What's a small change that improved your team?

As it says in the title. What’s a small change you made in your team that improved it in any way?


Making two separate meetings in the beginning of the year, one for returning members and one for new members/freshmen only. In previous years we combined this meeting but this led to many freshmen becoming intimidated by the older members and then never coming back. This year, when we had these meetings separate, we retained a large number (20-25 or so) of freshmen.


Not wanting to do everything, basically keeping the robot simple and easy to repair it helped us go from not even qualifying for state last year to going to worlds and getting picked by alliance 1 on curie this year


Yes, we learned this lesson after trying to build a mediocre “everything bot” in 2017…


Running mock kickoffs before the season starts. Student leaders learn how to lead and rookies get all of the “put a flamethrower on the robot” suggestions out of their system while learning the process.


Yea we decided that we should try and be really good at one or 2 things at that is it, those 2 things were cargo ship and level 1 rocket and level 3 and it worked great for us

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CADing everything. We greatly streamlined assembly by having the exact parts on hand and eliminating unseen interference. Mechanism assembly was almost like a lego set: find the manufactured part, find the McM part numbers, put them on a table, and build.

We were far ahead of our normal schedule (despite a late week 1 redesign) as necessitated by a week 1 regional.


Getting awards started and mostly finished during the off-season so our awards people can work on other things during build season, like working on the robot etc.

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Planning. This year, we took the time to make everything in CAD, and plan how we were going to do it before it was done. This resulted in a much better looking, and functioning, robot compared to our previous years.

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We split the mechanical and electrical teams into an A Team and B Team for build season (A Team on Mondays & Wednesdays; B Team on Tuesdays & Thursdays; everyone on Saturdays). It reduced member absenteeism due to homework/test preparation. It also helped keep members engaged - only so many hands can be on a robot at one time.


For our design, I think it was the conversation over “wants” and “needs”. For example, we “want” to manipulate both game pieces but we “need” to manipulate hatch panels . It didn’t mean that we were wrong at times, especially when it came to climbing, but it helped to set a good focus for the season


Banning video games
(on 865 specifically)


Considering drive practice a robot function when prioritizing. Led to a design that was easier to build and fix, so that we got more practice with it.


KISS always. Imo it’s the greatest advice you could give 90% of teams.


Kickoff day is ALL strategy and scoring analysis (after reading the manual).


Two small things with BIG impacts:

  1. we made it a priority for the Drive Team to Practice, Practice and Practice even more. Once we had settled on a Drivetrain configuration, we built a first Practice drivetrain and a partial practice field which the pilot and co-pilot started abusing in the 3rd week. Prior to that, we had used the Automation Direct VR Field and Autodesk Synthesis simulator to familiarize the entire team with the Deep Space field and develop our game strategy;
  2. we spent week 1 truly understanding the game manual and putting together a game strategy and ensuing robot design priorities. In past years, the team had completely missed on the criticality of Ranking Points during Qualifications. We did not make that mistake for Deep Space.
    Those two small changes, IMHO, contributed heavily towards the team winning the Festival de robotique de Montreal Regional, finishing Finalist at the Festival de robotique de Quebec City Regional and making it to Detroit Champs for the first time in the team’s history, where the team went as far as Semi-Finals in the Tesla Division.

Using post-its for brainstorming, specifically during week 1 when aligning on strategic priorities and mechanisms to prototype. It helped to visualize what ideas were common within the group and lets you arrange ideas quickly by moving them around a board as you discuss. It also helps to draw out ideas from those who might otherwise be too quiet to pitch their thoughts. Tom Wujec gave a keynote speech at my work about the benefits of using images and visualization to help with idea generation and this was one of the highlighted methods that I tried out with our team.

Did you do this during all 6 weeks of build or just towards the end? seem like a cool idea

@Mr.MetalSmith During the first week of kickoff, the entire team meets to brainstorm & prototype. Then we divide the team until the end of build season. We have two mechanical co-leaders…one of their responsibilities is to ensure continuity from team to team (in theory).
It truly helped reduce the number of members standing around and distracting those that are working.

This sounds interesting. Do you have any pictures of this?