Dear Rookie Teams
As exciting as it is to be a new robotics team, it can also be overwhelming. This is why it is important for veteran teams to help out rookie teams learn the ropes. Our team has provided some materials that we believe will assist you in funding, designing, building, and/or programming your robot. We also included materials on how to develop a business plan. See the "Iron Giants Guide to Success", this includes information about registering your team, finding events, what to expect at events, creating promotional materials, and more. If you have any questions at all, please email us at , we will be more than willing to walk you through the process and help your team be successful.
The first step to fundraising is to develop a budget. This will allow you get a better idea of how much money you need to raise. Things to remember when creating your budget include, but are not limited to: robot parts, hotel expenses, competition fees, outreach programs, promotional materials, equipment and facility use, and travel costs. Once you have your budget you will need to decide how you want to fundraise. It can be helpful to apply for grants. You can find some grants on the FIRST website . Other ways to fundraise include calling, emailing, and writing companies. We typically try to start with companies that our parents work at, then we expand to other local businesses. We have attached our example email and call sheets to give you an idea of what we mean. When trying to find sponsors, it can be helpful to create sponsorship tiers. These are an incentive for sponsors to donate more money. Other fundraising ideas include, bake sales, selling coupon books, hosting a trivia night, and/or hosting an event.
Marketing and Media is an important part of robotics, it allows you to create a 'brand' that will be recognizable to your community and to other teams. We suggest that you consider creating and maintaining social media accounts. These are good ways to promote your team to your chosen demographic and socialize with other teams. Another thing we would suggest is to come up with a logo and slogan. This will be the official representation of your team. Use this logo and slogan to create your promotional materials. This makes your team look more professional.
A business plan helps teams to sustain their programs. Things you may want to include in your business plan:
Team Mission Statement
Step One: Understand the Game
Once it is released, analyze the game and begin to break it down. You will want to have a thorough understanding of each component of the game.
Step Two: Create a Strategy
When creating a strategy, take into consideration the different parts of the game and there perspective point values. What will be the best way for your team to meet the requirements and score the most points?
Step Three: Define your Design Priorities
To do this we labeled different components (shooting, climbing, etc) of the game and then rank from 1-3 on their priority based on our strategy. We then go through the same components and rank them on a scale of 1-3 based on difficulty.
Step Four: Research
Once we have decided our team's design priorities, we go on the internet and research concept solutions. This allows us to begin compiling our ideas for the robot design.
Step Five: Design and Prototype
Our team will then begin to put the design ideas into CAD. Once it's done, we begin to create prototypes to test the design. If the prototype works the way we wanted it to, we will use the design on the robot. If not, back to the drawing board.
The first two-three weeks of build season consist of trial and error with the design. During this time people are working on our pit design, safety program, competition marketing materials, the program, and also wiring the drive base.
Step Five: Finalize the Design
When the full robot CAD model is done, our team meets to make any final adjustments. Once it has been approved, blueprints will be printed out and the build team will get to work.
Step Six: Build
This step is self- explanatory and very time- consuming.
Step Seven: Program
Hopefully by this time your team members have chosen and learned a programming language. You will need to program the different functions of the robot so that it can be driven in competitions.
Step Eight: Test and Improve
This is the moment everyone have been waiting for, the first time you see if your robot will do all of the things it is supposed to do. You will most likely have to make adjustments to the program and to the design to perfect it before Bag n' Tag. Continue to practice with your robot and perfect it until you have to bag it.
Step Nine: Breathe
You made it through all of the stress that comes with Bag n' Tag. Now it is time to prepare for competitions.
BEFORE THE COMPETITION
Don't wait until the last minute to make hotel and travel arrangements.
Make a detailed checklist to make sure that you don't forget anything.
Make sure your team is registered through FIRST and that your consent forms are filled out.
Consider bringing Flags, Banners, and Signs.
Look into Awards and be prepared to speak to judges.
WHAT TO BRING TO THE COMPETITION
Robot and Robot Cart
Spare Robot Parts
Consent Forms (if not done electronically)
Flags, Banners, and signs
First aid kit, fire extinguisher, and safety binder
WHAT TO EXPECT
Pits: Each team gets a designated space, usually 10 ft. by 10 ft. by 10 ft. This is a space for you to store and work on your robot. There is a power source and table provided. You can decorate your pit.
Check-In: This takes place at the Pit Administration. Upon receipt of your team's consent and release forms, each team will receive Drive Team and Safety Captain Badges, Pit Map, and Match Schedule.
Get Inspected: To ensure all robots are eligible to compete, there is an official Robot Inspection. Robots must complete inspections before competing in Qualification matches. We recommend that you arrive to the inspection as soon as possible.
Spare Parts Station: Select robot parts are available at each event, however, availability varies from event to event.
Scouting: Because teams must pick partner teams for Playoff Matches, many teams research other teams' strategies and robot capabilities.
Queuing: The Pit Announcer and Queue Volunteers help maintain the practice and match schedules. Teams should designate a team member to know the team's match schedule, carefully watch the clock, and alert the team when a match is coming up. Once a team is called, the Drive Team should report to queuing with their robot. If your team is in the first four matches of any day of competition, the team's robot and the drive team must queue prior to the Opening Ceremony.
Open and Closing Ceremonies: These are held at every event, to show honor and respect for represented countries, sponsors, teams, mentors, volunteers, and award winners. These ceremonies provide everyone with the opportunity to applaud the success of team members and mentors. During this time, only five team members are allowed in the pit.
Here are key components our safety captain recommends you consider adding to your program
Step one is to designate a safety captain
Safety day to teach members how to properly use machines
Safety handbook including shop rules and other important information such as how to read Safety Data Sheets and neutralize Battery spills.
It is really helpful to read the Safety Manual provided by FIRST.
It is important to review the proper dress code and the necessity of using Safety glasses.
You may want to develop a safety test, this allows you to see your team's understanding of general safety concepts.
Preparing for Safety at Competitions:
You may want to bring a binder that includes, your team's Safety Data Sheets, First Aid procedures, Pit Rules, Shop Rules, Accident Logs, and anything else you think would be good to have on hand.
You will want to bring a First Aid Kit, fire extinguisher, and a leaky battery kit.
Talk to other Safety Captains, most are more than willing to share their program with you
There is so much that goes into one season of Robotics. Knowing this, we recognize that there is a lot of information that we haven't covered. Below we have a link to the 'Iron Giant's Guide to Success' this covers more information we believe would be helpful. If you have specific questions you can email us at or fill out the form to the right. We are here to support you in any way we can, good luck this season!!!