I’m a firm believer that if you want a successful competition season, you need to be very methodical in planning your first couple days-first two weeks, so how, down to the hour, does your team plan your first couple days, and plan your first couple weeks, to ensure that you have a strong foundation for the season?
Kickoff is everyone meets at our school to watch the live-stream with things to take notes on and something to view the manual on once the code has been released. After the live-stream it is time to read game rules and take notes on what confuses them for about an hour or so. Then small groups are formed with a mentor delegated to each group to lead discussions. There rules are clarified if possible and strategies are identified with which ones everyone would think would be best. For example, last year most identified gears as the safest bet to gaining the most points. For day one we mainly focus on strategy so that way we can move ahead with a unified idea for how we want to go about building our robot.
The next day is a day off for most, with requirements to read the manual and continue marking questions. Leads of the team, sub-teams, drivers, and a few mentors gather to finalize strategy and start thinking about how the robot layout should go, what kinds of subsystems we’ll need, etc. We have those people make the final decisions on robot design just since they have the best say in what we’d need for these things.
The next few days are finalizing design, making sure everyone understands the rules, and getting materials ready. That may mean setting template boards for gluing PVC together, collecting necessary electronics, finding motors, etc. Mock arena is already starting to build the needed elements for games at this point.
We have basic deadlines, like having the electronics done as close to the end of Week 2 and driving by Week 3 or Week 4. Subsystems should be tested and prototyped through Week 1 and finalized and connected to place on the robot separately.
We’ve been working with this on my team the last couple of years along with just the regular schedule of how we plan our meeting times. It’s also difficult with the changing leadership as a lot of the important leadership has changed over the past couple of years.