The Bowmar Builders are an FLL team associated with Bowmar Elementary School. The purpose of this blog is to help other students interested in robotics to learn from what we have learned. As an FLL Robotics team we use the Lego EV3 robotics system and the Mindstorms graphical programming language.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Project Management Skills, Part 1

By Aaron Byrd

Project management is an important concept to learn. In order to successfully manage their time, the team needs to know how to manage the project.  The team needs goals and milestone, and a plan to get there. While coaches certainly can and should help the team manage their time and timeline, exceptional teams are able to manage their time wisely by themselves.

Project Management

Project management skills are critical to the success of a team. The members of the team need to know and use project management skills. Many of the concepts are going to be over the heads of the team members but as a coach you will need to refer back to these concepts over the course of the year. This is a short-short overview of project management.

The video linked above breaks project management into 5 steps or phases:
1. Create the Project Plan - Create a project charter and use an outline or a template if available.
2. Breakdown deliverables - what are the primary goals your team wants to accomplish.
3. Determine dependencies, critical paths, issues, risks, and resources
4. Create a timeline - when do the deliverables need to be accomplished?
5. Assign resources - figure out how to give people tasks and the means to accomplish them.

Project Plan
The project plan consists of
1. Name of the team and its mission or purpose.
2. The core values of the team
3. How the team will treat each other and interact with each other.
4. The goals (i.e. deliverables) of the team.
5. Dependencies for each of the goals.
6. Risks for each of the goals.
7. Timeline for tasks to accomplish the goals.
8. Resources needed to accomplish tasks.
9. Assigned resources to the tasks

1. Name the team and create the mission statement.
Come up with something fun for a name! Then, figure out why you are doing whatever it is you think you'll do.

As a world-class FLL robotics team, the three-fold mission of the Bowmar Builders is to develop interest and competency in STEM fields, including technical communication, for the team members, promote interest in and desire to study STEM fields for the students at Bowmar Elementary School and in our community, and to promote, mentor, and assist other FLL teams.

2. The core values of the team
The central values of the team members are the glue that hold them together. They are also a key part of the competition. Examples include Discovery, Learning, Integration, Synergy, Think Win-Win, Coopertition, Mentoring, etc.

FLL as a whole has a set of Core Values. Your team can adopt any and all of these and add others as well.

3. Team Interactions
The interactions section is both physical interactions (where and when the team will meet) and social interactions. How will the team members show respect to each other? How will they handle disagreements? How does Gracious Professionalism  and Coopertition come in to play? How will you honor the spirit of friendly competition? How will you learn together? How will you have fun?

4. Team Goals
What does the team want to accomplish? What is it you really want to do?

For example:
Goal #1: Develop competency in technical communication skills in the team members.
Goal #2: Develop team leadership skills and knowledge in the team members.
Goal #3: Successfully research and develop a world-class project.
Goal #4: Successfully develop a world-class robot, including programming and design.
Goal #5: Promote robotics and STEM activities at Bowmar Elementary and in our community.
Goal #6: Provide feedback, mentoring, and assistance to other FLL teams.
Goal #7: Have fun!

5. Develop dependencies. These include tasks and resources needed.

In order to achieve goal #1, develop competency in technical communication skills in the team members, we as a team will

1. Research and practice professional speaking skills
2. Research and practice professional presentation skills
3. Research and practice professional writing skills

This will include at-home research with team discussion of skills. We will incorporate the skills we learn into the development and execution of our presentations for Project, Core Values, and Robot Design. We will have two off-site meetings where we will practice public speaking skills. We will each write several blog entries on technical subjects related to FLL, our robot, our programs, our project, and our core values.

The resources needed to accomplish these tasks are:
1. An off-site meeting place
2. Access to on-line resources about professional speaking, presentation, and writing skills
3. A website where we can write and publish our articles
4. Access to internet-connected computers

Parts 6-9 to come!


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