I was asking around my team and wanted to put this question out to everyone. What do you wish you would have known you rookie year and/ or what lesson did you learn your rookie year? I am compiling this for fun and also to make a list that might be helpful to future rookie teams. If you learned something, made some mistake, or wish you would have known something, please speak up so future rookies can avoid it!
I for one wish i would have known about MOE’s amazing website for rookies.
FIRST is more than a club. It’s more than building a robot. The sooner you get that, the sooner you you will see it’s benefits.
Possibly the hardest role of a mentor is not teaching, but getting people to learn- getting them involved. If I could have figured out anything, it would have been the benefits of FIRST and how real of a program it really is. Once you’ve figured that out, the learning starts. The ceiling of FIRST is inexistent.
Oh yeah, when machining, ALWAYS stay concentrated. If you’re going to look away for a minute and watch someone/something else, turn the machine off.
Not doing so will more than likely result in scars, blood, and fingernails being ripped off (learned, unfortunately, from experience. I have a very lovely scar on my wrist from a drill press…it makes me look suicidal.)
If you want to be on mechanical (or electrical, or design, or marketing, or programming, etc), GO FOR IT! Don’t let other people try to decide what you want to do. As a rookie–or even an experienced member–feel free to explore all of the aspects of the team. It doesn’t matter if you don’t know how to CAD, or how to use a lathe…if you want to learn, someone will always be willing to show you the ropes.
And…your mentors are your friends. If you’re not sure of something, they probably know the answer to it, and if they don’t, they will point you to someone who does. (I was scared to death of half of my mentors at the beginning of the season, and aren’t anymore)
Just watch, as soon as I have to get off the computer, I’ll think of half a dozen more.
The importance of establishing a drive team. We had more drivers than we could use, so we had to decide who drove at the competition at the cost of getting less practice in for the main drive team (who I still applaud for their efforts).
The importance of reading the rules. We had to change part of our design the Friday before ship (a day off of school thankfully, and the dedicated were all there).
The importance of good mentors / sponsors. In the aforementioned disaster, we managed to get a custom drum for a motor machined by NASA before noon on Friday, as well as a mounting bracket for the motor (we’re forever grateful).
I second that…I found that reading the rulebook came in handy…though I took it to the extreme and read it so much, I had it pretty much memorized by the middle of week two. Because everyone checked with one of the mentors, myself, or the rulebook (in the rare case that they couldn’t find any of us) before adding something to the bot, I can’t remember us ever being told at competitions that we couldn’t use something. Knowing what you can and can’t use is a VERY good thing to know at competitions, because you don’t always have time to check the actual rulebook to verify the legality of a part. If someone knows the rulebook back to front…
Things that are good to know your rookie year:
-Don’t be afraid to ask for help because as a rookie no one expects you to know everything.
-Don’t hide mistakes, because someone’s gonna find out anyways and they really won’t get mad if it’s accidental.
(If you mess up on a part for example, don’t throw your messed up part where the excess stock is cause they’ll find it… trust me. :P)
-Meet a lot of people at Robotics competitions because you’ll get to meet people you can learn a great deal from or just make good friends. (I feel like I’ve met a lot of people, but I always wonder how many more I could have met if I took the time to more in my Freshman year)
-Take as much as you can from the program, try somethign new every year. For example you can say something like, “This year, I’m going to learn how to do Pneumatics”
Seriously, the drive team comment made me think of all the sub-teams that teams should have. Not just mechanical, software, electronics and however teams break it up, but also marketing, fundraising, pit design, button w/e, and things like that. Talk to teams about what will happen at the competitions like handing out buttons, and the importance of safety. How important an efficient cart is, etc.
For me, and the rest of our team that started our rookie year, I would have to say knowing what to expect come build season. Mainly, what in the world could we build in 6 weeks to do this task of stacking tetras? We had practiced with the EDU-Bot the fall prior, but once Kick-off came we all didnt have a clue what to do. Our mentors, who had worked with 233 the year before, decided to have us start by building the kit-bot chassis and go from there since none of us kids could come up with any design ideas. Once we got started building, designs started comming to mind and we were able to make a pretty competitive bot. Having never seen one of these robots made life a whole lot harder.
Jump right in. You may think you’re being a pain in the you know what by constantly asking questions, or standing behind your mentors/experienced team members, observing everything you do, but those are the kids the mentors like most, because they’re the ones who will be running the team 2-3 years later.
As a mentor, it’s hard to reach the students who are quieter and don’t make an effort to be a part of what’s going on–there’s too few of us, and too many students, so naturally the students who put themselves out there and are most willing to learn, and take on new tasks will be the students who get the most attention.
a) Talk to people. I’m not an engineer, machinist, educator, or philosopher, but talking with folks who are will yield you a lot of insight.
b) It goes back to a), but: Get on CD. Find as many relevant pieces of the manual (or old threads) to your question, and ask your question. (There are no stupid questions, just people who have clearly not read the manual.)
c) You have to have someone prototyping a manipulator from the start (as in not the end) of build season, or as soon as you have a general concept. Don’t leave that to the end of build.
d) The drill transmissions will fall apart without warning. (Hey, my rookie year was 2004. I’m entitled. :P)
e) Practice, practice, practice. (Just not around the new computers the school just bought and put on rather rickety tables.)
-put an amp in the spike that controls the compressor
-andymark has hubs
-see if there is a cnc shop in town
-draw every piece of your robot in solidworks
-use high strand silicon wire from banebots
-use these motors with a gearbox (you can actually use these motors): http://banebots.com/c/MOTOR-PLAN
If your team has “optional days” or days where only a mentor and a student or two from the group you work with plans on coming in to work do everything you can to try to get in and work on those days. If you aren’t “invited”, see if another group could use your help; just get your foot in the door because the days where you get one-on-one time with a mentor are the days where you learn more and you get the chance to show what you can do or learn how to do new things, resulting in more responsibilty and more complex and fun jobs you get! The more time, effort, and interest you put in, the more you get out!
Don’t be afraid to ask questions…odds are someone else has the same question as you do!
Branch out and try new things, you will be amazed at what you can accomplish
Build season can be overwhelming, take a break if you need one and don’t get worked up over the little things…find a returning member or mentor to talk to if you are frustrated, confused, or upset.