Team Governance

Hmmm… I have held off replying to this post for several days. I am really hoping that you did not intend this post to come across sounding the way I am interpreting it. But I can’t ignore this. Are you saying that because you are a “mentor” you are not part of the team? That you are not responsible for the students you are supposedly mentoring? I am assuming that you are an engineering “mentor” and do not feel that you should be involved in team issues other than those that involved the robot. (Please correct me if I am wrong in my assumptions). Are other teams set up this way?

Which brings me to another point. We have a great group of parents that formed a Booster Club for the team. They call themselves the RPMs. Robotics Parents and Mentors. (Cute, huh?) They help out a huge amount. I don’t even like thinking about the days before they came to be.

However you organize, a strong parents group is always a good addition. Our’s helps with food, travel, fundraising, dues, overall organization, and I think it helps all parents feel more comfortable handing over their kids for 6 weeks to a small group of “crazy” engineers with power tools.
Is your parent booster club separate from the “team”? An interesting dynamic. Why do you not consider your parents or other NEMs to be “Mentors” as well as the engineers?

Kathie, since Not2B was replying to a message in which I voiced the same theme, I’ll chime back in.

My wife and are the primary engineering mentors on our teem. My wife also has been handling most of the club management details. I’ve made it clear to the team that my interest lies in designing and building the robots. If I stay involved, I plan on not working the pit next year. It’s just too much stress and hassle. My wife and I aren’t parents and don’t enjoy playing disciplinarians. During the build we’re pretty much stuck with that role. Also, during the build, the team is more than a full time job for us. Choosing our role within the team doesn’t mean we think we’re not part of the team. Nor do we think others who are involved with the team are not mentors. However, on our team few parents have gotten involved at all.

And we do NOT want to be responsible for the kids on the team. It’s bad enough in the setting at school and at the competition event but in the less structured setting after hours at the competition, we see it as a no win situation, a source of probable aggravation, and an additional liability exposure. Frankly, we feel chaperoning the team is something better and more appropriately handled by the parents.

Back from the ATL…

Well, let me see if I can explain… As a mentor, I am a HUGE part of the team. The RPM booster club is, after all, the robotics PARENTS and MENTORS. A mentor doesn’t have any students on the team. A parent does have a student on the team. That’s the big difference. Some mentors have NO techical background. My wife is a mentor - and she works in advertising. We do have one parent who wants to be called a mentor because he doesn’t want people to think of him as a fellow student’s dad, and that’s cool. No real difference. Just the way the parent’s started the booster club, and just the way it stuck.

As mentors, we help with technical design. But we also help with chairman’s awards. With fundraising ideas. With team building parties. With scholarship activites. Off season activites. Helping the school develop an intro to engineering class. Etc… etc… etc… I would say the mentors and parents are very much part of the team. Otherwise, we wouldn’t be shot up in laser tag, stay up all night at a 24 hour walk-a-thon for cancer research, and spend our summers helping students build RC cars.

I think that helps frame where our team comes from…

All I was saying is that, as a mentor on a trip, we are responsible for alot of what is going on in the pits and all the field. As you know, it’s a long day. In addition to having fun and learning with the students, we are typically responsible for the safety and learning that the students are involved with. We have limited mentors (or parents) and we need backup. At the end of the competition day, it’s good to know that we have parents as chaperones. “Mentors” get tired. I think we all feel safer knowing that a fresh set of people are there to step in and help out. That doesn’t mean we don’t go out to dinner with the team, or play cards in hotel rooms until late at night. But is does mean that I don’t have to drag myself out of bed at check-in time and make sure everyone is where they need to be, because I know someone else is doing that check.

As far as the bus/plane issue - This is the second time in 5 years I have not traveled with the team. I’ve done the bus many times. But because my company does not allow for time off for robotics, I had to get down and back quickly.

So I think this is a definition issue. If you’ve ever seen our robot, you’d know that the “mentors” are not there only to work on the robot. If anything, we work on the students, and let the robot go by the way side. Part of our definition system is not identifing non-engineering mentors - we are all just mentors. I don’t mind calling out some people as non-engineering, but we don’t. It’s all good.

I hope this helps - sorry to be so long winded. Let me know if you have any other questions.

If you need more proof, I have a sinking feeling that there will be a few videos of me from Atlanta on this website in a few days. The students are still trying to decide if they like “Bungee Brian” or “Screaming Brian” better.

OK Not2b is not only a part of the team HE IS THE HEART & SOUL OF IT. He is responsible for the students on our team under his Head Mentor-ship we have had only one injury on the team in 5 years, why? because he keeps us from doing something dumb. He not only mentors or team he has kept is alive and cheerful through our darkest & hardest years. He donates his evenings, weekends, vacation days, and his birthdays to be with the team. Brian is the kind of mentor that can fill your head with knowledge & inspire you to do your best then be cool enough to verse your in moon bounce basket ball later that day, and I have the greatest respect for him because of it.

We have a large team OF STUDENTS we only have 5 mentors for a team of around 70. Mentors are there as volunteers of their time they are there to teach and inspire us NOT BABYSIT US. After a full days worth of working on the robot, and managing the students the mentors deserve a break, their should be someone else to keep an eye on us after the competition.

Thanks for your replies, I have a better understanding of where you are coming from now. I have a different mindset on the issue, but as we all know there is no pattern for how a team should be formed and how it should function. I think as long as the mentor roles are clearly defined and everyone has the same expectations about who will be with the team outside of the competition then you will avoid any misunderstandings.

Sorry for getting off-topic in this thread.

Thanks to all who’ve replied here. I appreciate all your input.

It’s been a while since anyone’s looked at this thread, methinks.

Is there any chance that my original question hurt my team’s chances of winning the Rookie Allstar Award in Atlanta?

Paul Dennis

I’m not sure if anyone else noticed this, but I find it interesting that in the first and the last two options, it says, ‘My team’ and for the middle two, ‘Our team’. But anyway, my team didn’t really have student leaders this year. Meetings were held to discuss different issues and to make decisions for the team. Right now, I need to get ready to leave for next class, so maybe I’ll edit this post when I get home.

One of the many things that FIRST gets right is the caliber of the people involved, judges, regional directors, volunteers, FIRST senior mentors, you name it - the caliber is there. The integrity is there.

I re-read your post before I wrote this. It was a thoughtful and polite post from someone who was excited about the FIRST experience and who would like to help his team develop and grow. Nothing wrong with that.

p.s. this is in response to Paul, sorry not to include quote.

Slim to none.
That said, there are judges who are on chiefdelphi. (me, for example.)
Although this is a wonderful place to get questions answered and to gather different points of view, everyone needs to remember that what they post may reflect back on their team-both the positive and the negative.

LIke others, our system of govrnment changes a little year to year. A lot of people consider us a young team. We are going into our 5th year next year.
Our team is setup like this:
We have 3 lead mentors on our side of things (not including FRC mentors from the Students at Georgia Tech and Jeremy Roberts)
Below our 3 mentors is our executive board. We have a CEO (me), a Chief Information Officer, a Chief Financial Officer, and an Exectuive Secretary. Now these are all fancy terms for PResident, VP, Treasurer, and Secretary.
We divide ourselves into subgroups based on questionaires that are filled out in the beginning of the year in which we ask people what type of experience they have and wht teams they want to be on.
Our teams:
FRC Build- Builds the FRC bot
FVC Build -Builds the VEX bot
FLL Mentor Team -Mentors a lot of FLL teams and helps hold Georgia subrrgionals
BEST Robotics Build Team -Builds the BEST Robot
Scouting Team - Scouts and develops scouting sheets
Personal Relations Team -Plans Outreacha events and tries to get our name out in the community
Fundrasising Team - helps plan fundraising events
Tech Team - design t shirt, create scouting DB, CAD, website etc.
Maintenance Team - Helps keep the robots that we have still working
Coomunication Team - gets info out to everyone int eh club and works with the PR team on publications about us

PRetty much, most major descisions dealing with the club come from teh Executive board and the Sponsors. We work very well together and usually have the same ideas so there aren’t any problems. If there si somethign we don’t agree upon, we usually talk about it and analyz all the pros and cons and then find a compromise or someone’s mind gets changed. An example would be something like deciding upon the requirements to travel, systems for scouting, creating new teams, etc.
We are given A LOT of free roam to try and pursue ideas that we want to try out. For instance, I asked my mentor Mr. Rosen abot whether or not w could try and run a camp. He told me to come up witht ehcurriculum schedule, and plan on how to publicize and we will analyze whether or not we can pursue it further. Higher up execs and leaders can organize outreach evnts and just let the mentors know what is going on and show them what we are going to do and how we are transporting bots and stuff there and they will just say ok and make sure it doesn’t conflict with an other events we have going on.

On the FRC side of things we come to the design phase as equals and all try and design and analyze pros and cons of different ideas together. The final say ont he design this year came from us all finally agreeing on our final design and then going out to pursue it. Our student team leader usually has the final say on who works on what.
When it comes to descions during build such as if something doesn’t seem to be working out, (like our 3 original shooters), it usually is up to our lead FRC mentor from the Georgia Tech side to make a design change. All design changes go through him. He is the project manager for the robot.
I hope this helped maybe it didn’t. I have A TON of documents on our team structure and our constitution. If you want to take a look at any of this, just PM me and let me know.
I really like the setup of team 234’s team. They won the entreprenuership award this year at Nationals. Congrats team 234.

Our team is set up on the principle of executive committee consisting of student leaders (president and 2 vice presidents), parent group leaders, and advisors. The main decisions and efforts at keeping the team moving forward are generally made by this body. I was the team president this year, and my father was the parent group leader. As student leader, I generally coordinate the student and equipment end of whatever event we are going to participate in, the logistics and supervision responsibilities usually go to the advisors, and fund raising (sponsorships) and other booster activities go to the parent group. During the build season, we employed a group based project structure. I was the project manager. I was in charge of the entire robot’s production from beginning to end, including brainstorming, design, prototyping, manufacturing, and assembly. I often received valuable advice from much more experienced adult mentors on how to be effective at my job. Below me, we have sub group leaders, who head up production of the various machine components, and work closely with me in order for me to keep robot production on track. These are generally 3rd and 4th year students. Below them, we have sub-group members, who learn how the process of robot construction works while working to create a viable component for the robot with an experienced team member. This is the system that we have employed for my four years on the team, and it has worked very well.

Was there something objectionable about what I asked or not?

I just came across this discussion and found it interesting.

Question for Tim and Not2B - I presume both of your teams are sponsored by schools. Do you then have a teacher or other school staff member who is the responsible party, essentially the chief chaperone? Our school board would not give us permission to be a group, much less travel, without a school district employee being in charge.

We are a smaller team, about 20 kids max. Much of our decision-making can be done Town Hall style, where everyone gets to put in an opinion, and consensus is achieved. We have two teachers that have the primary responsibility for organization and control. One of them is technical, the other focuses on Chairmans and other activities. We have a couple engineering mentors from our sponsoring corporations, and they are mentors, not chaperones. (Although they are adults and take adult reponsibilities when dealing with kids - for example, if they saw kids engaging in inappropriate behavior, they would not hesitate to get involved just because it “wasn’t their job description” to discipline.) We have a couple of parents, myself included, who are actively involved in robot design and build, and are classified as “parent mentors”. Most of the rest of the parents are involved as boosters and supporters in a variety of ways - fund raising, transportation, chaperones, food, etc.

Nothing objectionable at all from what I read. In FIRST, there’s no such thing as too many 1/4-20 bolts, too many bottles of caffeinated beverage, and too much knowledge from others.

Yep - that’s about right. We have 1 teacher from the school who takes care of all the school red tape, and acts as the head shaperone. We’ve never asked the school about running without the teacher, nor would I want to. The non-parent mentors and the parent mentors also have different rules. Example: I don’t have a student on the team, so I can’t drive students around. But a parent can drive students around.

And of course, if the non-parent mentors see something dangerous, or think a student is going to do something stupid, we would obviously stop them or talk to them. I would hope that just because someone isn’t an offical chaperone doesn’t mean that wouldn’t help out. Not being a chaperone just means I can go to dinner with my wife after a day of robots in Atlanta without worring about the students.

On the other hand, I just took the 8 hour night shift “chaperoneing” our 24 hour relay for life tent. So we do help out.

So when is 1188 going to win a chairman’s award? I’ve been waiting… :slight_smile:

I did not find it objectionable.

Do you think that others would, and if so, why?



P.S.: Sorry to keep pushing this, I don’t mean to be aggresive (though that may be how it comes off).

Paul, why don’t you email me at and we can chat about your concerns, rather than in this forum so we don’t get off track of the thread.

Our team meets twice a week in the off season, one long meeting to work on the robot primarily and a short lunch meeting for administrative details. There is a faculty advisor and he handles the administrative meeting and is required to travel with the team on road trips. The school also has a policy of “approved mentors” who go through a background check, fingerprinting, and TB check. Only approved mentors can work alone with the kids. Last year there were 3 approved mentors working with the team, my wife and I and one other all in technical capacities.

It sounds like your team is about the same size as ours in terms of students but you have more adult involvement. As head mentors, my wife and I worked with the club 7 days a week for the approximately 7 weeks prior to ship. Since we were the only ones with keys to the lab, we were the first to arrive and the last to leave. The other tecnical mentor had job responsibilities and was the when he could. We have 3 parents who spent a little time working on the robot. One of my requirements to compete next year, aside from having the money up front, is more adult involvement both technical mentors and parental support.

I agree with Not2B, by the time I spend all day at the competition with the students and the robot, I want to relax a little. If I saw them doing something inappropriate, I’d weigh in and stop them. However, I don’t want the added responsibility to try to follow them around and keep them out of trouble or entertain them. This year during the build I spent too much time trying to keep them in line while trying to produce a robot. I feel those activities are better handled by a parent. 300 hours building the robot and 10 hour days at the competition site are quite enough for me, thank you.

Another reason I don’t want the responsibility of being a chaperone is I don’t want the liability exposure. I don’t have a lot of confidence that the school would vigorously try to protect me should a student do something stupid and get hurt and an irate parent try to sue me. And I have a pretty good idea if the stupidity students are capable of when on road trips. You can’t be everywhere at once and things can and do happen.

Usually A Department Head works great for us


They all report to the Overall Caption

he brings issues to the table between him, the head adult on our team, and our head engineer on our team.

Thats how things work, and it works fine