My vex team has over 20 people and I would like to know a good way to keep my team in order and not have people doing nothing.
Organize the team by talent: design (including using CAD), documentation (engineering notebook), mechanical build, programming, planning (such as maintaining a Gantt chart), online-challenge, marketing and publicity (like making videos and maintaining Facebook and web pages), business management (maintaining the business plan, keeping the budget, finding sponsors)…I’m sure there are other areas too, and there is cross-training/overlap that will go on as well.
If you start a 2nd team, you would have fewer team members sitting around idle.
Unfortunately, that solution involves more $ but is one way to overcome the challenge you’re looking at.
I can’t imagine having 20 people on one team. Even with the things suggested by kmmohn above, it will be difficult to have enough for all 20 do find enough to keep them occupied. And many of the things suggested are things you might find no one wants to do, they want to build robots. To me the ideal team size is no more than 5. I would really look into finding a way to raise funds and add teams.
I have a hard time keeping 8 people busy… Wow… Make sure to separate them into smaller teams and make assistant captains of those teams. Make sure to figure out tensions between members and either resolve them or separate them quickly. It is sometimes easy for those tensions to blow up when you need peace the most and those tensions can hide in a large group. It might be helpful to have a team on prototyping and a team on building the robot in addition to the list below
Build 5 robots. 4 SPR (students per robot) is a good number.
As we grew a little we split into 2 teams. I felt bad when we had more than 2 per team. But we have ended up with 3 to 4 per team when we want a notebook focused on as well.
1 man team all the way?!
We do no more that 5 people per team to maximize the impact per person. Three person per robot is the absolute optimal for hands on the robot but other items get short shifted. 4 is a good blend but cost can be an issue then.
I second @536Mentor more robots equals more fun! You can scrimmage each other as well.
Idle hands equals non-interest and they don’t get the most out of the experience. Having the pressure to change a motor in between elimination matches, do the judges interview, and have everyone come up with ideas on how to improve your bot goes a long way. Much more than being the CAD guy who does a lot up front or the programming guy who does not do much until the robot is built.
More robots=more fun until the other teams start copying you, then denying that they did
It becomes a problem when a robot copies your design exactly, and you both have notebooks, both have CAD, but they win the design award from copying your robot
If you have the accessibility to have multiple teams, I would split the 20 up into their own teams.
If not, I would try to separate them into their own groups on the team based on their talents…
Say Jimmy, Johnny, and Jacky are all really good at Programming - put them in a group and they can all work on programming…
And repeat the process for Designing, Sponsors, Video, CAD, Building, etc.
Put them in different groups each practice. Rotate people to different jobs and write in your notebook who went to what job. You’ll be able to look back a page and the judges will be able to see your solution to keeping your team in order. Also, you’ll be able to keep track of who works well together, who messes around, people who tend to fight then make up, who doesn’t get along well, etc. That way, you may be able to get higher points for your notebook, and keep thing in order.
I’m happy to have a 3-person team. It would be nice to have a media team, however!
We split into 2 teams and sorted them by talent. Our B team is the less experienced and less capable team and the A team is the more experienced, team who can build quicker and has the knowledge.
With 20 People I would make 4 teams of 5 or 5 teams of 4. It will cost more but the most cost effective way is to get each team to fundraise independently from each other.
Even if you have 5 teams, there will be people of different skill levels. There will be people who are lazy. There will probably be people who do not put in as much work as the rest of the team, not necessarily because they are lazy, but because they do not yet have enough experience yet to operate at the same capacity as the seasoned members of your team (Although you may still get lazy people). That’s just the way large robotics teams are.
I’d like to introduce you to my little friend, the side project. A side project can be anything, whether it be a robot with tank drives or a robot that functions entirely on pneumatics. Sometimes, the best way to let your members gain experience is to set them free from limitations and let them do whatever they want. My team has had team captains that started off building a crossbow while no one else noticed.
If there is any way to cut down on number of people per team, do it. Last year we had only 4 people on the team, and towards the end of the season, even that was to much. This year we are down to 3, which seems to be the right number.
While I agree with other posters that 20 people on a single team might be too much, I think strong team dynamic can still be established as long as you keep robotics “fresh.” Everybody has their own set of skills, but often times having somebody start working on something new that they’re not familiar with, especially outside of stressful competitions, can be the best way to uncover hidden talent and maximize on team potential.
For example, if you note that your programmer isn’t doing much (though, as @jpearman said, there’s always something that can be done), ask them to research Autodesk and have them mess around with that for a while. Keeping things new and interesting can ensure that more members are dedicated to the team, while also ensuring that robotics stays a fun activity instead of a demanding obligation.
A short term solution is to create groups that each prototype a different idea for starstruck