Student Team Captains/Presidents, what tools do you use to help keep all of your ducks in a row?

It’s the time of year again where my team is working on organizational improvements.

In an effort to get more organized, I’m looking for tools/materials to use. So, I decided to turn to the community for support.

Fellow captains/presidents, what do you use to stay organized, how well does it work, do you like/dislike it, and why?


Not a full team captain, just the software lead, but some stuff that helps.

  • Big whiteboard
  • Duck-keeping isn’t your sole responsibility, try and rely on other mentors/more senior members in addition to yourself
  • have scheduled meetings helps

Thank you for the insight. It’s very much appreciated!

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Schedules, open discussion at the start of meetings on where people are, what they’re doing now, and what’s slowing them down. But there’s only so much you can do and a lot of it comes down to students personal motivation and responsibility, the older a team is the generally easier it becomes but young teams tend to be a bit chaotic because well, it’s a bunch of freshmen what do you expect.


I tend to find literal ducks works quite well :smiley:


Programming head from a student organized team here. We started using Linear for task management recently, and it’s the kind of productivity app that’s so nice you actually want to use it. @NebuDev14 can probably speak much more about it.


Remember that most students, especially younger ones, want to engage and feel useful but don’t know what to do or are afraid. Always have a list of tasks Ex. Making buttons, writing thankyous, organizing screws etc that can give new members ways to be helpful once they’ve finished other tasks. Always follow up with encouragement. Build on the positive!

The more ownership each team member feels the more they will, produce.

The sooner your team members buy into and feel a part of the team, the sooner they will work, very hard, for the team.


heya, yeah! we’ve been using linear for a couple of weeks, and it’s been working well for us so far. you never really realize how useful this kind of stuff can be unless you have it.

we have tags assigned to each task based on department, and most tasks are grouped together under projects. it’s a nice way of keeping everyone on the team on task, and i recommend it a lot

(linear’s api is also pretty nice, i wrote a neat little script within a weekend so that tasks are synced up within our discord for convenience)


On my team, each meeting starts with a fifteen-minute discussion where each department head lists their current status, and the mentors use a big whiteboard to track the team’s progress on a macro scale. Each department also has a Kanban board hosted on Trello that organizes tasks based on urgency and assigns timelines to the correct sub-group. The directors of each department also tend to build additional integrations on top of the Kanban board. For instance, the programming sub-group also used GitHub issues to track feature requests and coordinate testing opportunities with the design/technical department.

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I’ve been looking for some sort of task tracking software – anything that’s geared toward projects that are more than software (e.g., orders, location-dependent tasks, task dependency structure). Does this fit that bill?

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in my opinion, it totally does! linear was advertised initially as a software development task manager (that was also my first experience with it), but it’s actually ridiculously flexible that it virtually fits any setting. it just happens to have a bit more integration for stuff like GitHub if you do choose to use it for anything software related.

in linear, you can create “projects” which essentially serve as a collection of tasks/issues. right now our workspace has projects that have issues catered towards our off-season competition, and other projects that contain general long-term stuff we want to do before the next season.

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We keep all of our ducks in a Magna drawstring bag. I think Romi kits came in them one year. We had a mass of rubber ducks from Duckietown (Jetson nano smart city and smart car kits) and that’s now the duck bag.

In all seriousness we started using the Band App to communicate, have a central calendar, do surveys, etc. If you teach the team how to use it effectively and not post comments that should be private messages or spam in the team chat it’s great! We used to have email, text, remind, discord, slack and it was a mess. Band has everything we needed (no video chats though).

Having whiteboards with an agenda is helpful but we also started using Affinity Diagrams to breakup tasks, design selection, planning, etc.

A link about them. We figure out all needed tasks for a meeting, divide it into groupings and sort the items out. Then students can take an item on as their assigned task. We ended renaming it as the “Quest Board” because the students wanted a gaming theme. Usually we divide it by subteams or if it’s all hands on deck then by 5 good group dividers. 5 groups seems to be the sweet number for our team of 29ish students. Students have to focus on one “group” of tasks per meeting so they aren’t jumping from thing to thing half finished.

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Start with a (brutally) honest evaluation of your team’s current capabilities. Use that information to guide the formulation of the team’s objectives.

There is no tool or method that can be effective when there is too much work for the people in the team to do successfully in the time available.

Guidance on how to think about this can be found in the many versions of Karthik Kanagasabapathy’s talk on “Effective FIRST Strategies” that can be found on YouTube. This is probably also a good time to ask for advice from a mentor with experience in project management.

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We have a large team (120 students), and use Trello for project management. Every subteam and feature has a label, and there is a list for what we’re doing each week, where every single task is on it’s own card. We also do a standup at dinner every day where each lead will say what they’ve been doing, what they’re going to do for the rest of the night, and any roadblocks they have, so that people know where help is needed.

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Your team has a group dinner every day?

Hi I am team captain and my team uses and each week we will gather all of the mentors and student leaders to go over the calendar and express our ideas. Team captain would lead the meeting with the occasional mentor help or ideas thrown in there. Also at the competitions in the hotel room each night we would go down to the lobby and have a leadership and drive team meeting. These meetings helped tremendously in our organization and making sure that if there were any issues they were resolved. Also recommend at the beginning of our meetings we would have a whiteboard and have a huge to-do list. As the meeting progressed things would get checked off and give you a visual of all the task that were then to be done. Then as the separate sub-teams split up and went on their own ways they would have a whiteboard of their individual tasks and who was assigned to completing them. Usually a mentor and a few students were assigned to a task. Last we have a channel on slack called meeting plans and recaps. We would make a list of what has to be done a few nights in advance prior to the meeting and after the meeting that night we would list off our accomplishments, ideas, important dates, and future tasks that have to be done. Hope this helps feel free to ask any questions.

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Sorry, that was incorrect. It should read everyday that our team meets after school. (3 days a week during build season)

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A straightedge or yardstick helps to keep them aligned.

EDIT: ducks, not people


With small-medium sized teams, learning about each of the members under you, such as there interests, personalities, etc., and having them get to know you really helps in making people willing to follow your lead. Working on off-season projects as a team also helps, so newer members can get a feeling of what the actual season will be like. By the season they should be easy to keep in line.

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capital punishment.