Teaching Newbies

Alright so I take to here for a lot of things but it hasn’t failed me yet. My team is looking to educate the newbies in the preseason, especially since we lost our extremely strong seniors. My section includes everything to do with building, ie how to use the power tools and anything involved with the physical making of things. Does anyone have any ideas for what would be good to include?

If you all are building an off season robot, try to help them help fabricate parts. Otherwise, you could find parts from last year and help them fabricate those as practice. Some sort of realistic experience as training, so that when the season rolls around, you can more or less set them loose on a part.

Being able to make wooden prototypes and game pieces is also something handy for freshman to be able to do. Again, guided realistic practice is one of the more effective ways to teach this.

It will be hard for the CD community to give you a great answer because we don’t know your shop and resources. Think about any mechanical task you have done on a robot in your last x years on the team and make sure there are at least one kid, preferably multiple who know how to do that.

In a hypothetical world where 1836 training worked like this, we would be sure to teach mechanical students:

Using the mill, lathe, and laser cutter, running parts on 3d printers/CNC routers, Camming /Slicing parts for 3d printers/CNC Router, and finishing parts afterwards like deburring, sanding off tabs, checking for tolerances.

Common bolt sizes and their corresponding Tools etc, riveting, clecoing, how to open up the cad and follow details there, installing snap rings, shaft key (for things like cim pinions), tapping, Placing threaded inserts.

There’s a lot of fun stuff there, and there is definitely a lot I’m missing (not really super involved with Mechanical subteam training), but the point is that you will likely see stuff your team doesn’t use, and there is probably stuff that your team uses that is unheard of on mine. Each one of those tasks has shown up on an 1836 competition robot since I started as a student in 2013, and we still have at least one specialist, typically many more, that knows each of those tasks.

Every team does things differently, and its important to assess how you build robots and accomplish various game tasks in the 3695 way when putting together a training curriculum for your “newbies” (please don’t call them that, they’re teammates, not Call of Duty opponents).

Good Luck!

[size=2]You heard me.

The first thing that anybody working in the shop should learn is proper shop safety practices, and THEN how to properly and safely use the tools in the shop. (And what to do if it is discovered that a tool is unsafe.)

After that, of course, they get to learn how to assemble (and grease) a gearbox, lay out a feature they want to add to the robot and then add it (like, a hole or two that are to be used for attaching said gearbox), how to secure a shaft, how to file, and all the other robot-building and robot-maintenance-related items you can think of. If you’ve done it in your time on the team, it’s fair game to be taught.

I’ll second what Eric said about starting with safety.

Something I think you should do (and we intend on doing this year) is to have the training project based. It’s great if your shop people know how to use all the tools but it’s incredibly boring if your entire preseason is “This is a mill, here’s how to true a piece. This is a lathe, here’s how to turn a piece”.

You want them to have skills (nunchuck skills, bow hunting skills, computer hacking skills…) but if you have projects based around those skills you’ll get a lot more engagement out of the students. It would be even better if you created a project that used all of the skills they could need. For example we’re intending to break kids up into groups of two or three and have them build miniature robot frames (think 12" x 12"). They’ll learn almost every skill we could want them to have (truing pieces, CNC bearing holes, tapping axles, making frame gussets, etc) and they get to make a cool thing that they can be proud of when they’re done.

Of course, our shop tools course is much more about safety - more on what not to do and why not than about how to measure, position, and cut. We also have a “buddy system” where operation of any cutting tool has a witnesses (usually two or more), both to watch for safety conditions, and be ready to deal with a mishap should one occur. Only once in team history has any injury been beyond a cut small enough to clean and bandage with our first aid kit. Fortunately, this was a mentor, at Bayou Regional where they had some EMTs, and the situation really just called for butterfly closures (or was it super glue?) and a slightly bigger bandage than we have in our kit. (He wasn’t working on a robot, but pit construction.) We also make a point of discussing these nicks and also close calls at future meetings, to keep safety awareness high. We’re not much for safety theatre, but we do emphasize practical safety.

Not really part of **teaching **the new students, but a necessary part of bringing them on the team is that at our early sessions we ask about allergies and other health conditions the students (and mentors) may have. We had a student a few years ago with a latex allergy, so we locked up all the latex gloves and tubing and bought non-latex gloves to wear when lubing gearboxes and other messy tasks. We had another who had occasional seisures, so we developed specific procedures and took training (mostly for mentors in this case) so we could deal with it if it ever happened during robotics time.

No fault on you, but be certain to have a (proper) mentor guide the training. Improperly trained team members are not just a nuisance, they are a liability to the team and the school.

Key word “guide”, not do. Most teams with average mentorship numbers/resources simply can’t rely solely on mentors (last thing you want is mentor burnout) to do every bit of training, and good student-student training can also be great with proper oversight from a mentor.

And for some teams, it’s students guiding students teaching students.

You’ll also want to get into some of the software and programming that is used. Especially anything specific (like tank drive) that you plan on doing. This way the learning curve will be shorter and can focus more during actual build.

Pnuematics even if you don’t use them every year or not sure depending on game requirements and robot design it’s still an important option to explain and mock some stuff up. Helps students weigh and understand the pros and cons to using a cylinder vs a motor.

I am going into my second year as a build member (meaning I help build the robot), so here are things that I found helpful this last year in learning enough to contribute a decent amount during build season.

  • safety and practical tests on all the machines
  • “miniclasses” about things like basic cad and fastener and other important things
  • As dardeshna said, helping machine stuff for the practice robot. He let me machine quite a few pieces, and by messing up on some of those, i messed up considerably less during build season.
  • just talking to veteran members about stuff about the robot and the team in general helped me understand what was happening and also be more comfortable around them during build season.
  • hanging out in the pits st off-season semi-familiarized me with the hustle and bustle of competition in the pits
  • lots of practice doing grunt work :wink:

This is worth checking out. We have not implemented it yet (and it will require some work on your end to make it work for your space) but we hope that it will be effective for us this fall. Also if you search CD for Lazy Mentor (possibly not the BEST name for it) you should be able to find the entire thread about it.

Thank you guys for the suggestions. While, yes, it is different for every team I just wanted to make sure I wasn’t missing anything major, as us having workshops is entirely student led. As much as I’d love having more mentors to help, we don’t really have them outside of build season. The most we have is our head coach.