Set up a calendar with all the important dates: grant due dates, meetings, team promotion and fundraising activities, kick-off and competitions. Have it accessible to everyone.
Decide on your goals – what kind of team do you want to be? What are your strengths? Weaknesses? What do you want to accomplish? Everyone should be on the same page.
Get parents on board early. They will become mentors, fundraisers, cooks, cheerleaders, and drivers. Give them a good understanding of how this team will change the lives of their children. Make it clear they need to be involved.
Get a clear picture of how much you will need in terms of cash. Find a Rookie team (from last year) close to you and discuss your budget with them – hub teams are great but their needs are different. They might be looking at TV’s and new flooring for their pits and you need a tool box and socket set. Don’t forget the US exchange rate might affect costs to Canadian teams.
You need to call now to book the Ford fundraiser for next year. Car washes need to be done in nice weather, cookie dough sales set up months before Christmas – think ahead.
Make expectations clear – put them in writing. How often is a student expected to attend in order to travel with the team? What are the costs to the members? Can they contribute by doing the work at home? Do they need to keep up their grades? How and who will monitor this?
Don’t try to assigns positions too early. As students find their paths, interests will change and leaders will emerge.
Many established teams suggested watching old footage of past games and robots, but if we could do this to do over, we would say to only watch the kick off video of the past games 1st. Then, have your team think about how they would play the game and design a robot. Next, have them make up CAD drawings or prototypes – even if they are just out of cardboard or wood. Finally, compare their designs to the robots in the game. How did they do? How could they improve? How long did it take them to design? Would they be able to do this in 6 weeks?
Order a large 3 port battery charger right before kick off. You will need it.
In a district? – try to choose your events at least 2 weeks apart if you can. Two events in 2 weeks only really gives you 3 days to repair the flaws you will find with your robot – and you will find flaws!
Invest in a large plastic shelf and cheap coat rack for your pit if nothing else.
Bring lots of bottled water to competitions.
Make sure you know where your tags are at times!
Put a small piece of plexi-glass under the robot-rio to act as a shock absorber (thanks George) to keep it from getting knocked offline.
Take advantage of the full weight allowance if you can – it’s hard to play defence when you’re the 70 lb weakling (and everyone wants the rookies to play defence).
Take lots of pictures and document everything!
Ask everyone for help. Find a younger team close by with similar goals – they will have lots of good advice for setting up, look to established teams for long term organisation.