Imagine you are building a PERFECT team from scratch. You want to craft the ideal team distribution within various subteams of an organization of maximal efficiency: one where everybody works together, motivation is dominant, and everybody can find and is on task.
Nothing is perfect, all situations are different; nevertheless, this poll would help answer the curiosity I had.
- Robot Programming: (0-5)
- Robot Programming: (5-10)
- Robot Programming: (10-15)
- Robot Programming: (15-20)
- Robot Programming: (20+)
- Design/Fab: (0-5)
- Design/Fab: (5-10)
- Design/Fab: (10-15)
- Design/Fab: (15-20)
- Design/Fab: (20-25)
- Design/Fab: (25-30)
- Design/Fab: (30+)
- Electrical: (0-5)
- Electrical: (5-10)
- Electrical: (10+)
- Media/Business/Outreach/Impact: (0-5)
- Media/Business/Outreach/Impact: (5-10)
- Media/Business/Outreach/Impact: (10-15)
- Media/Business/Outreach/Impact: (15+)
- Other Programming i.e. scouting app/website: (0-2)
- Other Programming i.e. scouting app/website: (2-4)
- Other Programming i.e. scouting app/website: (4+)
I think the other interesting thing to consider with this is whether you have some variety of feeder team as well. Your ideal composition is probably higher if there isn’t.
Question that may affect results:
How many students are we assuming the team has? If there’s only 5 students, for example, that’s going to severely affect things vs a team with 50.
My assumption is that you also control the overall size of your ideal team.
How skilled are these students? Goes on CD/other first stuff almost every day vs. Average level of participation? I assume completely motivated means the former? In which case 20 CAD students to fully flesh out 3 different bot archetypes would be crazy good
Having been on a team with both a large technical and non technical side, I think that non technical stuff takes a lot more people, especially media. We can have productions that take 10 people to shoot, and outreaches and impact take a shocking amount of people.
As someone on the technical side of a small team, I feel similarly. I could have done all of the mech stuff with 5 other me’s, but after trying to dabble in marketing, outreach, etc. I was generally left feeling that you couldn’t get enough people on that side.
You’re correct, I was referring to the type of student motivated enough to consider FRC as one of their major time commitments as a high schooler (not THE most but one of them).
20 programmers and force them to learn everything else
Ok so that’s more “average” level I guess. like comes to meetings 9 hours a week?
Every team member is on the Media/Business/Outreach/Impact team.
To be honest, if most students are decently motivated but not like super dedicated, I think having a smaller team on the robot side (I can’t speak for outreach/business since I don’t know the dynamics behind it) would be better. This might sound counterintuitive because a larger team means more people able to do work, but if the team doesn’t cut out enough work for all of the students, I see them potentially losing interest since they don’t know what to do, and may not have the dedication to cut out more work for themselves (for the team to get more work done overall).
What are you trying to accomplish with this team? If it’s an adequate robot, then this is about a 5-person project if the participants are qualified. Are you trying to influence the most students, then the more the merrier limited by the support resources such as facilities, budget, number and quality of the mentors with their ability to keep students occupied.
Imo you can work at nearly the same caliber with above 20 members and at least 1 heavily commited member per subteam, however your biggest issue is enough mentors to train all the people, for example my team has 6 people on “systems” (electrical and programming) and 1 mentor so he obviously cant help everyone to his fullest, and hes an amazing mentor with a bunch of experience, so imagine what that does with new mentors.
Roughly 3:1 student to mentor ratio is likely ideal. Twenty top notch students would do just as good a job as more, but you have to have their replacements training in at the same time. What teams of 100 do I have no idea.
It’s hard to say what the perfect team composition is without defining the goals of the team first.
One very valid goal may be to expose/involve as many students as possible, which means your split is going to depend on how many students you can get to sign up.
Another goal may be to win Chairman’s, in which case you might skew the team away from the technical side, focusing more on outreach/marketing activities, which impacts how many people you have in each group.
Another goal may be to win a competition. In that case, you may skew the team more towards the technical side and away from outreach/marketing activities. That’ll impact how many people you have in each group.
You also have to consider the skills of the mentor’s you’ve recruited. For programming, for example, having more mentors with a variety of programming experience could lead to being able to support a larger group that does more stuff. It’s easy to say you can program a robot with a couple of students and be done - it’s something entirely different to say you want to put more students into working on advanced image recognition, or how to utilize a secondary processor, or more advanced automation within the robot. You don’t just need the kids for it, you also need some mentor(s) to help guide and support them!
I voted with the general assumption that this is the right number of students for each subteam if those students are a mix of about 2/3 returning leaders and strong independent contributors, 1/3 newbies who are inexperienced but enthusiastic and dedicated, and each subteam has a mentor who’s with them at least half the time they’re meeting. I also imagined the type of robot my teams have typically built: drivetrain+2 main subsystems, decent auton, lots of custom machining.
5 programmers feels about right; it’s enough to get stuff done + spend time helping each other & pair programming, and the limiting factor on our robot’s performance RE software and controls is usually time with the robot, not number of programmers.
With 10-15 design/fab students, you can have 5 dedicated machinists, and 2-3 designers per subsystem (one leader and 1-2 less experienced worker bees).
2-3 electrical students feels about right. We’ve gotten by with one before, but it’s better to have at least one person they’re training as well. More than that, I don’t think they’d have much to do; as it is we tend to encourage our electrical teams to cross-train so they’re not sitting around waiting all season. With a dedicated electrical mentor who’s working with them all the time, you can do custom boards & other sophisticated stuff that might be able to engage 4-5 students.
Media/Business/Outreach: Similar to electrical, I like to have a captain for media, a captain for business, and a captain for outreach, and ideally for each of them to have at least one person they’re training or collaborating closely with. Beyond that, each of these tends to be a subteam people cross-train for - i.e., students on the robot subteams will also come to outreach events, help write 1 grant, take pictures for the website to send to the captain, etc without spending all or even most of their effort there. If you really value these subteams and have dedicated mentors, you could probably productively engage a few more students full-time.
Other programming - I’ve never been with a team that made scouting or website their own thing, they typically fold in with media or become someone’s pet project.
I of course have bias as as team who’s blue banners all come from Impact/chairmans, but I think that having non technical members who just do that, and not robot stuff is a lot better, at least for my team. But I agree that the awards/outreach/ business side of things is a lot smaller, but media scales really well in my experience, and we can leverage that larger media team for a lot more coverage at events, and have a larger editing team. However we do have a lot of the same people doing awards outreach and advocacy.
Far more important than the exact team composition is the presence of snacks (and associated infrastructure).