Administration

Contains our goals, curriculum design guidelines, and learning outcomes.

Contains our varsity letter requirements.

Contains the software team style guide.

Student organizational structure

Since 3512 was founded, the software team has enjoyed a certain level of autonomy. With that, we've been free to establish our own internal leadership structure. Rather than a typical top-down leadership structure, we operate more like a "software committee". Everyone is equal and contributes to the code base on their own volition with mentors performing quality control. There is a software lead who handles meetings and shields the members from administrative stuff, but the title doesn't imply any superiority or power over the other members.

This works best when everyone is equal in skill level, so the mentors work hard to promote learning among rookies to raise their level of competency to that of the others. We encourage collaboration to aid this process.

Role of the mentor

Pursuant to the goals listed here, the mentors teach rookies the basics of writing software and enough of the tools to make them productive contributors. The veterans already know how to write software, so the mentors can focus on actually teaching them software engineering. Ideally, the students contribute during the design process and are able to justify their design decisions.

The students learn the subject matter most efficiently with mentor guidance, so the mentors are fundamentally in a partnership with the students. While the students should do the work, the mentors should use their experience to inform the students of available tools and potential pitfalls so an informed design decision is made. In this sense, the mentors are primarily in an advisory role.

However, the mentors also possess the long-term vision for the team and should push the boundaries of the team's accomplishments each year to achieve it. To do this, the mentors may implement tricky bits of framework code, but the students should still understand what has been written and should be walked through it step-by-step if necessary. Remember that FIRST is a program for the students; giving them a sense of accomplishment and ownership keeps them engaged and returning each year.