By Alyson Scott
A company sponsor – or co-sponsor if they have another company they’d like to split the time/costs with – serves as the students’ link to the manufacturing industry and offers them the opportunity to see modern manufacturing first hand. The team company sponsor hosts the students at their facility each week for a few hours (or whenever the team decides they will meet) and assist with the design, build, test – and battle! – a 15 lb combat robot – and show them the types of careers that are available at their company along the way.
The company sponsors financially support the team and pay for materials, etc. that are used to create the bot. The costs can vary depending on the design – and it’s up to the company whether they want the students to work under a set budget or if they are able to utilize scrap materials. Many of our first year teams order a starter kit for the ‘guts’ of the bot – basically the heavy metal chassis and controller – which costs $950. Any materials needed for the weapon or armor would be in addition to that main chassis/controller. This is where companies can use the materials they have on hand, donated from a supplier or purchased specific to the program.
The other main cost is the man hours spent working with the kids. This, however, is difficult to define as different sponsors handle it in a variety of ways. At Fredon, when our guys are working with the team, they are ‘on the clock’ – while other companies’ employees volunteer their time to work with the team. Teams typically meet once a week for a couple of hours – more often if needed as it gets down to competition time. A big benefit that many companies take advantage of is hiring one of the students from the team after they graduate – part time in the summer or full time. The company has been able to see the students in action for 6 months so you will know who the superstar kid is – then make them an offer! This program is very much like an internship in that regard.
Check out this playlist on YouTube to see some videos of the kinds of bots the teams come up with.
Hopefully that’s given you some basics related to cost of the program for a company interested in sponsoring a team? If you have any more questions or if you would like me to further explain anything I mentioned above, please let us know!