What We Learned In Our Rookie Year
1. Break up the year into three sections: Pre-season/Build Season/Post Season
2. Build in flexibility during the pre-season with respect to commitment for students to get involved in the program workshops so they can continue to be involved in other school co-curricular programs. This will allow students who are not familiar with FRC to try out and potentially get involved.
3. Allow Students who want to be involved in various sub-teams to do so rather than only one sub-team. For example, if a student wants to be involved in the pit crew, let that student be a part of it and help them learn what they need to be successful.
4. Develop a team communication strategy and practice communication between sub-teams during the pre-season.
5. Encourage students to take risks with prototypes and encourage failure in the pre-season.
6. Develop a culture of gracious professionalism during the pre-season. Promote sharing of resources and ideas. Develop an open source mindset.
7. Reach out to veteran teams and FIRST to get a competition carpet for the work area during the pre-season.
8. Purchase workbenches and storage units with the 10’x10’ pit area in mind.
9. Setup workshop in the same configuration as the 10’x10’ pit area. This way team members will be use to the location and organization of tools prior to the events.
10. Develop safety practices and procedures from the get go.
11. Develop organizational habits early in the pre-season. Tools and materials must be put away in their proper places after use.
12. Post safety and shop rules clearly and review with team members.
13. Attend the kick-off event and reach out to veteran FRC teams to seek their advice.
14. Read the rule book/manual carefully paying close attention to detail, making sure everyone on the team understands all the rules.
15. Devote the kick-off day to understanding the rules/manual and developing a team strategy. Do not start building until this is done.
16. Develop a timeline for the build season leaving enough time for the drive team to practice.
17. Don’t fix a system that’s not broken!
18. If you plan on making significant improvements to the robot between events. Prioritize one improvement. Don’t make too many improvements at one time. This tends to make it difficult for the drive team to adjust to the changes.
19. Keep the design simple, efficient and reliable. If a task can be done using two parts, there is no need to use more parts to make it complex.
20. Measure twice, cut once! Patience and precision are more important than rushing to get the job done in a substandard manner.
21. Use the right tool for the right job.
22. Develop an environmental ethic by encouraging reusable plates and utensils rather than using disposables. This is in particular important during build season team meals.
23. Try going to competitions a few weeks before yours to get an idea of what it’s like and learn from other teams or practice scouting.
24. As a rookie team, try to play to one aspect of the game really well. Then after your first competition (if you have time) add on something to the robot that will help you play another aspect of the game better.
25. At the competition, talk to other teams and try to form relationships with them.