Lessons Learned - 2017

  1. Recruitment: As an FTC team transitioning to an FRC team, one of our limitations was our small team size. In order to expand our team, we conducted rigorous interviews with students from 5 schools, a process that was successful. However, we hope to do a better job setting and enforcing expectations for the new team members in the future.
  2. Leadership: One of the skills many of our team members have learned was “owning” a certain task and making sure that it gets done to a certain quality and on-time. Leadership was also crucial in maintaining order among team members as it made sure that they were focused on working on current tasks.
  3. Scouting: One of our weaker areas this year was our scouting team. However, after observing other scouting teams operate, we now understand its value and plan to create a full-time scouting team next year.
  4. Judging: While many of our members enthusiastically spoke to the judges and were well-prepared, we hope to get more team members to do so next year.
  5. Mentor Feedback: While we do have the team members reflect on the season and think about the lessons that they learned and the ways in which we can improve, we would like to have the mentors provide feedback throughout the season to the team members so that we can fuel continuous improvement.
  6. Losing with Dignity: Despite our losses, treating them as a matter of dignity and respect awards us with a learning experience. Instead of feeling conflicted with defeat, we learned to accept it and learn from the loss. What should we have done differently? Where do we need to improve in order to be better next time?
  7. Gracious Professionalism: Upholding a professional competitive environment, but also respecting others at the same time despite winning or losing. This helps us wins us the cooperation with other teams and creates a friendly competition environment.
  8. Time management: Our team assigned tasks during each meeting, but much time was spent searching and salvaging parts, postponing many of our tasks behind schedule. We realized that time management was very important in order to complete the large number of tasks within the short period of time we had.
  9. Trying out new things: Beginning with programming was daunting, especially because of the lack of prior knowledge. Using online resources, we were able to write basic programs for simple commands; however, it was tough to tackle more complex programs due to the shortage of documentation. Because of this, we learned to not keep away from unfamiliar challenges and approach them with some determination.
  10. Fundraising/Tools and Equipment: This year, we were financially strained by the end of our season. For our next season, we plan to start our fundraising efforts much earlier to improve our chances of getting funds and have a full-time fundraising team.
  11. Team Morale: We learned that team morale was vital for a successful season. When team members put off their work or skipped meetings, we found that the team felt a drop in enthusiasm. In order to prevent this, we realized the importance of adhering to a good attendance record and working in a positive manner with each other.
  12. Group Separation and Planning: We learned that we should divide up everyone into 2-3 subteams to work on independent subsystems for each mission. Though we did split up some of the tasks, like cutting bars, making the gearboxes, or other small tasks, we were not able to split up whole mission subsystems and hope to improve this next year.
  13. CAD is First: Starting off the season eagerly, we all went into building the robot instead of planning out the design on CAD, a mistake whose consequences we faced throughout the build process and at competitions. We realized the importance of planning out a design on CAD before attempting to implement it.
  14. Prioritization and focus: Beside all of the robotics related skills, we have also learned to be disciplined and efficient in the building process. Building an 80 lb multi-tasked robot is very intimidating and complex, so it was crucial that we concentrated our efforts on only two of the three missions to ensure quality and prevent ourselves from spreading too thin.
  15. Performing Under Pressure: During the season, there was a lot of pressure that almost every single member went through regardless of what role they had. Many of these roles were delegated to members during high pressure situations, and it was vital that they learned how to adapt to these situations quickly.