Team Preparation

Hey everyone. Spartan here. I’d just like some input on something, provided you’re okay with giving me advice =P.

Anyway, our team is off to a decent start this year, with new blood in our veins (yes, this means new guys) and a new mindset. We’ve been focusing on fundraisers right now to help pay for the entry fee.

The veterans that are left on our team (We took a hard hit last year, as half the team were seniors) have begun to develop a sort of learning process for our technical guys. We have been giving small lectures on basic and advanced mechanics and electrics, and the vice captain and I have been developing what we’re calling ‘Think Tank’ sessions, in which the new members are given a specific challenge with constraints that they must work with to come up with a working design for a specific thing, mainly a working robot design (or something along those lines).
Yes, I’m aware things are changing this year, but it’s good practice, right?

We’re also building things that we need for our events. Our robot cart was totaled at some point in the off-season somehow, so we’re having to build a new one of those ><. We’re also working on various projects on things we could find useful, just keeping our minds sharp. Oh. And we’re stressing GP and safety the most.

So, across from this, what else shoudl we do to get our new guys adjusted to the routines?

While I’m sure you’re not looking for a “rah rah good job” reply, it does seem that your team is well thought out and is certainly heading in the right direction. One thing you may want to focus on that I didn’t see in your list is programming. This is a new challenge for all teams with the controls change, and any advantage you can get early would certainly be beneficial.

Team work, I cannot stress that enough. Make sure to stress the point the everyone is equal, no students should EVER talk down to another student. Make sure everyone understands that they have a voice and that their ideas are important. Aside from being a feel good type of thing it will help get some very creative ideas. Maybe also have all students participate in these ‘Think Tank’ discussions. Just make sure the older students are learning leadership lessons and not just taking over.

Also, I know you are covering safety, are you focusing on prevention or on recovery? For example, many years ago RUSH trained us all in how to handle it when people get injured. Yeah, hopefully you will NEVER have to know what to do when someone gets their hand cut open but it never hurts to know. Point is, focus on preventing it but also train them on what to do if it happens. Make sure that all of you know who to call and what to do in case of an emergency.

Damien, I didn’t think about recovery and such. Prevention DID cross my mind, but never thought about 'What if." And teamwork is a definite yes. We’re working on that, and really the veterans are trying to keep our hands back so the rookies can get the swing of things. But yes, everyone is workign together. Or, at least, we’re doing the best we can.
After having to deal with being talked down the previous year by a few folks, we’re being EXTRA careful not to do that to the new guys.

Well, boiler, programming is true. Luckily, we lost one programmer to graduation, but picked up another one, so she’s busy getting an understanding of the codes and such. Thanks for bringing it up, though. You reminded me I need to look at the old books myself, there.

Oh, on another note, apparently our tools were stolen during the summer, so we’ll have to drive to get a few this year. But thanks for your input thus far.


Now is the time to start seeking out the kids who are sitting in the corner, fading into the background, and losing confidence in their abilities. Get them involved and do as much as you can to show them that they can contribute as well.

Good job on getting the cart out of the way now. Also consider if your crate needs any maintenance.

FIRST is hard in the fall because most of the guys want to build something right away, and it’s hard to wait until January. We went out and spent about $600 on a IFI Frame, a couple toughboxes, some wheels, sprockets, chain, and hardware and we’re having our brand new students build a drive right away.

Being a team based out of a college, we have students from a few different area high schools. In previous years, we had 4-5 new students if we were lucky every year. This year, we have over 20… from just one of the schools. Getting them something to do early is a great way to lock them in.

We all know how great FIRST is. The hard part is getting other people to see it as well.

Another great option is if you have the budget, going out and getting some VEX kits, creating your own game, and having the new students form into teams, and compete with eachother. This allows them to get a taste of FRC, the communication skills, the format of the build season, and aids them in getting to know people.

Other things you can do now:
• Website redesign
• Newsletter preperation
• Prototyping something
• Tshirt ideas and designs
• Teaching CAD, Inventor, and/or Solidworks
• Teaching about components
• Attend new control system seminars
• Teaching the new control system (tell them what you know, tell them what each thing does)

It sounds overall like you are doing a great job already. But make sure you take an approach that every student matters.

It sounds as though you need to invest in some good locks and start locking places down. Cart being destroyed and tools being stolen are generally signs you arent locking up properly. Secure your stuff, even if you think no one would want it. This includes material, scrap metal is a very big business now. Just a thought.

EDIT: Make sure to go over with students that the equipment is all of yours, it is all you have and if it is stolen or broken you must do without.

Go have some fun as a team. Bowling, laser-tag,stage a lan party. All work and no play makes for one long season.

You’d be suprised. We just did a bowling event Friday =D