Matthew again, here’s the second of three posts.
In this post, I’ll break down the budget into sections and talk about what is needed in each section.
Alright, let’s go! The main feature of this blog post is this pie chart below:
I’ll only be working with magnitudes and percents here, since I’m restricted from releasing specific numbers.
The largest category is the parts order. The allocated budget for this section was calculated from three primary factors:
Hardware is expensive! We’re planning on adding two or three new components for this competition, so that adds up per robot.
The starting pool of Robotathon entrants are usually somewhere between 50 to 100 students. The standard team has about 4-6 people, so we can reach up to 25 teams. With one robot per team, we’re looking at around 10-25 robots that need parts. We’re currently targeting a max turnout of 100 people, 5 people in each team, and a maximum of 20 teams.
While we do reuse parts, a lot of components may become unusable over the course of Robotathon. A lot of students can break parts like TM4Cs or sensors because they directly connected a power source to the microcontroller with no power regulation.
We don’t expect to spend the whole budget allocated for parts, as we’re looking to optimize cutting costs by redesigning requirements or thinking of alternative part solutions, but it’s always good to have a ceiling to make sure we know where we are.
The second largest category is food. Self explanatory, right? Last year, we had an absolutely massive budget for food compared to this year (that we obviously didn’t use completely), so I and Burak toned it down a bit.
There are a couple times during Robotathon that we want to utilise this part of the budget:
Robotathon Kickoff - This meeting is technically a General Meeting, and covered under a different part of the RAS budget. However, we’re considering a friendly meet and greet after the kickoff that involves a campfire behind the EER and smores.
Weekly Checkpoints/Workshops - To promote attendance and engagement, we want to have a time for teams to get together, ask questions, learn new things, and potentially compete in checkpoints. As an incentive, we might provide snack shop credit to the winners for specific checkpoints.
The Final Countdown - RAS has a tradition of opening up the office the evening before competition all night for teams to finalize their robots, whether that is tuning, adding new components, or building a last minute robot from scratch. It might be a good idea to provide snacks to hungry members.
This is a decent chunk of investment, and something that needs to be done fairly early in the game to get teams invested and testing their robots before competition. Last fall we had issues getting the field ready weeks after kickoff because we finished the design so late.
The investment into several parts:
Wood for the boundary and extraneous structures. Somewhat cheap.
Foam boards, to be cut and used into tiles. May use magnets to stick together.
Lots of thick and sturdy blueprint paper, colorized and laid onto the foam boards for the field design. This may prove to be expensive.
There are other costs, allocated for the Spring semester for field building. They aren’t reflected in the budget for this semester.
This next category is important because typically, students outside of Engineering aren’t very aware that we exist (it’s gotten better recently, with our Couchbot running down Speedway for Party on the Plaza). With good advertising, we can attract as many people from different majors as possible who are interested in Robotathon and want to contribute to RAS after the competition ends.
Allocations for this include printing flyers and posters. Specifically we’re looking at 2 full length posters, 1 for Kickoff and 1 for Competition day, to be displayed in the EER. Flyers can be distributed by tabling, and we can ask various departments for permission to post flyers in their spaces.
A couple of things aren’t represented in the allocated budget here, such as:
A separate Student Brochure, which is part of a separate corporate budget
Announcements on our newsletter, the website, and by the ECE department.
We’re looking at laser cutting acrylic and wood for the trophies this year. We have a couple of interesting ideas we’re currently looking at, although final designs won’t be approved and mass produced until after Kickoff. Since they use broken TM4Cs as the centerpiece, the cost mainly lies in the wood, acrylic, glue, and spray paint.
For certificates, we have several categories of awards, so there may be a substantial increase in awards needed this Robotathon.
An important factor the cost of these awards depends on is how many people are interested in Robotathon and sign up for the competition. The amount of people in each team also is an important factor (4 trophies for 1st place versus 6).
If you have any questions or comments, please message me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Author: Matthew Yu