Programming Team Best Practices

Mountain Dew for the students, coffee for the mentors! Add a white board and you are in business.

Well, I reckon it takes a little more than that. We put a lot of time into the design stage using basic flow-charting and message sequence diagrams. Our robot firmware is multi-tasking using the VxWorks message libraries to communicate between tasks. This makes it easier to separate the design and the work into isolated efforts (drive, arm, wrist, claw, camera, ds comms, autonomous, etc) with defined interfaces (the messages) to the rest of the system.


Make sure all of the programmers know the electrical side as well!! This is extremely important. We are taking the time now to have our programmers learn all the electrical components because they need to know the system that they are programming before they can program it. Our programmers are literally going through the same training as the electrical students.

Our programming team has more than a few programmers. As soon as there are more than 2 programmers project management system becomes critical in the tight First schedule. After a near disaster in 2010. Our lead programming mentor implemented the Agile development methods. I definitely saw an improvement in product development and delivery. Our programmers are a scrumin. For 2012 I tried to apply the scum method to the mechanical build. Started out OK but as the pressure mounted things kind of broke down. I’m mostly at fault. So far I have not been a very good task master. It’s one of the things that is at the back of my mind all the time. What went wrong, how did it get off track, what do I need to do different this year. How I communicate to the students Is my main focus. Effective communication is my main goal. The students rated my performance last year. One of our college student mentors did it. I’m trying to roll their evaluation forward. Every First team should implement some form of project management style. What works for one team may not work for another but, each team needs to develop their own system.