Robot Build - Concept Feasibility
EVALUATING TEAM MEMBER COMMITMENT
- Be aware of your student and adult participation. Address any concerns as soon as possible. Try to ensure all team members are relatively engaged
- Find time to talk with your team members to understand how they are feeling about the process. Try course corrections as necessary.
EFFECTIVE USE OF MEETING TIME
- Be aware of how you make use of your time during meetings. Are you making progress? Do you have meeting goals for each meeting? Are you accomplishing them? If not, reassess your goals for practicality and ensure someone is leading you forward.
- If people issues / relationships are causing your meeting inefficiency, identify someone to sit down and talk with the individuals involved in order to minimize the issues.
PARTS INVENTORY / TRACKING
- Determine where you will store all your parts, those from the KOP (Kit Of Parts) from FIRST and those additional parts you will use to build your robot and will need for your team.
- Create an inventory of your KOP and ensure the inventory and any additional purchased materials list is up-to-date
- Label your parts as you see appropriate. Some veteran teams label their parts by year so that they can tell them apart from previous years' kits. You should not have this problem initially, but you still might want to label your parts anyway.
- Identify a team member to weigh all motors and parts you believe you will use.
- Keep these weights handy as you work through your design in order to estimate your total bot weight.
PURCHASING ADDITIONAL PARTS / SUPPLIES
- Do not hesitate to purchase parts you will need for your robot design / construction. Use the FIRST vendors in the current year documentation. Determine the lead time to purchase parts and how your school / purchasing department works to acquire materials. If you need to expedite your orders due to your internal processes, do it ASAP.
- TIP - Determine who has the authority to expedite this process and engage him/her/them early, preferably before the build season starts.
- By the end of this week at the latest, a decision should be made on what your design concept is. This incorporates the functions you want your robot to perform during each match. The concept of "do one thing and do it very, very well" is a nice mantra to live by. However, if you want to do more and believe you have the capability, go for it. Challenge your team, but be realistic
- If you have enough team members, you should be divided into sub-teams to "divide and conquer." Having a leader who is accountable for the progress of each team is critical. It is also important to have planned interactions between the sub-teams (or sub-team leaders) to ensure that the left hand knows what the right hand is doing.
- If possible, develop a project plan whatever way you can (hand write, spreadsheet, Microsoft Project) and assign someone to monitor progress versus your plan goals.
- Here is an example of a detailed project plan we referenced during a prior build season. (NOTE: the plan was helpful in determining a general direction; we did not meet all the due dates ;))
- ATTACHMENT - PROJECT PLAN in:
*DOWNLOAD* Robot Build Excel Sheet
PLAYING FIELD / GAME COMPONENTS
DECIDING WHAT TO BUILD
- You are probably planning to build the appropriate playing field and game components as specified in the FIRST game documentation. Depending upon your budget / space, you may consider building alliance stations and portions of the playing field.
HOW TO USE WHAT YOU BUILD
- Ensure that all team members have the opportunity to touch and interact with the field components you build. The best way for them to understand the game is to interact with the field components.
- TIP - Try to design flexibility in your robot to account for variability in field components. For example, plan for any playing field, scoring component, or goal dimensions to be slightly variable from match to match. As the field components take abuse from a full playing field of robots / match, they may also change shape.
STRATEGY / COMPETITION TEAM
- Continue to discuss the game and your strategy. Focus on what you plan to do and what you believe your opponents will do. With many robots on the field each match, it will be critical to understand many possible permutations of the game.
SELECTION OF COMPETITION TEAM
- If you have not already done so, determine how you plan to select your competition team. Who will be the coach; how will you select drivers; what will the criteria for selection be?
*DOWNLOAD* Competition Team Evaluation Matrix
FIRST WEB SITE / TEAM UPDATES
- Check the site frequently. Make sure someone is obtaining and communicating Team Updates to the rest of the team. Ensure someone is checking the Question and Answer Section of the website.
- Check the FIRST documentation for modifications, especially prints for the playing field components
- TIP - Team Updates are communications directly from FIRST to update teams on the game, rules, and competition plans. It is critical that your team obtains these and shares them with the whole team. Multiple team members may obtain the Team Updates from FIRST via e-mail. See the FIRST website for details.
- Feel free to post your questions as soon as you have them
FIRST COMPETITION AWARDS
- Determine which awards, if any, you will be targeting when you attend competitions, and which awards require special submissions. Most of the awards do not have separate submissions, but are selected by judges at the competition. The ones that require submissions are:
- Woodie Flowers Award
- Autodesk Inventor Award
- Audodesk Visualization Award
- Website Design
- Deans List Award
- Identify team members who will work on the submissions for your team. Even though rookie teams are not permitted to submit a Chairman's Award entry, they are encouraged to prepare one as a criterion for judging the other awards, especially the Rookie All-Star Award. It is a good way to keep your team focused on the true meaning of FIRST.
- TIP - Some of the awards are due BEFORE the robot ship date. Closely follow the criteria listed, such as number of words or required information.
RESOURCESIncluded in text above, and summarized here:
- Robot Build Excel Spreadsheet
- Robot Build Microsoft Project file (requires Microsoft Project software)
- Competition Team Evaluation Matrix