Our school is looking into building a new space for our team. I’d like to reach out to the Chief Delphi community and get some ideas for what considerations should be included for this space. What has worked for your team, what hasn’t? What would your ideal space look like? What kind of equipment should we plan for? I appreciate all of your feedback.
We are currently bordering on persona non grata in our school’s woodshop. I would also like to have a dedicated space. At this point, I think my ideal (within the confines of our building) would be the drafting lab.
If I could design a room from scratch, it would have the following characteristics:
12 foot ceilings
At least 10 computer workstations
Room for a mill, 2 lathes, 2 drill presses, 2 CNCs
Room for a small practice area (not necessarily the size of an entire field, but enough space to operate robots.
As it turns out, our team is in exactly the same situation - the school is looking to build a new STEM center on campus that will house the robotics team, the physics class, and the Engineering class. It will be really nice to finally be on campus. Our first year was in a garage, our second and third years were renting empty areas (only during the build season) in a building downtown (there was a machine shop we could use on the first floor of the building), and now we’re in the third year of the school’s lease on a rather nice area in that same building (it contains a shop/assembly area, a separate room for programming/PR/group meetings, and a separate, unfinished room for practice).
We’re working with them to create a space divided up as follows:
a typical classroom space, possibly with tables along the walls for computers
an assembly space with standing height tables - some dedicated for robotics, some for the classwork.
two shop areas, one for metal, one for wood
A practice area (which might just be an open carpeted extension of the assembly area) equal to about 1/2 of a field, with a high ceiling (at least 12’, hopefully more)
For a few years now we’ve maintained a “wish list” of equipment that we’ve been gradually obtaining as funds become available. We’re using our current equipment and the wish list to help plan out the size requirements of the shop areas. I believe we’re aiming at somewhere around 3000 sq ft for the entire thing.
Wow, I’m jealous. How did you get your school to do that? We have a great sponsor who lets us build at their shop, but I don’t think anything could be as good as having your own build space at your own school. Assuming you can get good tools, storage space, etc.
You are very fortunate. Our school’s tech ed department, took space away from us. We’re currently using a loft above a small workroom for storage and about 20 square feet at the back of the machine shop, along with our shipping crate. We have no space to store previous year’s robots, so we dismantle them, after using them for demostrations and recruiting. The tech ed department doesn’t promote us, since they have their own bots-iq team. Hence our team amounts to about 10-12 styudents and around 4-8 mentors.
I’ve given this a lot of thought over the years. One thing I’d like to see that the TechnoKats workshop currently doesn’t have is convenient restrooms and handwashing facilities. A bigger coat rack would also be good.
We have separate areas in our shop for different activities, but no actual walls between them. I think this is a good thing, as it keeps various groups from getting isolated. It does become a problem when someone is using a noisy tool while others are trying to hold a meeting, but I believe it’s a good tradeoff.
In our current shop, there are windows between the shop/assembly area and the programming/pr/gathering area. It lets us close the doors when we’re being loud in the shop, but still allows that open feeling between the different working groups.
Our team is getting a new home as well. Currently, we are in an unoccupied jr high school. We have a couple rooms:
-a class room for CAD, programming and business
-a shop with many (7 I think) work tables, band saw, 2 drill presses, chop saw, vertical band saw, lathe, and a counter for tools (power drills, saws zall, dremel, etc.)
-store room for vex, spirit stuff, etc.
-lrc with a high ceiling, and a full practice field.
This, in my mind is ideal. We could deal with a lot less. Not too sure what we are going to do next year when the school opens.
Our team has been through four build spaces in six years, and this one (our new and permanent one) is by far our favorite. Our school district passed a bond issue two years ago that allowed for the wrestling facilities at one of the schools be renovated to robotics spaces for all three high schools. At first we were skeptical about being in a wrestling room, but it has worked out really nicely.
Some of the aspects we like about it:
-It’s small. We aren’t cramped, but everything is nearby and there’s
enough space for machines and division of spaces. It also keeps us from buying
more stuff just to fill it up. When we all meet in one area at once, it starts getting
crowded, which is probably a pretty good size.
-There were no walls. We acquired district surplus shelves as a partition
between shop and office space. We even put down carpet in the office.
-The structure is exposed- no ceilings. This allowed us to run speakers
throughout the shop for music. We also speculated hanging a projector.
-Garage door! Most mobile equipment doesn’t fit through the front door.
-We have space for a 3/4-ish sized field. It isn’t in the same building, but
it’s still available.
Things to request:
-Good electrical. Our entire office/CAD area (8 computers plus laptops
and coffeemakers) is all on one breaker- blown fuses have happened.
-Tall ceilings. As a reference, our Logomotion minibot pole only fits in the
highest part of the shop (sloped ceiling/roof).
-Try to make shop as versatile as possible. While definition of space is good,
make sure you can rearrange shop tables for brief robot testing
-WHITEBOARDS. No matter how many whiteboards are floating around, we will
always run out of drawing space.
Best of luck to you in coming years, I hope you enjoy your new space.
We are currently working out of a portable in the back of the school.
The best thing about it is it is about 3 class room sized rooms joined with a center al hall way for the most part is just ours. [Some of it is used for storage for other stuff].
One room is the main build area, the other is a small test field, and the 3rd is where we store materials.
The main build area has a few computers and benches. And our tools, manual mill [tiny and old], drill presses, table saws, hand tools etc.
The problems we have is the ceiling is really low [less the minibot pole], the floor since it is a portable isn’t very solid, we only have 110v and a lack of good heavy duty machining tools.
Me dream shop would pretty much be a full fledged machine shop. Filled with HAAS CNC/Lathes, Bridgeport Mills, drills, presses, sheel metal sheers/punches and all assorted tools. An lab with computers loaded with Solidworks/MasterCAM. An meeting area with a large table/chairs and a projector, plus lots of white boards. And a place for a full to half sized field, with a high enough ceiling for any game. All in one building with easy access.
You summed up most of what I’d want. I’ll add to that:
Dining/loungish area. (Someplace quiet away from the work)
A small CNC-esque machine for those small precision parts
Papers solidifying the space as yours (no one able to boot you out)
Security system maybe
And for fun, some of those PC controlled nerf projectile turrets mounted on the ceiling to shock laxing people back to work
you guys are amazingly lucky. Our school sponsors us by allowing us use of the metal shop, but our total storage space amounts to a single 6x9 closet with 16 foot ceiling, which we stack to the very top
One of the most important things I can think of is a carpeted area for at least half a practice field, ideally a full one. It’s so easy not to thoroughly test your robot without the right space. We all do what we can with our space, but building is only part of the battle. Testing, breaking, and then rebuilding is incredibly important. We’re trying to make space in our shop right now for half a field.
Our team currently has very little dedicated space. We can use the metals shop, and part of a fabrication area during build season, but those areas need to be cleaned up each day, and any robot parts or tool cannot be stored there. All of our tools, components, the robot itself, batteries, etc. need to get stored in a less than classroom size area each time we leave. Also, we are required to keep a pathway through the area clear for access to two other areas that need to be gotten to through our area. As you can imagine this makes the logistics of building a robot difficult.
If I could change one thing, it would be to have an assembly area where things could be left out, or at least left in one place during a build. If all the parts, tools, and sub assemblies need to be boxed up and stored in a different area, and the area cleaned up after each build session you can easily loose half of your time transporting and setting up parts and tools at the start and end of each build session. In fact parts can get lost or damaged during this process, and it does not do all the tools any good to get wheeled around through the rain twice a day.
If there is any way to have a secured build area where you can keep some partially assembled components out while working on them, that can be a great advantage. Also having the ability to store your tools relatively close to the assembly area can also save a huge amount of time and effort.