Team 6378 - LYNX had a very successful rookie season during 2017 FIRST STEAMWORKS where they have heard from many experienced teams that "The Rookie Year is the Year of Learning". During their amazing journey, they had experienced many obstacles, failures and successes as well which taught them many lessons as to how to emerge as a stronger, more professional team for the future years. That is one of the purposes behind "Lessons Learned". The other purpose is to enable future rookie teams to benefit from these lessons to not repeat the same mistakes but also to allow them to attain immense success during their rookie season as well.
Here Are Some Lessons Learned About...
1. Team Management
- Constantly strive to grow the team as it allows to spend less time per member to achieve an amazing final product.
- Smaller working groups allows members to get more hands-on experience with maximum time.
- Work in pairs that consist of experienced and inexperienced members. The experienced provides guidance and supervision while the inexperienced handles low-pressure situations to attain hand-on skills.
- Demonstrating leadership involves listening for others output before making important decisions.
- Mentors also consist of veteran team members that have great insight and experience.
- Focus on attaining the end goal as a team rather than as a group of individuals.
- Taking initiative to research opportunities to obtain better results and discuss them with other team members such as solutions to different problems.
- Acquire more mentors with diverse technical skills as it brings more experience and allows the team to obtain a more furnished final product.
- Work hard but also enjoy the build season because even as hectic as it can get, the results of hard work are evident at the end.
- Designate responsibilities to individuals as it minimizes confusion and creates an organized structure within the team.
- Saving all design drafts allows members to create a more furnished final product.
- Create Scouting Templates that allows scouts to quickly obtain key information during games by filling the template.
- Keep all tools organized to be able to fix all issues if they arise. Another way to organizing tools is to create a "Tool Sign Out" to keep track of the loaned tools but also to build relationships and meeting award criteria.
- Obtain additional spare parts for important mechanisms.
- Create additional sub-teams to handle all aspect of the teams such as a Business Sub-Team which handles sponsorship, marketing, relationships with other teams and conversing with the judges to meet award criteria.
- Alongside understanding the basic game rules; obtain through knowledge regarding your assigned sub-team to avoid confusion and save time. For example, the Mechanical Sub Team understands the robot specifications more than the other members to successfully incorporate them within their designs ahead of time.
3. Technical Aspects
- Provide members design software such as Auto-Desk Inventor, AutoCAD and Solidworks to allow to create more through prototypes and to find any design flaws ahead of time before any production to save material and time.
- When constant iterations are occurring, create designs and blueprints to keep track of successful and failed designs.
- Establish metrics for success (e.g. percentage success rate) to obtain a successful design at the end of testing.
- Regarding the Drive Team laptop, constantly update the laptop before and after the events to obtain latest info. However, disable updates to avoid any installation wait during matches.
- Build an experimental test bench with electrical components such as RoboRIO, PDP, etc. and play around to understand electrical and to add other mechanisms such as pneumatics.
- Take initiatives with sensory technology, motion detection and computational visions technology such as limit switches, encoders, distance sensors, etc. to aid with many autonomous drives and lining up situations.
- Use ferrules and wire-organizing channels from Automation Direct on wiring to avoid fraying.
- Make bumpers out of silkier material for enhanced aesthetics.
- Prototype the full scale robot in plywood to obtain information regarding measurements as plywood is inexpensive compared to materials such as Lexan or Acrylic.
- Obtain different ways to allow all members to be informed about any changes.
- Between members, the use of social networking sites such as Facebook Messenger allows for major discussions without any issues which enhances productivity.
5. TIme Management
- Read all web resources provided by experienced teams and it requires the entire team as there are many teams out there.
- Establish a strict system for late nights during build season to maximize productivity and to conserve people' energy.
- Set fixed timelines for each day of the build season to understand the all the tasks that have to be done, avoid any confusion and to maximize the limited time to obtain successful results. Breakdown of schedule can include time for finalizing and testing each prototype, driver practice, production of parts, etc.
- Establish who will attend the next meeting before leaving to avoid any other confusion and to obtain results during the next meeting.
- Advertise to school and community to create awareness for any potential sponsors.
- Take advantage of the other teams and clubs within your school to obtain additional help with roles such as photography, advertisements within school, etc.
- To obtain a successful robot, the ideology of "Simple is Better" prevails as it results to little maintenance and extreme robustness within the robot.
7. Game Strategies
- Anticipate counter-strategies of other teams by assuming they have through details of your own alliance and its robots.
- Reassess strategy after each event by conversing about the success and failures to obtain the ideal strategies.
- Build scale model of field/elements/robots (do not photograph this idea) to obtain a sense of the game and to aid with designs.
- Use Bluetooth router to connect cell phones to laptop for scouting for efficiency.
- Evaluate the web-based scouting software from other teams such as 254, FIRES, etc.