This past semester a few of us worked on building a robot for the Trinity Fire Fighting Competition. A short time line and many beginner mistakes kept our robot on lab bench, but we learned a ton and will be back and better prepared for next year. These are some things we learned through the process about how
to be more effective as a group. Have a strong leader. This person should be someone who can keep the group on track and make sure everything that needs to get done is done. The leader needs to hold themselves
and each group member accountable for his or her responsibilities. The group leader also needs to be someone who won”t usurp control and will make sure all the members of the group have
a say. Have clear goals. Make a list of everything that needs to be done in order to complete the project; don”t leave anything out. Outline how you”re going to get everything done and make a
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time line to keep things moving along. Delegate tasks. Keep idle time to a minimum by making sure everyone has something to do before meetings. Since you already have a list of all the tasks, it should be easy to determine what needs to be done and how many people you”ll need on each task. Share the load. Having a diverse skill set is a great benefit, but everyone
in your group should have some basic skills so
you don”t get to a point where you”re waiting on one person to do something. Everyone should be have some basic soldering skills and be able to do basic coding. If they don”t, teach them early on, there won”t be time once it comes down to the last week and there”s a million things to do. Do incremental testing. If you wait until the last minute to test everything, nothing is going to work. Write code in chucks you can easily test and make sure you”re testing the code with the actual hardware configuration you”ll be using in the final product. Make a check list. At the competition there will be a ton of distractions and you”ll probably be sleep deprived. Having a crutch can prevent fatal mistakes like
forgetting to connect the batteries. It also makes sure you stay consistent when setting up the robot. Leave extra time. You”ll want plenty of time before the competition to test everything and have time to optimize your algorithms. Because things always take longer than expected, it”s nice to have a buffer so you don”t miss the deadline. Don”t be afraid to change course. If something is not going to work, stop. There”s no point wasting time and energy trying to fix something that is inherently flawed. If things aren”t going smoothly, see if you might need to go in a different direction. Think of different ways you can solve the problem and evaluate whether you can salvage what you have or if you need to start fresh. Don”t be afraid to fail. The only way you can truly fail, is to not learn from mistakes. Think about your failures and use the lessons learned to get ahead in the future.