We didn’t always have a battery person, we just had a few scattered chargers and batteries. We never knew how long they had charged or if they had any problems, which meant that we would often go into a match with an undercharged or damaged battery. The problems this caused became especially clear last year, when low battery made it impossible for our robot to climb the 30 degree incline on the ramp. We realized the problems it caused at our regional, and before we went to last year’s championship we had one of our members create a charging system with charging sheets and number batteries to track it. In this process, our “battery man” discovered that we had several faulty batteries, which we labeled accordingly and replaced. This year, our system progressed to the point where our battery man effectively managed our energy at the UTC Connecticut regional and the Championship Event… and he even helped out our alliance partners. We worship our battery man, so that’s definitely not an undervalued role on 1124.
As for the people who have undervalued scouters on their teams, we also do not have that problem. Again, last year, our scouting was at a deficit. We didn’t realize what we were missing until we met with our alliance partners for the elimination rounds and saw the kinds of incredibly valuable information we had been missing out on. That’s when we tried to find a better (aka existant) system of scouting. We tried a new one out at the Championship Event last year, but nothing really fell into place until Bash @ the Beach this year. Between the off-season events and the scrimmage, our team had a scouting team break off and develop a system for scouting other teams. By the regional this year, our scouting captain had things mostly under control. At both the regional and the Championship, the other coach and I were indebted to our scouters for providing us with information that allowed us to create winning strategies to complement our robot.
Our team also values the positions typically thought of as key roles, such as the drive team, strategists, and programmers (though the programmers are often the subject of jokes… but it’s all in good fun).
I’d have to say that there are several undervalued roles on our team, including spirit, community relations, and organization.
From personal experience, I would have to say that spirit makes a huge difference in the dynamics of a team. Not only does it get the team noticed, but it adds to the excitement and energy of a team. Being down on the field and seeing your team sitting there with long faces doesn’t get you pumped up. Hearing them cheering for you and supporting you through good and bad, on the other hand, can provide a little extra push and makes things more fun for everyone. Our team is very reserved, and has many inhibitions about being loud. They think they’re embarrassing themselves, but they don’t realize how much fun they’re missing out on. I usually end up as the only one screaming my lungs out and clapping until my hands are numb, when I get the chance to sit in the stands, anyway.
Our community relations are also something I feel is undervalued. We don’t have a set way of communicating with the our community, including our school, our sponsors, and finding ways to get information around. Also, I want to get more involved in our community with younger students in the school system because I think that the public schools don’t do a very good job of teaching appreciation for the math and sciences. I want to show kids how much fun technology it can be and explain some of its applications, but whereas I’ve done some things on my own time, the team generally is “too busy” to bring the robot on tour to the elementary schools or something of the sort. Now that the main season is over, I really hope that we can work on this point.
And finally… organizational skills. As people have mentioned with the organization of tools, I think it’s ridiculous when it takes our team half an hour to find the tool to fix something when the fix will only take five minutes. It’s a waste of our valuable time during our six-week build season and during our competitions, and it’s just a bad habit to get into in general. Good organizational skills with tools and parts can make of a world of a difference with a team. For our team especially, packing is a major issue. People throw parts into boxes without really noticing if they’ll be useful or where they ended up. We thought we had overpacked for the Championship in 2006, when we had eleven plastic and cardboard boxes in addition to our crate… this year we had fifteen, plus an overweight crate. Getting back is even worse. Though I acknowledge that we were out on the field until the last match at both of our competitions this year, it’s beyond ridiculous that we’ve gotten ushered out of the pits as the last people there on a repeated basis. They had the field completely disassembled and carried out at the UTC Regional (both in 2006 and 2007) by the time we had finished packing. And at the Championship yesterday we didn’t make it to the party until 9 pm because packing became such an ordeal. So again, organization is definitely one of the more undervalued aspects of my team.
Anyway, that’s my insight into how jobs go on the ÜberBots. (Other ÜberBots may feel free to disagree with me, as long as they explain why.)