Part of what makes the Killer Bees so successful is the team structure. Through the recruitment, “minions” system, and student leadership, the Killer Bees have proven their sustainability.
- These students work together to build specific components of the robot. Multiple mentors with years of engineering experience work with the students to teach them how to apply math to the robot. But the mentors don’t get to have all the fun. The students are the ones in really charge. Experienced students get the privilege to pick and choose less experienced student “minions” to help them. The “masters” get to teach and learn alongside the new Bees. Two heads are better than one, and six heads are even better. With everyone working together, the robot slowly comes together piece by piece.
- The BATMAN group ( Business and Technology, Marketing and Networking), is essentially the everything-but-the-robot team. They work on computers rather than a drill press, but are important to the team nevertheless. They handle award submissions, website content, documentation, outreach, and more. Just like the shop Bees, these Bees work together to finish essays and take pictures to meet deadlines and document the team’s service and competitions through the years.
- Last but not least, the mentors are the backbone of the team. As high school students, we can’t run a full team all by ourselves. Although student leadership is a major part of being a Killer Bee, the mentors are there to keep us in line and, of course, teach us what we need to know to be successful in FIRST and out in the real world. They go out of their ways to dedicate time and effort into this team and the students on it.
A view from a student on how this really works:
How Upperclassmen Teach Underclassmen on the Killer Bees
Any member of robotics can tell you that mentors are absolutely essential to every FRC team, but the incredible value of student leaders often goes unappreciated. The Killer Bees are fortunate to have many upperclassmen who both take on the responsibility of dedicating themselves to building the robot and also help in teaching underclassmen. Our team is structured uniquely because no one person is designated to be a team leader. This is done in order to encourage any student to show leadership and guide their peers. Thankfully, a number of students have successfully risen to the challenge. Many student leaders still rely on mentors for guidance and instruction, but they have been able to explore their newfound leadership by leading sub-groups of underclassmen. Naturally, at first some students struggled with the process of sharing the work in order to teach others, but eventually all became able to both manage a team and get work done. Having upperclassman teach underclassman is beneficial to all involved because it not only teaches the younger students about engineering but also teaches upperclassmen about leadership.
I have also personally experienced how valuable student leaders are to the team. My freshman year I joined the Killer Bees with almost no technical or mechanical skills; however I consider myself especially fortunate to be on the team with so many people who worked hard to educate and help me. I remember that Ellen, now our senior driver, was the first to teach me how to properly bolt two pieces of metal together, and has taught me so much since. I can’t even begin to list all of the things she has helped me with. Ellen continuously works with everyone to patiently explain new topics and is a great role model through her hardworking attitude. Emily, a current senior, was the first person to show me how to use the drill press and sander when I first arrived on the team. At first I was timid around her, but I soon found that her skill with tools was matched only by her enthusiasm and friendliness. Any time I work with Emily she is able to explain concepts in a way that is easy for me to understand. Being taught by other students is one of the best ways to learn because they also remember how complicated new things can be and explain things in a way that makes sense. Upperclassmen educating and helping underclassmen like me is just one of the many things that make me absolutely love being a Killer Bee.