When to split the team

Our team just started meeting this week, and were immediatly greeted by the news that we have picked up a second sponsor, which will give us ~$8000 (previously, our sponsor only covered registration and 1 regional) This news was immediatly taken by our mentors to mean, “great, we can have a second FRC team!” We were already signifigantly underfunded and low on membership last year (~6 regular members) This year, 21 students signed up, five of which were girls. The belief is that we can now have an all girls team, plus a co-ed team. Do you think this is a good idea? Personally, I think we were (are?) low on rescources to begin with, and splitting the team would make this worse, seeing as a second entry fee to pay will bring us down to about ~$2000 to pay for the expenses of two robots and two teams, but I would like some feedback from other teams, especially teams that have been growing in recent years.

Edit: One of the philosophies behind this is “We have two sponsors, therefore we need two teams” We spent about $150 on the robot last year, but they don’t seem to fully relize that this is unusually low.

Personally, I’d make a list of all of the options for the extra funds and decide as a team which one you think would make the biggest impact on the students. Yes, one option is registering a second team. Would that be more effective than enabling the first team to go to a second regional? That’s for your team to decide. If your team is dead set on having the females take on some lead roles you could always have the males run one event and the females the other. Other potential options include investing in machines and tools to help build the robot, training materials (such as a VEX kit), or saving some money to build a practice field.

My initial reaction is that running two simultaneous teams is a lot of work (my team worked with two others last season) and should be well thought out before making a commitment, however the are certainly groups of teams that excel at co-building and prefer that environment. One thing to be wary of with registering a second team is what happens if many of the new members drop out before build season. Even if you have enough to register another team, the time and effort it takes to build a second robot (even one of the same design if you were to choose to do that) is easily underestimated.

Good luck in decision making!


I don’t know if I fully understand this, so if I completely have missed the boat, I apologize in advance!

It sounds to me that your team thinks it should have two separate FRC teams now because you have another sponsor and more people joining the team.

If this is the case, my opinion is that you should maintain the one-team status. While starting another FRC would be fantastic, I think it is in the best interest of your team to stay together, at least for this year, until you get more funding and more people joining. Twenty-one students on a team is not going to cause too much pandemonium, as some teams have 40+ students. This would help the team pay for both the robot and competitions. If, by next year, the team has more sponsors and even more students joining, then by all means, go for making a new FRC team! FIRST is all about that. But your team should do what is in the best interest of the students.

I wish your team all the best with whatever you decide to do. Good luck! :slight_smile:

Most teams in this position would take the money to help:

  1. add more features and components to your robot design
  2. attend a second regional
    or attend Championships
  3. add clothing items and cool handouts
  4. stockpile $$ for a rainy day.

We just added a second team last year and that was only because we were busting at the seams with close to 50 members every year. We also have an amazing sponsor who can help us afford it. I’m not to sure how many other schools have 2 teams but there is usually a better reason than because of an extra $8000.

Id personally advise against splitting the team, especially if you just have 21 members. You can expand the effect of your program, by using that funding for 3dsmax, and website. One team, with extra funding can go a long way, purchase computers, buy tools, or try a second regional, having 2 teams with just bare minimum funds, likely will not have the impact as a small/medium sized team of 20 members, with funding to explore new aspects of engineering, science and technology.

good luck

There are a lot of factors to consider in making this decision and I hope that the whole team gets a chance to participate in this decision making process as Allison suggested.

One thing to look at is the overall long term goals of the team - looking out a few years - Is there a real need in your immediate area for a second team? Would you serve a different group of students? Would the students be served better by a second team? I think most teams would think that 25 students and $14-15000 sponsorship would be wonderful - for one team. But maybe the long term goals suggest being lean for another year as two teams and then building greater support.

Students are one thing - another issue is the number of mentors and teacher support available - If there are a large number of mentors to share between the teams that would make having two teams easier, but if it is only a few and recruiting the mentors would be a great challenge than the second team would be disadvantaged.

Good luck! That is a great dilemma to have!

This is a decision that really needs to be made by your team rather than anyone else. But that decision needs to be a fully educated and discussed one, especially considering the possibility of registering two teams. There are a number of options that should be considered. Obvious choices include spending the money to create two teams, register the existing team for a second event, or spending it on the materials for the robot.
But other solutions do exist, some of which apply to you much more than others. One is spending the money to purchase materials to create a second bot identical to (part or whole of) your competition robot to use for practice, demonstration, and driver training purposes (particularly after you shipped your competition bot). This “practice bot” could even be built by the girls alone, if desired.
Another option would to be to spend the money on tools, equipment, and other attributes that will help the team for years to come. Buy some machinery that you were lacking, or duplicates of the tools that were frequently used (so two people can use them at once). If you use the money in this fashion it will continue to help your team for years to come as you can still use the tools for several years (hopefully).
Buy large quantities of stock material that you use frequently (although given your $150 budget last year, you might not have any of that yet). In other words, buy your stock aluminum, steel, polycarb, pvc, etc. that you use frequently ahead of time so you already have it on hand when you need it. If you have the storage space, you can purchase for several years in advance.
Spend the money on materials/registration for a second competition. You don’t have to solely compete in FRC, you can also participate in Botball, FTC, BEST, or another competition as well.
Buy a trailer to move your robot(s) and other materials in.
Have the team subsidize some of the travel costs from the students. Have the team pay for the lodging and/or transportation costs for any further away events you may opt to goto.
Buy materials, tools, and display options to improve your pit.
These are only some of the many options possible. And some of these would help your situation far more than others, but all of them are possibilities to keep mind as you progress through the years. You could even invest in one option this year, and chose another next year (such as buying tools this year and starting a 2nd team next year).
I would advise you to be careful about starting another team though. Make sure all 21 members are fully committed before looking into that as a serious option. I know it is the case on many teams where tons of students show interest at the beginning of the year, but half or more have vanished by the time build season gets intense. And I highly doubt only a handful of students could support two teams.

Keep your single team. However, get involved in more FIRST things such as the animation and autodesk competitions.

Just to add: starting a “new” team does not necessarily mean the new team will be considered a “rookie”. You would need to clarify with FIRST.

I helped with an all girls team which was created in a school where there was already a co-ed team. I am also a girl. I have a bunch more to say about forming all girls teams than I can fit in this post… so if you have specific questions about it you can always PM or IM me.

Just to briefly give my opinion, I think you should stick with one team. There’s a lot more,as you probably know, that goes into running a team than just the money. 2x the organization, planning, meetings, space… its not easy. There are also details that need to be thought through. For instance, would you build identical robots? Would you just share space? Would there be free exchange of ideas?..Or would the two teams be competing against each other? Would there be a boys vs. girls attitude?

There is also controversies with putting all girls on one team. If the leaders and mentors who decide to do this are male, it may look like you are trying to clear the girls out of the picture even though it probably isn’t the intention. Sort of a “lets give the girls a robot so they don’t screw this one up” mindset. I know that’s not the intention, but it really can happen. From your information you gave about your team last year, it looks like not many if any of the girls were on the team last year. Do they know enough skills yet, or would it be more beneficial to have some experienced students guiding them?

While all-girls team may sound like a great way to get girls involved in engineering, there’s a deeper level to it. Over the past few years I haven’t really established my exact opinion on forming secondary all-girls team in schools. Just make sure to think through the pros and cons as a whole group before you make such a big decision.

To add to the wisdom of Liz and others posting in this thread, take a careful look at why the team is considering a split and if they are for the right reasons or not. However well meaning some reasons may seem or may be, they may not be the right ones when making such a big decision.

Congratulations to the team for acquiring the help and support of a 2nd sponsor. Awesome.

Thanks for all the feedback!

From your information you gave about your team last year, it looks like not many if any of the girls were on the team last year. Do they know enough skills yet, or would it be more beneficial to have some experienced students guiding them?

Not to badmouth girls of FIRST teams, but I have some doubts about this group of girls’ ability to make a robot on their own (four of the five are rookies, and three look like they’ll fall into the “lose interest” category lil lavery mentioned) Talking with other team members, I have come to the conclusion that the primary motivation is not the all girls team, but the size of the team. Fortunatly for our city, all high schools in the area have FRC and FVC teams. Unfortunatly, because there is no need for schools to collaborate on these, most of these teams are quite small, about the size of our team last year. This has caused our mentors to view this as normal, and now that we have so many more members, it would help productivity to split the team. The all girl team is viewed as a side benefit. I’ll definatly bring this thread up at tomorrow’s meeting.

Thanks again

Be careful not to pre-judge those girls (or anyone else) though. Every year there are members I see walk into interest meetings that I think won’t last, then at the end of the year they are among the most attentive, productive, and dedicated members of the team. Before her first meeting a member confessed to her mother that she was afraid that it was all going to be geeks and she wouldn’t fit in or like it. This cheerleader would eventually become team captain, and later said to her mother that “I’m a geek too, and I LOVE it!” Some of the people you fear you will lose may emerge as stars among your team, while some dedicated members may burn out and quit. In other words, don’t count your chickens before they hatch, even if the shell seems broken. :wink:
As for the team size, 21 is a perfectly acceptable number of students, especially given that it is still the beginning of the year and likely you may lose a few members. Some teams have 40, 50, or even more students on a single team (I know one that has enough freshman each year to fill all the volunteer spots at their off-season event :wink: ). You can still find plenty of jobs for all the students, especially if you branch off into other aspects of the competition (as Rohith mentioned), such as CAD, website, and animation. Many teams also have many ancillary groups, such as dedicated finance, outreach, chairman’s, or video teams that focus on supporting the team through activities other than the robot itself (or participate in both the robot and the ancillary task).
There are, however, certain definite benefits to having two competition teams. It definitely creates more work to be spread around, and each individual could gain more of a direct impact on the finished product. In addition it allows for greater exploration of different designs and technologies if each robot is unique. As well as you have twice the people gaining valuable pit and on-field experience at the events.

Also, I would suggest that you proceed carefully. If there really is a serious thought about having two teams at your school (which I would NOT recommend, for a variety of reasons, including those already mentioned), then you should probably check with FIRST before you make any commitments. There were a few instances last year of multiple teams from the same school/institution (typified by the teams building at the same location, sponsored by the same school, sharing designs and team members, etc.). FIRST had prepared a series of rules on how such teams were to be handled, and where/how they would be allowed to compete. The rules were not enforced last year because they were not adequately publicized, and those teams were allowed to slide by. However, FIRST indicated that would not be the case this year. So before the teams register and get locked into a problematic situation, watch for any updates from FIRST that may address multi-team schools (and if we don’t see anything before registration opens - proactively ask FIRST about the issue).


Has your team ever been to Championships? My team had some extra money last year and we used it for our first trip ever. It was definitely worth it.

I’d recommend against splitting the team, as a member of a local Worcester team as well as a DMHS alum.
Running a FIRST team requires a lot of money, and any more will help. Having 2 underfunded teams is less beneficial than having one team that has adequate funding.
$150 dollars (outside of the kit, I’m assuming) is a ridiculously low sum of money to put together a robot. Watching your team compete at BattleCry, I thought that it was a pretty well thought out robot built on the cheap.
If you get rid of the “built on the cheap” part, the team has a high chance of flourishing.
Plus, that extra funding can go towards some really cool team attire, events or outreach.

Hope to see you out there again next year.

I come from a team (Or is it teams) has split into two teams, and it is something that should not be taken lightly. The workload is increased greatly and building more than one robot that needs to be competition ready is a serious challenge. There are times that I think building robot would produce better results, just because we wouldn’t have the headaches of two. The number of problems you will have is instantly doubled, if not more. Think about it like this, you have the same amount of people working as before, but you have to do double the jobs of a single team. It is a lot harder than what you would think it would be. Is it a great way to get more students involved? Yes. Does it dramatically change the FIRST experience? I think, but then again it has been all I have ever known (except my Freshman year). If you want more info on it just PM any questions.

NO. dont do it. 21 members and about 16000 dollars is an average good size and resources for a team. DO NOT SPLIT THE TEAM.


Take this advice:

Save the money. Save the money. Save the money.

You might not realize it now, but that extra cash will go an incredibly long way over the course of the season. Don’t blow it on a second robot.

If you have to, make up new jobs for people, just don’t split it.