|By far the most difficult part of building a robot is learning to work as a team. There has been times when one member of a team will show up at a work session and then not be able to make the next session, only to have everything that was built disassembled because the team did not understand the direction the design was going in. There has been times where one member of the team does all the building while everyone else sits around and watches. There has been times when everyone in the group thought someone else had done an important function – like charging the batteries. Once in a competition, one team member decided to completely disassemble their robot during lunch, not knowing that they had qualified and would be picking for the elimination rounds after lunch. The worst case scenario is when everyone on a the team is so upset they all leave the build session with no plan to get back together.|
Learning to work together on a robotics team is one of the main reasons colleges and companies seek out robotics students..
Some of the key elements to a team's success are:
Team Members and tasks:
Assign responsibilities to the team members:
Team leader – This is not “the BOSS” but the person who keeps people on task, leads brainstorming activities, and works with team to assign tasks. This also has to be the person who everyone in the team agrees will be the one to make a final decision if the team is at a deadlock.
Team recorder – This person needs to provide a method of communication so changes to the team's plans are available to everyone, even if people are not there. This could be a simple notebook, a common file folder on the school's server, an email list, or a blog.
Battery maintenance – It is very important that batteries are charged for work sessions and competitions. The robot needs to have a fully charged battery when it goes on to the playing field.
Programming – This person needs to keep track of the programming of the robot, be responsible backups to the program, and all upgrades have been done.
Robot inspector – This person needs to make sure the robot design is compliant with all the competition's rules. Especially robot dimensions – robots have a tendency to grow in size.
Drivers & coach- These people need to know all the game rules, be able to complete quick repairs to the robot, know the team's game strategy, and develop a checklist that is checked against the robot every time it is put on the competition field. Things like: Is the battery plugged in? Is the controller connected to the field control system? Is the crystal receiver plugged in? Are any jumpers that are set for programming in the right location?
Team Image master (optional) -This person is responsible for designing and procuring team shirts and graphics/decorations on the robot.
Teams can be as small as 2 students, but all of the above tasks must be still be completed.
Communication - Communication is crucial to the success to the team. One of the first things the team needs to do is agree on how they are going to communicate. There are two aspects that the team needs to consider. Communicating outside of meetings/work sessions and communicating with members who are not present at meetings/work sessions. Emails, phone lists, school-based communication programs like Blogger, Blackboard, or social networks, even low tech methods like a bulletin board in the meeting room and a logbook that stays with the robot can be used. Whatever method is decided on, it is only effective if members use it.