Last year we had 6 members in our team, and we won both the local Arizona tournaments and went to worlds and won the Tech Create award there. This year everyone thinks we’re hot stuff now and we have 8 new members! We’re trying to figure out how to handle this; we already decided to have two robots but it’s still been growing and we can’t afford a third team. We didn’t want to put all the new members in a team of their own to fend for themselves, so we opted to try a fluid environment where it is basically 10 members working on 2 robots together, with people moving back and forth as necessary. This may not work as well now that we have 14 people around haha. Anyone have any creative ideas on how to keep 14 members busy?
Last year my team had 16 members. There were however people on my team that didn’t want to touch the robot, only do logbook stuff. I would suggest splitting a team of 14 up into 3 groups. One group focuses on the mechanical aspect of the robot, one group focuses on the electrical and software of the robot and one team focuses on the logbook, fundraising, and team spirit. Maybe you even rotate them out throughout the year.
Isn’t the whole point of an engineering journal for it to be made by the people doing the actual engineering and facing the challenges themselves? haha.
What we’ve found is that with more than a few people working on a robot at any given time, be it as programmers or building it, things don’t work. There’s lots of people with nothing to do. We really liked our team size of 6 haha
A logbook just needs to be a record of what has happened. The sketches and stuff can be from the builders, but I prefer other people to do the majority of the writing. Makes it look pretty
What we’ve found as the best way to do it is not merely to take account of what happened but analyze things through our engineering journal. We talk about what problems we faced, and how we might solve them the next meeting, or how we did solve them, what are some other ways to fix them, etc. That’s all best straight from the horse’s mouth rather than through a middleman! We’re trying to show the judges our engineering, not just what we did each day haha
We’ve had this problem as well and especially in a team where everyone wants to be involved and not do busy work/meaningless jobs, the only solution we found was to change from 2 to 3 teams and we had 14 members. We think ideal team size is around 4 and maybe 5 for the couple programming specialists we have.
Its going to be difficult to get 7 people with hands on the robot even with the fluid system you’re talking about as we run a similar system. You probably want to look into getting grants/sponsors and other fundraising, building off your recent growth and success to make it easier to fund a third team.
Good luck! Also, were you the wallbot on the first seeded alliance at Worlds in technology?
Yeah that was us. We got a pinning DQ in the semifinals, haha. We’ll do better next time
Edit: just realized you’re from 1492 haha, I’m pretty sure we were DQed against your X team lol
Edit 2: And also, we have grants already and we did get some donations last year, but we also have to pay to run a competition here in AZ. It’s mostly just we don’t want to have to put all the new members in their own teams to fend for themselves, and they don’t want that either. Haha.
That DQ call was definitely borderline! It was a really close set of matches, very exciting. I’m the driver from 1492X by the way. Also with the veterans v. rookies problem we just split up our veterans and rookies equally so that all our teams would be strong. This doesn’t mean that our teams would be stronger if all the veterans were on one team because of the fluid style that lets all members be on every team. Just make sure to constantly collaborate and invite any new ideas from rookies to get them started.
I know how you feel… After going to Worlds our first two years of the club being around, the school knows we are good for a nooby team. And even this past year we were like you. It was hard, most of the time, 2-3 kids were just playing angry birds or chess on a computer. If they have good handwriting, maybe they can take notes from each meeting?? Maybe draw the robots for each team, 2 can organize the engineering notebooks for each team? Maybe 1 vet. member can go around and start teaching code to kids? If you use RobotC you can use its integrated virtual worlds software so they can program a squarebot in RobotC itself.
Sorry I can’t be of anymore help. But our team was just like yours last year
Make sure everyone is busy. Last year we had trouble with organization and a few people decided to sit in a corner and play Temple Run.
HAha yeah, we watched the video a few times and its a tough call as to whether we were waiting 5 seconds in between pins. Its hard for the refs to keep track of it all at once haha, so we’ll be more careful of it this time around.
And as to members not keeping busy, thats the one thing we really want to be on top of. With 6 on our team last year it was perfect, but any more and you run into people just not having anything to do. We considered doing a fluid style with 3 teams, but it concerns us that we only have 5-6 veteran members that would be effectively split among 3 teams most of the time. We can make the choice to have 3 mediocre robots, 2 good(great perhaps) robots, 1 really good robot and 2 noob robots, etc… Its a toughie for sure. It’s also getting tough to focus haha, as the president I’m constantly having to talk to everyone at once and keep everyone doing something, explaining things etc. What we will most likely do is keep the 2 teams, as 3 would be hard for us to swallow. I never thought I’d be wishing for less members haha
Doesn’t seem too bad. There are numerous things you can do to get more than 2 sets of hands on a robot
In the past, we always design our robots so parts can be built individually then put together. That way, about 6 people can work on the robot at 1 time. Get someone else to work on programming, that’s an additional person. In addition to that, try to get the remaining individuals to plan a more sophisticated strategy and robot. That can take somewhere from 5-10 other people
What occurs is that you have a basic, yet reliable robot for your first competition, but you also have a head start on a more advanced robot.
But don’t forget other important jobs, such as photography, notebook, research, advertising and all that other stuff.
This year, we are having a good team, that is basically because its our last year in high school so we wanna give our new members one giant dive in. That isn’t to say we won’t help them at all, they just need to ask. I think it’s good for new members to just jump in and build a robot, its how our team started off, and its how I basically started off last year with the wallbot our team had. This year we actually changed our teams around and now we plan to have 5-6 teams of 3 members each, so lots of robots around the room, fun
You’re right about the learning thing. When we learned vex in freshman year as the original club here in fountain hills, we learned on our own and look what we accomplished in our second year. We did better at worlds than any other Arizona team in history. We’re juniors now and we won’t be around forever, it would be cool for the new freshmen in the club to learn their own way with help from us as much as we can. It’s just quite tough to decide what’s the best way to get everyone to learn the most, do the most, and have the most fun while doing it.
I think I said this to our programmer last year.
After Clean Sweep, we had a lot of people wanting to join our team, seeing how fun the experience truly was. I think it was around 14-15 people wanted to be part of the team.
The first issue that’s important to consider is how you’re going to split the “veterans” among however many teams you’re going to create. We on 10B didn’t really want to “dilute” the experience, since we wanted the best possible chance of doing well in tournaments; we thought it would be worse off for everyone if we were to split up veterans.
We eventually decided we wanted to have two teams total – one with experience and one without (10B and 10A respectively). The deal was that we would mentor and assist 10A throughout the entire year. A third team would’ve been much harder to manage, and people didn’t want to get relegated to a third team (friend circles and such).
Still, a problem remained. Like SweetMochi said, 4-6 members is around the optimum number of people for a team, where everyone can pretty much participate fully. So, after a lot of effort and coordination, taking into consideration everyone’s best wishes, we eliminated (read: voted off) 3-4 people who we thought weren’t that interested or dedicated.
Hard decision to make, but necessary for the benefit and success of all our teams. I’m not saying this is the course of action you should take, but it was the one we took, and it worked for us.
Best of luck to you in the future,
Ouch haha. Our mentor would kill us. We’re hoping that those people in our case will just get bored and leave One already did today lol.
We tend to run 4 to 5 students on a VRC team, 6 is fine but more than that things turn into social hour as people don’t feel they can directly contribute.
Its also been our experience that if you are planning on scouting the field and talking to other teams the 4th and 5th students become crucial to success.
There have been a few threads on “what is the best number of people for a VRC team.” My own take is that 3-4 is all that you need to build, program, and test a robot, but to be really effective at a large event you need 6-7. Also, if you start the season with 6 or so on a team, you can afford to have someone drop off, or who cannot make it to a particular event and still be successful.
I think clubs worry too much about spreading experience around. The single most important thing is that the students on a team want to work together and have a fun, exciting experience. I’m one of the mentors of Exothermic Robotics and the only hard and fast rules we have are that teams have at least six members, and that (generally speaking) you should be on a team with people you like and/or respect. We usually have 2-3 teams that are all or nearly-all rookies every year.
That’s reasonable. If our new members wanted to be on their own team we’d certainly do it that way, but I think they want to be on the “winning” team haha. Our mentor spread news around the school that the “robotics team who competes on a world scale and wins” was looking for new members, lol.