Starting a GoFIRST at my Community College

At the University of Minnesota, there is a FIRST Alumni club called GoFIRST, and at my college, Saint Paul College, I am starting an Alumni club just like them. Because of the size of my college, I don’t have a large body of funding backing me like they do at the U of M. Does anyone in the Minnesota area know of any funding available for college level robotics clubs, places to buy cheap robot parts, or teams that would be willing to donate old robot parts? Thank you!

Just a quick thought - Have you considered forming a VEX-U team? If I were in college, I would be sorely tempted to form a team, use the talent pool at my college to supplement the standard VEX sensors and computing …

Good luck with whatever path you take!

Getting funding for college clubs can be pretty difficult but not impossible. Besides the usual asking companies for funding/sponsorship, one thing I’ve found to be very successful is to ask for parts instead of actual money. For example, if you need electronics or motors, ask the actual company that makes them if they would be willing to donate the parts as a sponsor. Companies are more open to this since the actual project is using their parts instead of the team spending money on something else. Having actual parts donated also makes dealing with school administration easier as I have found they care less about donations and how they are used if it doesn’t involve money.*

*This changes depending on the school’s administration.

I’m going to send you some contact information so we can talk further, but GOFIRST has in the past worked with other colleges to start FIRST alumni organizations (Dunwoody and Iowa State, for example). We’d be more than willing to help you get started with a robotics program at your college.

As far as funding goes, I’d recommend getting in touch with whoever at your college keeps track of student groups, or if there is no such person, a professor in a related field. GOFIRST started getting funded by the UMN-TC when we got in contact with a fantastic advisor who directed us towards the relevant resources. While your college most likely has significantly less available, it’s definitely worth it to find someone at your college who can be your guide to navigating the necessary bureaucracy.

VEX U is a great option for college teams, but it does tend towards the more expensive side due to the restrictions on outside materials. We will likely have a competition here at the University of Minnesota this year, so at least if you try to do that you won’t have to travel.

Like I said, I’ll PM you some contact info so we can discuss further. Good luck!