What do you need to start a team?

So, I’m doing some research for a project, and I wanted to know what people think is necessary to start a FIRST team. So, what do you need to start a team? What kinds of resources would you need to do this? What could people do to make it easier for new teams to get started? How can other teams help rookies get started?

Getting a sponsor lined up early would help a lot…

First there must be a spark. One thing I’ve seen with rookie teams is to not understand FIRST until they SEE the competition or go through the hell that can be build season. If a someone on the team has seen FIRST before though, or has been part of a team before, this can be conveyed pretty easily. Seeing an offseason or actual competition should be required for rookie teams to give them an idea of what they’re getting into. Starting a rookie team consists of showing off what’s happened previous years in order to trap their imaginations and let it run wild, and prepare them for what shall come. Helping them out by assisting them financially (by lending some students for a fundraiser of theirs or even letting them do a fundraiser at your offseason, for instance) is greatly needed. Though many teams have financial trouble, rookies have no background to use to convince sponsors to pay up. Helping rookie teams by pulling strings or even helping them badger sponsors to near death with requests for money will be a BOON onto that team.

Of course, more generally…

What does any team need other than the determination of a bullet-train, the curiosity of a cat, and a jester’s love of fun for FIRST?
Oh yea, a good pizzaria nearby. Never will I forget the face of the lady who wanted to know why little ol’ me wanted 8 pizzas with every topping imaginable… for the second day in a row.

It really helps to have a contact with a veteren team. I know that I wouldn’t have been able to start 992 without the help and support of people like Wendy Wooten (from 22).

It also required having people with project management skills. Yes, engineers are important, but when you are trying to get a bunch of students to invest a large amount of time (and money) in a program they have probably never heard of, you can’t stand to lose people due to bad management.

But in the long run, you really need is at least one dedicated student with some knowledge of FIRST, a teacher or administrator willing to at least give the illusion of legitimacy, someone who knows what they are doing when it comes to mechanics, and around $7500. There are students who would love to participate at any school, they just don’t know it yet, so if you can be creative and can get them on board, the rest will follow.

Okay… let me rephrase the question: what kind of resources could veterans provide to help new rookies? I guess that’s more the angle I was looking for for my project.

That’s a question that 25 has been asking itself for the past couple of years. So far we’ve succesfully started and mentored 1089 through a successful rookie season for them. Our new project RINOS aims to address this.

If you are attempting to start a new team, find a teacher willing to give up all his free time afterschool, and many hours during, to the project. Find one that’s willing to wrestle with even the most bearucratic adminstration.

You need at least ONE experienced mentor, and of this, at least ONE experienced student. The student can connect to the students on the other team much easier.

You need only ONE person with any technical knowhow. Not a requirement, but it helps.

ONE super dedicated student is required ON the team, not from a mentoring team.

Sponsors COULD be a requirement, but not neccessarily so. Some teams get by with just fundraising. Just make sure the rookie team is well on their way in fundraising and badgering for sponsors.

Make sure the team gets well known early. We had 1089 make their name by doing a fundraiser at our off season, Brunswick Eruption.

The major obstacle of course is the money. It’s never the same situation twice, and always a stickler, even for veterans. This is where the veterans who pull as many strings as possible and use all their contacts up come in handy.

If you’re starting a rookie team though and need help along the way, let us at 25 know. Wayne C and I are the ones to contact.

One thing a team or an alliance could do is to put together a Killer Power Point Presentation that the rookies could tailor and use to show potential sponsors, mentors, engineers, teachers, students, etc. exactly what they’d be getting back for getting into FIRST.

Machine shop! IF there is any way to give access to a machine shop that is great! GOOD place to learn safety, and you can teach those pesky software types how to really take out their aggression. That and like someone said before, some kind of spark to get things moving. Oh and one thing we had none of our rookie year was spare parts! Stuff that you’ve had for 3 years and have 20 others of. EX: joysticks, motors, plastic, wheels…etc.


Check out resources and team contacts we have compiled as part of the rural support network. They should, minimally, give you ideas and provide contacts and resources.



A machine shop is NOT required. All you need is open space for the actual building. I shall once again use the example of 1089, a great team that used an old abandoned bike shop that was turned into a marble cutting shop as their base of construction. Though tools are a neccessary, and the occasional shop tools are a must too but can be in any parent’s basement- drill presses and bansaws of course!

Jeff- check out the 103 resources, they are indeed excellent. If you still need help afterwards contact us as well. FIRST is a lovely community- thousands of people ready to help.

I’ll second that, again using 992 as an example. Our “machine shop” was the sculptiure studio at school, which had a band saw and a drill press. Half the time we couldn’t even get in there, so a large majority of our robot was made with a hand drill and a jig saw as our only power tools.

There was one part on our robot that had to be machined (a small gear box), but one of the mentors on the team (who had access to a shop) did that for us.

What you do need is a place to work, whether that is the school parking lot, someone’s garage, or a janitor’s closet in the back of the gym.

*Originally posted by T967 *
**Machine shop! IF there is any way to give access to a machine shop that is great! **

machine shop, eh?

Take a look at this!

The only thing that’s an absolute necessity is a belief. If you believe in FIRST, its message, its goals, and what it does for the lives of students and adults involved, and the global impact the program has on society, the rest becomes part of your team’s problem solving process.

Refusing to quit and the ability to continually move forward in the face of adversity need to become trademarks of a developing team. Once you build this culture, you begin to attract all kinds of motivated and diversely talented individuals. Other teams throughout the global FIRST community will sense that in you and your team and, you will find, will go out of their way to help you succeed.

well with our team (Gael Force 126) we used our sponsers building to make the robot, Nypro. we used their machine shop when they closed it and we even set up the playing field in the building. that made things a lot easier. we are also a veteran team from 1992 and i think that using Nypro’s machine shop made things easier for our team.
i think having access to one is probably a must

You definately don’t need a machine shop. Yes, it might be nice to have one, but I’ve heard of teams building their robot in garages and warehouses… and we built ours in a teacher’s lounge.

As far as I’m concerned, you need a good mentor and a phone book. After that, it’s all luck of the draw, the economy’s fault, or something that you couldn’t have anyway.

There is an incredibly useful tool on the FIRST website under Team Resources called the Volunteer’s Handbook. It should really be called the “Guide to Solicitation for FIRST” because that is exactly what it is. It is a handbook for anyone who wants to start a team or needs to approach a school principal, college or university or a potential corporate sponsor.

The sections are divided by the target of the solicitation. There is one for school principals with all the arguments to make and what it takes, another for potential corporate sponsors, and another for colleges and universities.

Each guide has 3 basic sections. The first is the list of all the reasons for and benefits of having a team. This should help you when making your pitch by phone or in person. The second section is “What It Takes.” Anyone who is interested will undoubtedly ask what the program will cost them in terms of money and manpower. It is all laid out neatly here. The third section is what to say to overcome the most common objections raised. This should help you address any of the concerns they may raise.

Please note that many of the sections are WORD documents. This was intentional. Use them, change them, delete sections, add sections, do what ever you like to create a handout for a potential sponsor that works for you. There is even a team brochure you can modify to make your own.

Check it out. I think you will find it very helpful.