Team Structure (Design)

I was wondering how different teams that use cad are structured (for example, do some teams have x amount of people working on gearboxes, a few working on the drivetrain)? My team is currently short on members who cad (4 people total), and we wanted to see how other teams are organized. Any insight/help is much appreciated!

Thank you! :slight_smile:

1072 had a robot cadded almost entirely by one student this year, with one other student contributing one or two of the smaller susbsytems. It’s entirely possible to work with a small CAD team so as long as there is good communication between the members and the CAD person gets ample time to work on CAD (and isn’t sent to work on non-CAD things when there’s still work to do). This coming year we have a few more trained CAD people that I hope can divide work amongst themselves.
Typically if you get the drivetrain design done quickly, CAD can work a little slower while it gets manufactured. Also, having a less experienced member work on something you won’t need till much later in the season (such as a climber) gives them ample time to finish the design before it gets made.

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In 2017 we CADed with myself and our team captain at the time. We broke it down with him creating the drivetrain like in a day (slight dimension shifts a couple times), and then Collaboration on ideas, along with the entire team for how we want to do things, then my focus on the gear + climbing, and his on the entire fuel side. We did work together and shared work, such as me helping him figure out specific gear ratios and methods for driving things (belts, chain, etc.) and him helping me with just general ideas and concepts.

In 2018, I did 95% of the CAD myself. The parts I didnt do were usually small things such as taking a Vex pulley and convert it to make it suitable for 3D printing, or something simple like creating a custom hex hub for like a roller. It wasnt easy but it was do able. I’m working with a couple members right now to get them up to speed with CAD to hopefully take some load off myself this season but really, one person could CAD an entire robot.

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How is the work split up? Is it just between mechanisms and having them be ‘modules’ that connect to each other, or is it where one person will do the design and others will flush out the features?

I’ll echo what Anand said about drivetrains:

My team has the CAD for the drivetrain done by day 2 because we do the majority of the work beforehand, just changing sizing, which can be as simple as changing 2 dimensions.

Last year we had 2 people CAD the whole robot, one did the elevator, arm, and electronics and the other did the intake, clamp, and wing. Communication is key.

I have also considered splitting the job of design and CAD, so you have people that make the parts important to the design that know how to and the design gets fleshed out (pocketing, bolts, etc.) by people that know CAD but don’t have the design background. I have heard of this working on other teams, but have not tried it myself.

The CAD team should also work with the people doing prototyping and in mechanical in general to brainstorm and get feedback (do frequent risk analysis / design reviews). With prototyping, there are mechanisms that don’t need to be prototyped on which CAD can begin immediately (elevators in 2018) and things that will need to wait, but space will need to be made for (intakes, shooters), which can streamline the process.

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We have 1-3 students CADing for each subsystem (about 12 students last year) and normally a couple students that can just help out where ever when needed for little things.

I’m mostly in charge of keeping the main assembly right and leading a subsystem each year most of the time.

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Our most experienced mentors and students would focus primarily on consistency of overall system geometry and keeping track of all the tiny details which need to be taken care of, while doing very little actual modeling themselves. Have your most experienced people working 2d geometric layout sketches and checklists of “Need holes in this part so we can stick an allen wrench through to reach that part” type things, such that they have a vision of what needs done which runs and evolves faster than they can actually individually model, and have them delegate most of the actual CAD work to less experienced students. Many times they’ll start out in a role of “part feeders,” making simple parts with pretty explicit instructions for all dimensions with little context for why the choices are being made the way they are, but being immersed in the process and seeing the assemblies come together will rapidly increase their understanding, allow them to make more choices independently, moving from “make this gusset I’ve drawn with dimensions on a notecard, exactly” to “We need a way to connect this part to that part, figure something out” often in a matter of days. We had no formal assignments as such but the leadership would naturally split up by subsystem to at least some degree in terms of working with the same students on that subsystem, so that they got to see something go from start to completion, and had a point of consistent mentorship. At the highest levels the process was pretty unified though – splitting things from top to bottom by subsystem tends to lead to real estate squabbles and miscommunication.

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last year we only had 3 design members so where always hectic for us but this is how the works load fell
me and the lead did the drivetrain me and the other design member did the electrical board our lead did the intake the other design member did the lift gearbox and i did the climber and lift (3 times)

the best advice i can give you for small design team size is make deadlines that you think are reasonable then give yourself less time and do what ever you can to meet these deadlines wether it be extra meetings or cad at home if you can9this is what we did in 2018 and it seemed to work pretty well). and i second what asid said about getting you drive train done fast
its really easy to do drivetrains and its nice to be able to start fab week 1
this is assuming all of your people have the exact same skill if this isn’t the case then the work load inevitably falls to one person who ends up doing a brunt of the work

other then that we usually assign 1 person per mechanism but because we lost another person but gained 2 new members its more falling to 1 person doing 1 mechanism while I take up the slack with the rest of the 95% of the robot and have newbies stare into my soul while i CAD that or the fab team breathing down my neck if the newbies are making gussets or something the lesson here is to try to at least keep a consistent size if not a large one

TLDR: get drivetrain done fast, make aggressive deadlines and keep subteam size consistent if not large

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Like many of the people posting above, I am one of those CADers that ends up doing most of the work.

Working with only 4 designers is going to be hard, make no mistake. My first priority would be to communicate to the other 3 the level of commitment required. You need to know where everyone will stand when the rubber hits the road.

With only 4 designers, spending time efficiently is absolutely key. Number 1: Know your limits and only set out to model are relatively simple robot. Number 2: most engineers (myself included) take too much pride in their work and end up putting too much emphasis on cleanliness and aesthetics. Don’t hesitate to go with “quick and dirty” solutions to problems. Use COTS wherever they can save you time.

For organization during build season, I recommend finishing the drivetrain early and splitting into 2 groups of 2 people to design a total of 2 mechanisms. Most years typically involve 3 mechanisms; 2 primary and 1 secondary (e.g. Elevator and intake + climber as a secondary). You’re probably not going to have time for a secondary, but if you’re a head of schedule, good luck. Regardless, Iterate each mechanism separately until they reach a satisfactory point, then combine them into a master assembly and iterate the robot as a whole.

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