In the Getting Started section, we will look at two of the three essential steps to getting a robotic football club/project (RFC) started and approved. They are the following.
The cost of starting a RFC, while not bank breaking and cheaper than other more costly engineering projects (Baja, Formula 1, etc.), is far from trivial. Based on a parts list used in the robots built by the RFC of Notre Dame, the cost of building a singular basic robot from scratch is roughly $1300 + shipping, where the prorated cost sits around $800 + shipping. Combined with the need for 8 players on the field to play, extras for substitutions, and specialty modifications for unique players, the sum becomes difficult to overcome without external resources. The cost for building a full team from scratch is roughly $10,000, but maintenance thereafter is a small fraction of that cost.
To combat the initial costs of building the team, look for funds by contacting interested parties or individuals. Talk to department heads of engineering disciplines and see if they think this is something worth investing in. In the case of Notre Dame, design, maintenance, and innovation of the robots qualifies as a senior design project for mechanical engineers. This in turn allowed the club to obtain funding through the Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering department (AME). Other sources could include the organization governing the school clubs.
Petition to the overseeing organization. RFC is a great engineering centric club that is also easily accessible and enjoyable by even non-engineering or science related majors. Engineering clubs that are easily accessible, comparatively cheap (in comparison to other engineering clubs), team oriented, and open to all majors are hard to come by, but RFC fits this description handily.
Finally, reaching out to industry partners can provide some resources. Many large engineering companies have funds set aside for investing in local/regional projects that help the education of future engineers that may eventually come to work for them. Introduce them to the club and it is very possible that they will leave a donation towards the development of the club.
For a RFC to compete in the league, they should have at least 8 robots on the field at once for both offense and defense. Given this, a RFC club should have a minimum of 8 members, though 16 members to 16 robots is preferable. Clubs larger than this can explore role specialization (drivers, repairs, special teams, shot callers, etc.). Either way the minimum number of members is 8 drivers, who are dedicated enough to commit time to practice driving, repairing, and building the robots.
To get members and to spread awareness of the club, try visiting classrooms of popular teachers who wouldn't mind a one or two minute presentation before their class. Engineering classes are preferred, specifically those of freshmen and sophomores if a solid base of upperclassmen have already been established. To clubs already established consider making a short video demonstrating what the club does at competitions.
If your school has club fair/ activities night, try to claim a spot so that you can advertise. Bring a robot (doesn't have to be functional) as a visual aide in showing people how they can get involved, be it as an engineer or a driver.
Club Registration is not covered in this guide as the rules regarding registration vary between schools. Consult your school’s club governing organization for details and requirements to be recognized as an official school club.