Team Australia

I’m calling on anyone who has any interest in making FIRST even more international than it is now, everyone who has even the vaguest idea how to start a team, or any advice at all on this matter.

Last year I was a Senior at grundy high school, in Virginia, USA, and was fortunate enough to be a part of team 388. After graduation, I moved back to my home, in Melbourne, Australia. It’s been a dream of mine to start a team here, and now that I’ve had time to settle back in here and get on my feet, I want to make that dream into a reality. I want to be back at a regional competition, and I want to hear the MC call out that the ‘wombot’ is about to go into competition. Most of all, I long to give others a chance to experience what I did with FIRST, to give people from my home town that opportunity, because FIRST really is that once in a lifetime opportunity that so many people dont get a chance to be a part of. It shouldnt be that way.

I’ve done some investigating, I have some ideas of what companies i think would make good sponsors. I havent applied for sponsorship as yet though, because I dont know whether it would be best to start with the sponsors, or first find a school, or a couple of schools to host the team. Whichever I approach first, they are going to want to see support from the other - basically, what I’m wanting to know here is, where do i start? What do i need to do to make this happen?

I want to get this under way now, like ASAP, because in a month’s time I’m about to be launched into first year med school, and I dont know how I will manage to juggle the two, but I at least want to have a foundation for this off the ground before I get into that. I’m willing to work as hard as it takes to make this happen, I just dont know where to start, and I dont want to start in the wrong place because I dont want to leave a bad first impression.

Any advice, anything at all would be greatly appreciated. Thanks for your time…here’s hoping the aussies will join you all in the near future.

Congratulations on wanting to start a new team and good luck with it. Im not going to lie, it is a lot of work, but it is all worth it. Dont give up. I started 1353 this year after changing schools.

If you look at that I started back in september/october you might get some ideas.

I ended up putting together a more comprehensive package than the one that is in this thread which I presented to two of the teachers at my school.

Here is how I ended up going about it (there are other ways, but this what worked for me):

First I went to a physics teacher at my school and told him a little background on FIRST and what a FIRST team does. He redirected me to the techie side of my school. I spoke to the woodshop teacher and the computers teacher (he does more than just computer classes (teaches programming, circuits, etc. ), if i remember his title i will edit and change it … sorry its late right now) and told them pretty much the same thing. They told me to write a formal proposal outlining what FIRST is, the benefit to the school, the students, and the community, what it takes to have a team, the drawbacks, how much money it costs, and a few other things (if you would like me to send you a copy of the final proposal i wrote, pm or email me and i can do that)

After I wrote the proposal, I handed it in to the two teachers and was told to wait a few days. They discussed the idea of having a team and realized that it would involve a lot of time commitment on their part. They took this into consideration and told me that they would allow a team as long as it would be student run.

At this point, I made the mistake of not going to the principal and formally introducing myself to her and more importantly introducing FIRST to her. Had I met with her at that time, I would have outlined all the details in the proposal and left her with a copy as well as ask if she had any suggestions for our team.

The next part is getting a team together. Some can argue that this can be done before because it would look better when proposing the idea. Saying a group of students is interested would be more appealing to the school than saying that one student is interested and the idea might spread. If you can do this before going to the staff, then it is a good thing to do. If not, its all right too.

To get a team together, I put an announcement in for the morning announcements (I am not sure if your school has those). It basically said if you are interested in engineering and/or programming then come to a meeting on this day at this time, etc… I let it run in the announcements for about a week so that I knew that everyone had heard it.

Then at the first meeting, I introduced the team to what FIRST was through my talking and a bunch of pictures of the competition last year and robots from last year. Over the next few meetings, the idea sank in and I showed them some videos as well. The people who were interested stayed, and those who werent dropped out.

I hope this helps you and I wish you all the best. I know how hard it can be, and how frustrating it can get, but it will all be worth it. I know that your situation is different from mine, but hopefully you will be able to benefit from this post. Good luck with starting a team. If you think that I can help you in any way, feel free to contact me.

My suggestion is to start at the top. Start with the Superintendant of Schools, your principal’s boss. Just like at your job, nothing is going to happen unless the top management gives it the OK.

When my son and I started Team 839, we started with a couple of teachers, and tried to insert the program in the school at that level. That did not work for us. It may for you. We did not make any headway until I sat down with a friend of mine who happpend to be the Vice President of the City Council. I showed him the program at my kitchen table, he made a phone call and the Superintendant of Schools called me at work the next day told me the Tech Ed. Coordinator for the school district was expecting a call from me. After sitting down with Mr Burns for 2 1/2 hours over coffee at a local restaurant explaining to him our proposal, we’ve been off and running ever since.

A note about potential sponsorhip companies, do not discount any company. Write letters, call, email, meet with them all. Whether or not they are an engineering firm or not. All companies have something to offer.

I know you don’t have an example of a robot from aprevious year’s competition down there in Australia with you, but I thyink that would be very helpful in getting team members and sponsors to join. There is probably a team here in the states with a very successful robot and the funds to ship it to Australia, and this would both give you a robot to show off to companies and give them idea of what FIRST about in that a team half a world away gave you one of their robots just to help you get started.

Support from whoever is in charge of the school is great as well. The principal of my school had our team ghost-write a letter for him to solicit sponsorship with. He took it and edited it a bit and put it on the school’s letterhead with his signature and that letter has gotten us most of our sponsors.

If you’re unable to find any sponsors (and I know how hard it is to get sponsorship for a tiny rookie team with nothing to show from previous years) you could probably get sponsorship from veteran teams back in The States. Last year my team only found a few hundred dollars worth of sponsors, and another local team gave up the money they had reserved for going to Nationals in order to pay our registration fee (mad props to Team 832) and after that rookie year, we now have plenty of experience and documentation so we’ve had no trouble in obtain lots of sponsors. Next fall when registration looms and you can’t find any sponsors, ask around for help from friendly teams (and you can count on 1127 as a friendly team) becuse I know that many teams could cut a few corners and donate some money to help you pay registration and get your team to competition.

Hope to see you next year in competition!

I think you might have an easier path if you are able to start several teams all at once, and hold a local regional there

then perhaps you could have a fund setup for all those teams, so that the winning team gets to goto the championship - remember, you only need 5 people at an event to have a team - the 4 students on the field and one adult mentor.

from the persepective of the goals of FIRST, you will get more bang for the buck if you have several teams and a local regional (reaching maybe 500 students of more) than you would if you only have one team, and spend all that money to fly the whole team to an event in the US.

Well, since we are good friends of Grundy being at Sparky and all, I want to say that I’m personally 100% behind you. I would love to help you as much as possable. Now, I need to talk to my team head, but if you need anything, I think I might be able to help you.

Anything you need in organization and/or fundraising, feel free to ask. I’ve been working on it for years and now I’m in school for business management, so I do know what I’m talking about. Hope I can help.

I am an exchange student from Germany spending my year in California and I have the opportunity to be a member of team 1110.

When I come back I want to start a team and the competition in Germany.

Who knows about starting a team and a regional? Who has any idea who to contact at FIRST?

Hello Jacqui! Greetings from Team 388, Ms. B and Ms. E. (I’m Ms E’s husband). We miss you and want you to know you will ALWAYS be part of 388. Good luck starting the new team, and with Med school. We will save a spot for you on the bus.


This is a good point. You may try to talk to the local school board(s) at a meeting and present them with FIRST. Provide pictures and videos if possible. You can even use Israel as an example, seeing that there are 12 new teams there this year. The Israeli teams (and the regional there) are all sponsored by the Israeli Branch of GM. I know that there is an Australian branch of GM too, and they might be willing to help if they know how much help their partners are giving to teams in the US, Canada, and Israel. If not them, there are probably other companies as you mentioned that you can seek help from.

Just my $.02