How much student commitment does our team require?
Student Attendance and Conduct
We expect to see students on a regular basis. We recognize that not every student will be available for every meeting all of the time. However, students need to be active on a regular basis to have some idea of what is going on, fit in, and contribute. In short, they need to be part of the team.
We expect students to:
Put in 85 hours at from September through our first main season competition. Activities outside of team meetings can count with prior written approval.
For those students involved with design, participate in Sunday afternoon and Monday-Thursday evening meetings during the first week after kick-off (typically the week after the first Saturday in January).
Limit cell phone use to contacting family members and supporting team activities (such as looking up information for robot parts). No games.
Do research and other individual team support activities outside of team meetings.
Our standard team meeting times are:
Saturdays, 10 am - 4 pm
Tuesdays and Thursdays, 6:30 pm - 8:30 pm (during the build portions of our season).
Our meeting times and frequency will vary depending on our season.
Parent/Family Adult Commitment
Supporting a FIRST Robotics Competition team requires a lot of commitment. Our key mentors routinely put in 10-20 hours per week to support our team in addition to having full-time jobs. We ask that family adults also help support and be engaged with our team.
We ask the following of family adults:
Attend parent meetings.
Be current on team communications (through our team communications application, BAND).
Help provide team meals during the season and help clean up after lunch.
Be present for at least part of a team meeting three times prior to our main competitions. See what we do and how your student fits in. For new families, we require that a parent attend a meeting with their student three times before we register them.
Assist with non-meeting activities such as fundraising, maintaining spirit items.
Come in and say “Hi!” when dropping off or picking up a student. Take a moment to make friends with other parents and team adults.
We are active in June and July each summer with routine meetings. Some of our existing students will take the summer off, which is okay. As summer is our main recruiting period, we encourage interested students and their families to check out our team. We have an off-season competition towards the end of July (July 22, 2023) for which students will be working on a robot in preparation for, in addition to some outreach activities. The July competition is a full day on a Saturday. However, there is an option for families to help set up and participate in robot practice Friday evening.
During August, we won’t have regular meetings. However, we will have an end of season celebration and will host an open house.
Fall is the warm up for our main season. We will have a parents’ meeting the first Saturday after Labor Day. In September through mid-October, we will be doing training activities, and bonding as a team. We will also finalize our registrations for the coming season during this period. We often limit our meetings to Saturday meetings full-day (10 am - 4 pm ) meetings during this period, with some training activities for portions of the team outside of those meetings.
Starting in late October, we will start our first build season. Our team will design, build, and program a mini-bot for a small robotics competition hosted by a local team. We will continue our typical Saturday full-day meetings and start having Tuesday and Thursday evening (6:30 pm - 8:30 pm) meetings. We will have additional meetings during Thanksgiving week. The competition is typically held on the first Saturday in December. After the competition, we typically have one wrap-up meeting and then no meetings for the rest of the year, except for some limited training activities.
Winter through Early Spring
The official FIRST Robotics Competition starts with season kick-off, typically the first Saturday after New Years Day. This is when the team gets serious. In addition to the regular meetings, we will have additional meetings to support specific tasks. During the final weeks of build, it is not unusual to have students working on the robot six days a week. However, not all students are typically involved all six days. There is flexibility.
Once we are done with main competitions, we typically stand down during the remainder of April through Memorial Day weekend except for a parents meeting and possibly an outreach event.
We typically compete in two main season competitions each year, usually sometime in March or early April. In recent years, the competitions have been in Peoria, Illinois, and La Crosse, Wisconsin. We will attempt to have one of the competitions during a week which is a spring break for most (not all) area public schools. The competitions are on a Wednesday through Saturday schedule roughly as follows:
Wednesday evening, load-in and set-up (only a few team members are needed - additional people will get in the way). Additional “help” can get in the way.
Thursday all-day, continue set-up and work on robot, testing, last minute programming, and maybe even some practice matches (only part of the team is needed, others are welcome). Drive-team, pit crew, programming, and safety need to be present during the day for Thursday. We typically host a team meal in the evening at our hotel.
Friday all-day, qualifying matches.
Saturday all-day, qualifying matches in the morning, finals in the afternoon.
We encourage families to be present for for the day on Friday and Saturday. Watch the competitions and check out the pit areas. Cheer our team and others on. Have fun!
A student works on the wiring on the robot in preparation for competition.