How to teach new competitors build techniques?

So in our organization there is a large gap in knowledge/experience between the worst team(s) and the best team(s). I believe this is mostly due to the newer teams not wanting to spend the time to look up the plethora of resources our organization has presented them with despite these teams also wanting to be competitive.

I think we(my team) can agree that I am the best builder in our organization, and I think we(the forums) can say that I am knowledgeable about most of the building techniques in vex. Because of this, I have the responsibility of teaching the teams under me of these many techniques known to me, but I have no idea how to go about it.

Most build techniques are hard to pinpoint, and you wont even notice it is a “technique” per say until you notice someone not doing it. It is also very difficult to compile all of this information and to make sure you present a comprehensive “list” of all of these techniques.

Finally I do currently try to help them. If they have any questions or problems I am happy to help them, but they dont get the key things that make competitive teams build in certain ways. So I ask you forums, how can I help my fellow teams to all rise to our team’s level?

7 Likes

I’m in a similar position, but for the programming aspects of competitive teams.

They won’t get far if they can’t use their initiative to find information that they need within provided documentation and resources as well as what’s available online. I think that you’d agree that the skill to infer techniques and gather ideas from sources outside of in-person demonstrations is vital to getting competitive teams to a high standard.

Have you tried a workshop-esque brainstorming session? Perhaps you could make yourself available for a session/meeting and run through some previous designs both from your organisation and online with them to see if that will give them some inspiration. Let them practice some of the techniques they’ve found before applying them to their robot. It’s relatively broad advice and I’m not sure if it would work for you given your situation, but I’ve done similar activities with programming and people have gradually gotten better over time.

It’s great that you’re eager to help the newbies; being a good mentor is invaluable to those getting started, but make sure you aren’t detracting too much of your attention away from your team too.

5 Likes

The same way someone learns music, maestro. You teach them finger position + technique, how to read the music, rudimentary songs they are familiar with, and then move up from there.

Teach them to build good basics. Chosing screw length, using bearings, where to put collars, making a rigid h frame chassis, wiring, sandwiching/cantilevering shafts, Struts and 3-4-5- triangles, rubber bands. Basically make with them a beefy basic bot of your design, where you have all of your underlings fabricate their own copy of a subcomponent, like a screw shaft, properly spaced axle, or lift tower support triangle.

Then teach them the process of identifying a problem you need to solve specifically, and how you research and plan your solutions.

Teach them how to replicate things they see in pictures by building something and having them copy it. Then move up to photographs or sketches and have them try to assemble that.

You do not start learning music by writing it. You learn how to play a song, then how they are structured. Then you can begin improvising over familiar context, and then you can try writing from scratch.

6 Likes

I made a YouTube video about build quality and build techniques. I definitely cannot list every nook and cranny of building a robot as it’s up to the builder to create their own styles, but the gist is there on the YouTube video. Yes, the video may be a bit cringe but to be honest there really is no other way to go along with doing it. It’s straightforward and to-the-point, which is all that matters.

2 Likes

On Team Virus, we have three dedicated V5 clawbot trainers, and every newcomer (and IQ student coming up), goes through a building/training program before starting on a competitive team. I’d share our basic curriculum we use, but it was based on VCS and I need to update it.

4 Likes

The best thing you can do is make them learn by doing, have them build robots, and then point out places to improve, repeat, repeat, repeat. Everybody’s going to develop their own techniques and build style, but there’s a few general points that you’ll still have to point out and teach them.

2 Likes

We’ve added some engineering articles to the Knowledge Base. Here is a direct link: https://help.vex.com/category/369-engineering

Hopefully they can be used to bridge the knowledge gap among some of the team members.

We’ll continue to add articles over the upcoming weeks and months.

10 Likes

Do they watch YouTube? That’s a good source.

Having them get on the forums and study other robots. And going to competitions just to watch and ask other teams questions.

1 Like

So on the two most recent posts I will say this: I have tried to encourage them to visit these resources, I have started getting in the habit of asking certain teams “have you seen any reveal videos” and usually the answer is no. I provide the links on a “classroom” the whole robotics team has access to and a playlist of the TT reveals so far and a link to the 5225A google photos album and their code from the ITZ season all in hopes to let them teach themselves. The only problem is they aren’t.

So I am trying a get a solution for a much more direct way of teaching, and I want to find a way to be able to effectively share my knowledge with the teams in the amount of free time I might have in the practices.

2 Likes

+10000000000000000000000000

1 Like

to expand on what Gameoa is saying, I am the mentor of the other teams (mostly building/ strategy related stuff) and we have a majority of the teams who are trying to build things properly, but either choose not to pay attention the multiple examples we give out or just don’t understand, and we have a few who want to be competitive but choose to not exercise any well known building techniques. the issue we have is to try to get them to understand these, and figure out how to apply them, rather than me coming around and telling them that a screw joint is better on their tipper, or something along those lines.

4 Likes

@Freshscott I taught my students how to make screw shafts and they were instantly inflicted with man-with-a-hammer-syndrome. (Everything needed to be solved by cantilevered screw-shafts.) I do not need to make the recommendation on when to use it. I had every single student build a joint between two c channels, as well as a gear mounted to support on a screw shaft .

Yesterday I lost my voice and was working with the freshmen team. They were very attentive when I would take apart their work because they improperly collared, and then quietly would say one sentence about it, and then let them correct it and talk about it, like “two collars sandwiched on the inside back each other up.”

For my robotics class, which is moderate to low investment, I typed up a sheet of simple questions, like “Do you have your chassis rails connected by more than one piece of support? Do you have two bearings on every shaft? Did you use 3-4-5 support triangles to make sure your chassis is squared up?”

4 Likes

Wait chassis triangles? What’s that?

It is really easy to make your chassis some kind of parallelogram/trapezoid instead of a rectangle. This means that your robot will not drive perfectly straight and your geometry may be off when adding additional components and systems.

To prevent the chassis from winding up skew, you can cut a flat 1hx6h piece of metal to act as the hypotenuse of a right triangle. From where the chassis and cross-chassis bars meet, count 3 holes down one rail, and 4 holes down the other rail. You can then make a right triangle using the flat 1x6 bar. I know a picture would be easier, so try this out.
image

5 Likes

Oh that’s what it is! I got the special gussets for 90 degrees so I’ll use those instead.

would also be a good reccomendation to have them align holed properly. Go in autodesk inventor and use the mate flush command to align some parts. this will keep stuff straight. Dont have a picture now but hope that helped

Those articles are great! We’ve been having our v5 competitors read the Knowledge Base to research their questions. Anytime they come to me for a questions, I first check to see if there’s an article that covers it. It’s been a huge help.

Thank for the work on those!

2 Likes

Great to hear. If you have suggestions for future articles, please let us know.

2 Likes

@jmckenna If it isn’t already being worked on a joints article that talks about screw joints, their benefits, and where they should be used would be a great addition. This is a great resource that should help many new teams.

1 Like