
These projects generally revolve around a capability we want to develop further. For example, several years ago, we built a small prototype tennis ball shooter to examine the effects of different types of wheeled ball shooters; This was the building blocks to the development of our turret/hood variable angle shooter that we’ve used successfully for the past 2 years. More recently, we built a swerve drive test robot over the summer and it taught us a lot about how to implement the swerve drive we put on our robot this year.
While the schedule itself isn’t particularly important, dedicating off-season time to develop skills like this is critical to the improvement of a team (build season is not an ideal time to be developing new things you’ve never tried before, if you can help it).
Lastly, I’ll say this: Fundraising, Outreach, and recruitment for a competitive team is virtually a full-time job. Our team would not be where it is today without the year-round work of some extremely dedicated individuals that seek out and maintain relationships with our sponsors and the community, and help recruit talented individuals to the team (particularly mentors). I say this not to intimidate, but just so that you don’t underestimate the amount of effort required to be competitive. Having more funding and talented people won’t guarantee you a successful robot, but it sure helps a lot!
Pre-Season: ~4hrs / week + FTC + Off-season competitions
Build Season: ~16hrs / week, including some weekend time
Comp Season: ~16hrs / week, including some weekend time + Competitions
Summer: ~2hrs / week + Off-season competitions