Hi, Sam Weaver here again folks! I am here to represent the programming team in a discussion about how I decided to structure our programming team for optimal functioning and accomplishing our objectives. 

I am the programming lead, but I balance many other responsibilities on the team, so it would be impractical for my to lead and manage all other members of the programming team, so I assigned 3 subteam leaders alongside me to manage all other teams. I formulated a list of what happens in the season, and came up with the following teams. 

  • Alpha Team — Robot Code
  • Beta Unit — Autonomous
  • Gamma Squadron — Vision
  • Delta Fleet — LEDs and Driver Feedback
  • Epsilon Battalion — Scouting App Code
  • Zeta Contingent — Website

I assigned leaders for these teams, I led Gamma Squadron and Zeta Contingent myself, while the other leaders took some other teams, with some taking multiple roles. 

We were careful to listen to the students’ interests when assigning them to teams, and we assigned a student to 2 or more teams, so they could develop their interests in multiple fields. Here is what some of the students had to say about the multi-team system:

This was my first year on the Wired Wizards team. I heard about Wired Wizards from my friend Charlotte and decided to go to their presentation at the school and then some meetings later on. I’d never programmed anything in my life but still chose to join programming team because Charlotte was in programming and I’d always wanted to learn to program. I chose to work with LED’s because I thought it would be cool and I was told it would be a good thing to start on. It was fun to work with the other people on the LED team, called the ‘Delta Fleet’, to make the LED’s work. I remember being so proud when I first made the strip light up. We thought the name ‘strip1’ for a variable was an odd name so we decided to call it ‘susan’ instead. ‘Susan’ became a lasting joke and eventually the name of our robot. Many of our conversations became riddled with puns to the point where we made a ‘pun jar’. You would have to put one coin in the jar for each pun, the first time we counted the coins in the jar we had over 10$. I had so much fun this year and hope to stay on the team for as long as I can.

Emma Pleasants (Rookie 2016)

The multi-subteam organizational system has greatly brought programming together as team members and friends. It’s a lot easier to get work done when it’s divided into different groups, as you mainly just have to focus on what your group has been assigned. I’ve also found that it is a lot easier to ask questions and get answers quickly, being as the people in your group are working similarly. In addition to bringing us together, this system is a major factor in helping us stay focused, especially during the six-week build season prior to competition. Work is a lot easier to get done when we aren’t all doing different things. We can educate other teams using this method by having specific subteams helping them, rather than the whole programming group. The methods used to explain FIRST to the community parallel those used to help other teams. Each subteam specializes in something different, making them helpful in their own ways. 

Charlotte Smith (Rookie 2016)

We didn’t just talk to rookies either! Students who have been on the team before we implemented this system also testified to its success. 

The system of organization used by the Wired Wizards’ programming team has brought members together efficiently to tackle problems that may otherwise bog down our overall performance, both during off-season and build season. By having groups isolated for the brainstorming and workload of specific tasks (i.e. robot vision, LEDs, robot code, autonomous, our scouting app, and our website), while still ensuring the sub-teams are not too isolated (best accomplished by individuals not being reserved to, for example, only autonomous code, but also contributing to robot code and the website), problems can be solved quickly and collaboratively, and each member can know what they’re doing, what they should do later, and why what they’re doing matters. To the general community, the multi sub-team structure allows for an easy and brief explanation of one’s role, setting up the scenario for the inquisitor to collect more and more information, branching from just one role’s summary.

Tom Sanford (Rookie 2015)

Though he didn’t have time to provide a quote, our veteran, who rookie year’d in 2013, agrees with the above quote from Tom. 

In conclusion, we just wanted to share how awesome our system was, and we hope you can benefit from this information. 

Sam Weaver