Solo Team - Right or Wrong?


If something or someone was keeping you from doing your best, should you avoid that thing or someone and do your best on your own? or should you try to make it work so you both do your best together?

I’m asking because I’m considering starting a solo robotics team. I’ve proven to myself that I am capable of programming, designing, and building by myself.

The questions that remain (that I think it’s the only thing that remains) are, is it wrong to start a solo team to avoid working with your own school’s team? and how do you get grants to start your own team?

The reason I want to start a solo team is because, I don’t like the way our current team is being handled. I have to have everything I do approved by a “superior”. The team is inexperienced but, I have no problem that. I do, however, have a problem with a team that is inexperienced and overconfident.

I know it may seem like I’m doing the same thing. I just joined last year and I’m already asking to do things on my own but, I can assure you I have proven myself in the last competition. It may have been luck or skill but, I’d still like to know your opinions on whether this is right or wrong.

Thank you.

If you strongly think your team is holding you back, by all means do.

If your team is really that bad of a hindrance than do so. But there are two things you should consider. if you are considering starting your own team, you will have no help from teammates. also, if you are breaking away from your school’s team, you will need to come up with the money for parts all by yourself. unless you have some sponsors already willing to give, I would not jump right into it all by yourself. I personally am swayed towards having at least 2-4 people per team, but this is not my decision to make.

Something to mull over: Sometimes creating and/or operating a robot isn’t the most important learning experience VRC offers.

When you have a job in the “real world”, it is almost impossible to break away and do your own thing. You have to learn to work with difficult people. Who knows, you might learn something from working with them. It seems that you have a problem with reporting to a “superior” for everything. Have you considered why this person is your “superior”? When running a team, a certain level of bureaucracy is needed. If this is too difficult to deal with, then you can certainly form your own team. But remember, VEX is not cheap, and getting sponsors is no easy task.

Magicode is absolutely correct about working with others in the real world. Additionally, you might be making your task at the field even harder without a team-mate. Our coach never stops talking to the driver during a match, scanning the field and plotting the next move. Good luck on whatever decision you make.

Do you have the finances to fund your own team? If not, your only option is to work with your current team in the best way you can. There is great value in the give-and-take of being on a team.

But I understand the desire to take your ideas to completion without interruption. If you have your own kit, you can learn and build your own robot at home. If you have the resources for this, it may not be a bad idea. The more you learn, the more you’ll have to share with others.

If you’re successful, but still want to be part of a bigger team, I would consider asking your mentor if you can be a “splinter team” from the main team. Show the mentor your successful robot and explain that while you have the technical skills to operate on your own, you realize that you can still benefit from the ideas of others. Realize that if others are “behind” you, they may need time to try (and fail) with their own ideas, for their own learning.

Nothing succeeds like success, and if you complete a robot that works well, chances are that some others from your team may want to join you in your efforts. If you’re ahead of them, realize that part of your responsibility as a team member is to bring up their skill level, and that can be as rewarding as building a good robot.

P.S. I fully understand the dilemma of people who know little but think they know a lot. The proof is in the pudding, and if someone is insistent on an idea, I give them a few spare parts and ask them, “Could you build me a working prototype so I can see how it works?” I require the same standard of myself, and when I want to demonstrate a concept to students, I build a simple prototype to show that the idea is practical.

I just want to point out Josh (Titan) did it alone and look what he did it was amazing and blew us all away

It’s really whatever you want to do. But working with others is much butter than doing it solo. See we left our school,but we still help them. We only have 3 people on ours.

What aspects of a team makes it better than doing it solo?

Josh Wade also had many sponsors to provide most finances for his team. Josh also had his sister help him out at competitions (At least at World’s). She did some coaching and other tasks as well, but yes he did do all of it himself. However, what he did took a lot of time, effort, concentration, and perseverance.

Amen to the posts above, especially magicode and ManicMechanic; very good!

While there is nothing inherently wrong with having a single person team (just like Josh Wade), the question you have to ask yourself is, “What are my motives?” It seems that you do have good intentions, like wanting to do your very best, and taking that as far as you can go; but if a bigger part of wanting to break apart from your team is because you are having trouble getting along with other team members / coaches, you may want to reconsider. Even if you do decide to start your own team, I would urge you to get reconciled with the people you may have a tough time relating too, and stay friends with them. It’s tough, and I’ve been in some situations within robotics that got heated, feelings were hurt, and people took sides. But the main thing to remember is that everyone makes mistakes, and we all need to show others the same grace that we’d like to be shown. Sometimes saying “Ok, let’s try that” or “I see what you’re saying” is enough to diffuse an otherwise stressful situation. Remember that you are discussing and figuring out which idea is best, not which person is. Believe you me, I know it can be really hard to not take things personally :-), but if you really try to work at it, you can become a better person, and that trait will help you not only in robotics, but also in all of life.

The founding members of 1492 were first part of their school’s team during the Clean Sweep season, but broke off for the Round-Up season due to reasons similar to the OP’s. However, since we were originally a group of 5 who all left together, I guess it wasn’t exactly a solo move.

To answer your question- If you know what you’re getting yourself into and you’re alright with that, then do it. This includes what most people have said including time commitments, monetary needs, etc. If you’re not alright with it, then your best bet would be to raise to a position on your current team and try to implement changes the best you can. That’s my 2 cents anyways.

You can’t just drive the decision based on personal feelings. Also, you shouldn’t be so overconfident so as to believe you can run an entire team. Yes, Josh Wade was able to build his own robot but a coach is always essential. I would find it very hard to examine a field and drive a robot at the same time, not to mention robots that require two drivers.

On your own, you might be able to build a solid robot, but you can’t run the entire work of a VRC team.