43 Replies Latest reply on Jan 17, 2020 8:09 PM by neuromodulator

    Team Contests?

    neuromodulator

      I think it could be a good instance for people to know each other better while spending time developing a project. I would expect a team to be able to accomplish more than single individuals too.

      Would anyone find a team competition interesting?

      What are your thoughts?

        • Re: Team Competitions?
          clem57

          Sounds interesting. But how to overcome logistics of setting up, time zone differences, etc. which makes this a bit hard.

          5 of 5 people found this helpful
          • Re: Team Competitions?
            Andy Clark (Workshopshed)

            The idea of the massively distributed Rube Goldberg machine was raised some time back. Not really a team thing but people working together.

            5 of 5 people found this helpful
            • Re: Team Competitions?
              beacon_dave

              I recall Doug and Glenn attempting a collaborative team project as part of the Pi Chef Design Challenge a while back:

              The Spice of Pi - Blog Doug 1

              4 of 4 people found this helpful
              • Re: Team Competitions?
                tariq.ahmad

                We're always looking for new things to do and initiatives.  One of the things you would have to do is figure out how this would work as far as how to promote ahead of the time to arrange people to get in teams, how long the competition would last, etc.  Next, could it work within a competition or would it be something separate.   There's been some creative ways of doing this with students and Design Challenges in the past and there was also Join The micro:bit Summer Code Club Challenge! to get educators to introduce coding to their classroom and in The Great micro:bit Education Giveaway - Project Highlights you can see great collaboration between classrooms. 

                 

                Personally,  I'd love to see a collaborative Rube Goldberg Competition.   If we had this as a theme option,  how would the collaboration work, and would people be left out (which we don't want to do) if they aren't able to find a team.  Or, should this be treated as a separate animal all together, like the way we do the Birthday Special and the Holiday Special.   If this were a special event when would be the best time to hold the Collaborative Rube Goldberg Competition?

                7 of 7 people found this helpful
                  • Re: Team Competitions?
                    genebren

                    Tariq,

                     

                    To prevent people from being left out, we could have a draft to form the teams.  First everyone that was interested in competing could register, so we knew how many teams we should form.  Then we could have team captains, that would take turns selecting team members from the registered members, until the teams were formed.

                     

                    In order to work out the collaboration, it would help if the project was multifaceted enough that there were enough pieces that could be accomplished individually.  The biggest problem that I see, is when all the pieces need to fit together and integrate into a whole system.  Fun to think about, but it might be a little difficult to pull together.

                     

                    It might work.

                    6 of 6 people found this helpful
                      • Re: Team Competitions?
                        beacon_dave

                        "The biggest problem that I see, is when all the pieces need to fit together and integrate into a whole system."

                         

                        I seem to recall that the Rube Goldberg Machine competition is more generally based around stand alone machines ( or video recordings of stand alone machines ), with each competition set on a theme / required action and that there is some ruling on energy transfer steps (e.g. ball -> switch -> fan -> balloon...) Generally machines are designed to complete a relatively simple task in the most inefficient and entertaining way possible. So if looking at machines that qualify for the above then one would be tied  to the official rulebook for that competition year.

                         

                        However with the Lego RGM competition, I recall that there are two categories, the first similar to above to complete a task within a specified footprint and a second community category which is where different machines are joined together to make a large machine. There are rules about where the balls can enter and leave a machine and I think there is maximum ball rate limit to prevent a machine from stock piling then releasing all at one go and overloading the next machine.

                         

                        So it partly depends on whether or not one is trying to stick with the existing RGM rules, or to try make it compatible with the Lego RGM community machines (in form factor but not materials), or whether  to come up with something completely independent.

                         

                        Another option is to come up with something that has the potential to be integrated with existing competitions but under a new classification of machine. This might be a way to link into STEM projects in schools.

                        5 of 5 people found this helpful
                      • Re: Team Competitions?
                        neuromodulator

                        I think we could allow members to participate as individuals too, but to be honest, I don't think that anyone with enough motivation would have trouble finding other members to form a team.

                        Some members are concerned about logistics, but I don't think that would be much of a problem, as there is a lot of overlap in the access to the same test equipment and components. In the case of an item that just one member owns, I see the following solutions: The item could be bought (just like many items are bought to participate in current E14 contests), it could be replaced by an alternative (which is also a very good engineering exercise, as everything gets obsolete continuously and alternatives have to be found), or the member missing the item could just focus on a different part of the project.

                         

                        If time-zones are too different to permit realtime communication between team members, you could always use email, github or any other non realtime system to coordinate development. Alternatively, if realtime communication is really fundamental to you, you can always team up with people of closer time-zones.

                         

                        One important task in engineering is to solve problems with what one has at hand, I don't see how being distantly geographically separated would be such a big problem. This kind of contest would also allows us to exercise our abilities to work as part of a team, which completely different than working all alone. I think contests like these would allow us to practice other very important aspects of engineering!

                        7 of 7 people found this helpful
                      • Re: Team Competitions?
                        dougw

                        This is an interesting topic to me and I have tried a few times on element14 to get collaborative projects off the ground. A couple of examples are:

                        Vehicle Simulator - VTR / RTR

                        The Spice of Pi Blog Doug 12

                        Theoretically a team effort should allow more complex projects to be completed in shorter time frames, but it is often the opposite because hobby schedules just don't match up very well.

                        I think one motive for collaboration is if there is an obvious division of responsibilities. Perhaps one member has a 3D printer and is good at mechanical design, maybe another member is good at electrical hardware design and has all the test equipment to troubleshoot it and maybe a third member is good at software/firmware.

                        I wonder if it is feasible to have a sequential contest project which has multiple participation, but not with collaboration:

                        Phase 1 contest - design an electronic circuit on the contest theme.

                        Phase 2 contest - after a winner is chosen in the electronic contest, members compete to see who can develop the best firmware for the winning hardware.

                        Phase 3 contest - after the best firmware is chosen, members compete to see who can develop the best packaging or mechanics for the winning system

                        A twist on this theme is to take an open source system and have several contests to see who can improve the electronics, firmware and mechanics the best - say something like a 3D printer design, or a drone, or a robot, or a weather station, etc.

                        7 of 7 people found this helpful
                        • Re: Team Contests?
                          tariq.ahmad

                          This is an idea that I am currently chasing.   The key is that this needs to be different from any other program we have on the community.  I think it solves a few problems we run into with short project competitions...  Not enough time to finish, lots of activity already going on, and what to do with past themes. I like the idea of having team competitions done at a leisurely pace.    I also like the idea of engineers working in teams and focusing on one another's strengths.  It would also give you motivation to build out a project you work on and choose teammates once you've gotten a chance to see what other people can do.   In all,  it would be a wonderful learning experience.

                           

                          3 of 3 people found this helpful
                          • Re: Team Contests?
                            Jan Cumps

                            Whatever the outcome of this vote, it's going to happen

                            1 of 1 people found this helpful
                            • Re: Team Contests?
                              tariq.ahmad

                              It's still up for discussion on how to implement it.    Most likely sometime early next year, if we can put a solid plan together we'll simply replace one of the monthly competitions with a team competition.    That is the most likely scenario. In the meantime,  any ideas are welcome.  What we'll do is pore through your comments and try to implement something that makes sense and try to avoid any pitfalls that may have occurred when we've tried this in the past.

                              2 of 2 people found this helpful
                              • Re: Team Contests?
                                luislabmo

                                Whatever the outcome of this discussion is, I'm in for some collaborative work!.

                                 

                                Luis

                                • Re: Team Contests?
                                  tariq.ahmad

                                  Update: We're shooting for a February or March date to try out a team based competition.  I'll put something together but it will need to be something that is popular with a lot of members and based on experience, and the poll results,  something around test instrumentation seems like a likely candidate. So,  what do you think?  Should we focus on a particular testing tool or should we have a poll to decide which testing tool everyone would like to pair into teams to work on? We've never done anything involving 

                                  2 of 2 people found this helpful
                                    • Re: Team Contests?
                                      beacon_dave

                                      How about some test instrumentation that makerkaren can use over at The Learning Circuit  to help teach others ?

                                       

                                      Could be something that enhances a previous episode or something useful for a future episode.

                                      2 of 2 people found this helpful
                                      • Re: Team Contests?
                                        balearicdynamics

                                        Tariq, IMHO, a specific testing tool pose a limitation that may drastically reduce the number of participants. Instead, with a so big topic, we can find nice surprised and some unexpected good project.

                                        2 of 2 people found this helpful
                                        • Re: Team Contests?
                                          neuromodulator

                                          I voted for test instrumentation, but how many would participate? There were a total of 20 votes and 6 went to test instrumentation. How many of the 14 others would actually participate in a test instrumentation contest? Maybe a new poll could shed us some light. At the moment the theme has been decided I don't see why wait until feb or march, I would probably begin much earlier if I can find a teammate.

                                          1 of 1 people found this helpful
                                            • Re: Team Contests?
                                              tariq.ahmad

                                              I'm a bit worried about that as well.  20 votes total doesn't scream a lot of interest.   Maybe have to rethink what sort of a competition would be popular to work together in teams.   Broadly speaking,  how many people are interested in team contests?   However,  it does intrigue me as it would be different than the usual competitions and it would be interesting to see how people would work together.

                                               

                                              The best example I can think of (feel free to point out other if you find them) would be:

                                               

                                              Would something like this work in a short 2 month period?  Would may people participate?  Hard to say for sure...   But from past experience,  testing equipment projects were very popular on the community and might be a good way to learn what works based on the popularity of both the DIY Test Equipment and Test Instrumentation.  When I brought this up it wasn't met with a lot of enthusiasm and I am guessing there is good reason for that.  This tells me that its better to move this out later than sooner than to rush something out and not get it right.  Also, right now there is too much activity around projects going on in the community and the timing does not seem right.   Also, there is currently a lot planned from now until the end of the year and if we were going to try something new than it would make sense to wait until more members could participate rather than do it when a lot of people have committed themselves to existing activities.

                                              4 of 4 people found this helpful
                                                • Re: Team Contests?
                                                  clem57

                                                  Also give more time for new members to sort out how E14 would work for them...

                                                  • Re: Team Contests?
                                                    balearicdynamics

                                                    Tariq, what you say is right.

                                                     

                                                    I'm a bit worried about that as well.  20 votes total doesn't scream a lot of interest. Maybe have to rethink what sort of a competition would be popular to work together in teams.   Broadly speaking,  how many people are interested in team contests?   However,  it does intrigue me as it would be different than the usual competitions and it would be interesting to see how people would work together.

                                                     

                                                    In my opinion, ost of the makers in this community moves alone, probably because it is not so frequent that several makers or engineers decide to work on a team, just for the intrinsic nature of the maker, at least as we think about it. Then there is the geographic factor influencing this limitation further. For example, I and jancumps have in mind to work on this experimental project, because we become friends as members of the community, then found a good feeling staying together, speaking of everything and electronics too, exchanging ideas, chatting on WhatsApp. And now the idea of a team project becomes possible as we live very near one to the other. But IMHO this is a very exceptional case. For example – I am saying without asking them before – I think that the same experience will be an exciting project teaming with shabaz as well as at least one tent of other members. But it is difficult due to the distance, we live in different countries.

                                                    What you mean with the proposal of working on teams, instead, may work if teams are already existing and one or more of them are members of the community. And probably this is not so frequent (but it is just my opinion). As I think this is anyway a good idea, maybe the case we spend some effort on starting the experiment with teams as I mentioned above while in the meantime we launch a sort of call to teams. First to know how many makers are not working alone and are already a member of the community and second because this can be a good way to launch the proposal. For example, here I know at least a couple of makers and the maker lab of the friend Cristina that I am sure they will accept enthusiastically a proposal like this.

                                                     

                                                    About the testing device project, it is a good proposal to start, sure.

                                                     

                                                    Enrico

                                                    1 of 1 people found this helpful
                                                    • Re: Team Contests?
                                                      beacon_dave

                                                      "... I'm a bit worried about that as well.  20 votes total doesn't scream a lot of interest.   Maybe have to rethink what sort of a competition would be popular to work together in teams. ..."

                                                       

                                                      Perhaps this number isn't really a surprise though ? The usual number of votes cast isn't significantly higher (30-40?) and one would only really expect a subset of those casting votes to be interested in a team build at this stage.

                                                       

                                                      One approach which could be tried, is to launch the monthly project as per normal but add in some form of a bonus/incentive for a team submission. If the team aspect picks up sufficiently, then look at some sort of a team-only competition. If it doesn't, then nothing has been lost.

                                                       

                                                      As for rethinking what sort of competition would be popular for working together in teams, then perhaps one needs to raise the bar a little from the usual monthly project themes. Themes might be more along the lines of: setting / breaking a record ; solution for a widespread issue ; creating an educational resource ; contribution to entertainment / arts / culture ; etc.

                                                      5 of 5 people found this helpful
                                                        • Re: Team Contests?
                                                          neuromodulator

                                                          Adding teams to the usual Project14 competitions sounds like a pretty good idea to see if team competitions would take off as a separate competition. I also like the idea about breaking records, it would be easier to evaluate objectively, and it gives a clear objective on what to focus on in a project. Some ideas could be: Create the fastest wireless link, the highest resolution 3D scanner, the best ML classifying algorithm, fastest FPGA code, etc.

                                                          2 of 2 people found this helpful
                                                  • Re: Team Contests?
                                                    crisdeodates

                                                    It seems like a nice idea. Waiting to see how this will work out

                                                    • Re: Team Contests?
                                                      station240

                                                      Few things I'd worry about with any form of group project.

                                                      1. One person doesn't end up doing most/all of the work, as others can't/won't.

                                                      2. One person doesn't end up doing the dregs/left overs, and didn't get to choose what they wanted to do.

                                                      3. Anything that has to be chain mailed to cross each member's desk for them to work on. That's got to slow down progress, what happens if something gets lost in the mail ?

                                                       

                                                      Ideas that are more workable.

                                                      1. IoT based project with a common website/API to bring the results together. Each member could build a sensor, that way the devices don't need to be physically brought together.

                                                      2. Some form of common bus boards plug into, for instance an 8 bit bus + CE + power or Arduino shields, all the boards could be mailed into one location to be assembled.

                                                       

                                                      I would think given the sort of timelines any team project would need, it's practical to have actual PCBs made up, with or without bodge wires.

                                                      2 of 2 people found this helpful
                                                        • Re: Team Contests?
                                                          neuromodulator

                                                          Situations like 1 or 2 can always happen, and they are part of life. Checking the E14 participation of members could eventually give you some clues if any of those situations could occur when grouping with those members.

                                                          How components are handled is up to every group. There  are many alternatives, as you say mailing from one member is a risky business, so alternatives are to use readily available components that each member has or are available locally or from big distributors with a short delay. Its up to each time to see how they solve those issues, but I agree that project that don't require that many special/odd components are much team friendly than those that do.

                                                          2 of 2 people found this helpful