Baxter Robotics Team Handbook
***Living Document - Subject to change at any time***
Mission Statement 1
Seasonal Schedule and Expectations 5
Pre-Season (September-December) 5
Build Season (January-Mid-February) 6
Competition and Championships Season (Mid-February-April) 6
Off-Season (April-September) 7
Team Structure 8
Parts of the Team 8
The Outliers provide a learning opportunity that inspires teens to pursue careers in STEM fields. Through working with and teaching each other we develop technical and nontechnical skills. We build from success and learn from failure creating robots for FIRST Robotics.
(This is a working, living document, and will be modified over time.)
Founded in 2015, The Outliers are Baxter Academy’s FRC robotics team. FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) dubs itself “the varsity sport for the mind.” Each year a game design committee at FIRST headquarters in New Hampshire designs a game to be played by opposing alliances, each with three robots. The game is announced in a kick-off simulcast on the first Saturday of January. Thousands of high-school teams around the world spend an intense six weeks designing, building, and testing a robot to compete in the game. This is followed by seven weeks of competitions leading up to the district and then world championships.
The Outliers are a team of volunteers in which all members serve on a provisional basis. Team members’ roles and responsibilities are earned, not granted, grandfathered, or entitled. Team members that do not meet their expectations, as determined by the mentors, may not be allowed to participate in some or all team events or activities, or may have reduced roles and responsibilities.
Team 5687 is a Baxter Academy organization and as such, students on the team must abide by the same rules that govern all Baxter students as stated in the Baxtitution. Team members must conduct themselves accordingly, as ambassadors for the team, the school, and the state, no matter the situation. Additionally, members are expected to follow the behavior standards listed below and on the Robotics Behavior Ladder.
Break time behaviors:
Robotics is an activity in which students regularly work with sharp metal and dangerous tools, activities that that can be hazardous. All members must follow the guidelines listed here to keep our team an example of safety in the robotics community and to prevent injury within the team. Teachers and mentors always have the final word in any situation where safety is at risk. If any student is found engaging in unsafe conduct or behavior that does not comply with the code of conduct, there will be consequences up to and including dismissal from the team.
In the event of an Emergency:
The Outliers are part of a broad community, one that extends beyond robotics competitions. We use robotics to inspire others to become involved in STEM education. Additionally, the Outliers would not exist without raising funds from the community. Students are required to participate in outreach events throughout the year, Additionally, to help support the team, all team members must complete 10 documented hours of outreach and fundraising outside of school hours.
Outreach Opportunities include (but are not limited to):
Team 5687 is becoming known throughout the robotics community and is trying to foster a distinct identity. We have developed a set of comprehensive identity standards to help create and maintain our strong team identity. Identity policies must be followed for all team appearances and communications.
Written Documents on Behalf of the Team:
Wearing uniform apparel improves the collective image of The Outliers, while also identifying students at competitions. In general, it is recommended that students wear an official team t-shirt, preferably one from the current year, at competitions. Failing that, clothing color that mirrors team 5687’s colors (maroon, gold) is tolerable. When representing the team in a highly visible way (e.g. interviews, drive team, demos, or presentations) it is critical that students wear the current year’s shirt, not covered or altered in any way (with the exception of a team branded sweatshirt). The school dress code applies to members of The Outliers at all team sanctioned events.
It is never acceptable to wear rude or insensitive graphics while representing the team in any way.
Student Behavior Ladder
This may include one or a combination of the following:
Steps 1 - 4 on the School Behavior Ladder
This may include one or a combination of the following:
Steps 5 - 6 on the School Behavior Ladder
This may include one or a combination of the following:
Steps 5 - 8 on the School Behavior Ladder
Any combination of these steps that equals three steps will result in removal from the Team.
This is your chance to get to know robotics before the pressure of the build season hits. It’s also your chance to figure out your role on the team.
Academics and the Team:
Build season begins at kickoff. The entire team will gather the morning of January 5th, 2019. Other teams will gather in venues around the world to watch the game reveal video which will describe next year’s game challenge. We’ll then spend the rest of the weekend reading the rules and brainstorming game strategy.
From kickoff and through the next six weeks to “Bag Day” we work an average of 30 hours a week, although sometimes a fair amount more.
Build season ends with Bag Day, when we have to have the completed robot sealed in a plastic bag with a coded zip-tie by midnight. This season, Bag Day will be February 19, 2019.
During build season, all members of the team must work together, collaborating on research, prototyping, fabrication, and other projects both in and out of their areas of focus. Students will be expected to work alongside their peers, putting aside squabbles, gripes, or other chemistry from outside of robotics. Participation in the team includes hundreds of hours of work within a extremely small group, and as such, students are expected to overcome or resolve social distractions from the classroom or out of school.
Students are expected to manage their time effectively. There are no “extensions” in FRC. During the 6 weeks of build season every minute is precious. For parents this schedule often means working together to transport and support students early in the morning, late at night, and on weekends. Students are expected to continue to participate in every Thursday meeting. Students are also expected to participate on the weekends, however, the exact days may be determined by weather or a student’s role (for example, a student who is working on the CAD model may be expected to work more at the beginning of build season, later perhaps moving to a new area of focus, while a student working on programming will work more at the end of build season). Students are responsible for staying up-to-date with progress on the robot during build season.
Typically we compete in three district competitions, although that may vary year to year. We try not to attend events on consecutive weekends, but that may not always be avoidable.
District events last three days and are mostly out-of-state, meaning we spend two nights in hotels for each. A typical event weekend will look like:
Note that we typically participate in the Pinetree event in Lewiston, which runs Thursday through Saturday and usually does not involve hotel stays.
FRC competitions can be highly stressful, requiring tolerance, endurance, and professionalism. While winning may be an objective, members of The Outliers follow the spirit of FIRST--our focus is on learning and development, and we firmly believe that winning follows from that focus.
Competitions often involve a lot of dull waiting time interspersed with periods of frantic, urgent activity. Team members are expected to wait patiently when they are not actively needed, but be readily available if things change.
The New England District Championship is a four-day event, but otherwise follows a very similar schedule to other district events. Expect to spend 3 nights in a hotel, with two days like the Saturday described above.
The World Championship takes place in Detroit, Michigan. We, of course, don’t know if we’ll qualify, or whether we’ll attend if we do qualify; but it is much like the New England championships with the addition of a full day of travel before and after, an extra day of competition, and a lot more stress. It is especially crucial that our standards of behavior and communication are upheld at this event.
The off-season is everyone’s chance to try anything they didn’t get to try during the season. Want to try your hand at driving? Your idea for a climber mechanism didn’t make it onto the competition bot? This is your time to experiment and refine ideas for next year.
Off-season competitions are organized much like the formal events, but with original touches. They are smaller with modified rules and less formality. The off-season events allow experimentation both with the robot itself and with the drive team which operates it. These events let students try their hands at different positions with an eye to next year’s participation, and without the pressure of the competition season. Despite the casual atmosphere of off season events, expectations of student safety and team identity must still be upheld.
Team titles refer to functions, not individual team members. Different team members may fill different roles for various amounts of time. Team members hold roles at the discretion of the mentors.
Team members will identify with one or more field(s) within the team, not a particular position. Team fields include:
Each field will have a scribe. The role of the scribe will rotate weekly between team members who have identified within the field. The role of the scribes includes maintaining task logs and communicating with other fields about developments that will impact their work.
Some positions may necessitate that an individual team member fill a role for an extended period. Mentors will determine which team members will fill these roles based how well students meet their expectations. Students serving in these positions do so at the discretion of the mentors and are not entitled to the position. These positions include:
All members of the team are required to register their Baxter Academy email address and their personal phones with team management. Team members must check their email daily at least.
The Outliers website, theoutliers.org, will be updated regularly during the year. All critical information, including events, meetings, and other scheduled events are available. Most important resources, websites, and software also are available.
The Outliers email list includes parents, guardians, mentors, students, and others who wish to be kept up to date. Emails from this account are official information, including hotel assignments, competition dates, transportation, and other logistical topics.
Team members and parents are encouraged to pay close attention emails from email@example.com, as these notifications are infrequent and critically important.
Slack is used to convey time-sensitive information such as requests for parts locations, progress reports, and channels for specific topic-discussions. Slack is also used for mentor/student communication.
All students must actively monitor The Outlier’s Slack organization. Students are advised to download the Slack mobile app (available for iOS and Android), and the desktop platform (slack.com/downloads).
A team work log will be maintained by scribes. Scribes from various fields will record all work done in that field on the task log. They will also identify any issues that may affect another teams (for example, if the mechanical team unplugs several motors, they would tell the programming and electrical teams of that change). During preseason, task logs for the week will be completed by end of day each Friday. During build season task logs will be completed by the end of day Friday and end of day Sunday.
While scribes are primarily responsible for maintaining the task log, any team member can and should enter pertinent information on the task log. Oversight of the task log will be conducted by the team manager.
It is every team member’s responsibility to monitor the task log to make sure they are up-to-date with the current status of the robot.
Event Information Page
All information regarding event planning and logistics will be displayed on the Event Information Page. All the known information about upcoming events will be stored, including: rides and carpools, hotel arrangements, food plans and requirements, etc. This page will be maintained by mentors, but can be viewed by all team members and their families.