This page aims to give an overview of all of the major tasks that need to be done during a summer school cycle. It should be added to and amended throughout each cycle to ensure that it is accurate.
Specific tasks are written in italics.
Rough dates are written in bold.
October / November
At this stage, we need to work out the organisation and details of the course so that it can be opened for registration.
Key Roles Allocation¶
The key leads in each organisation need to be identified. SRO needs a point of contactP to manage discussions with ECS and keep track of tasks. ECS need to select an academic who will be in charge of the course from their end.
- TASK: ECS to select academic lead
- TASK: SRO select primary organisational contact
- SRO usually have a team of people working on organising the summer school, but the University likes to have a name on their list.
Any major improvements that we want to make to the summer school following feedback from the previous year need to be identified.
- TASK: Review Retro from previous year
- TASK: Review feedback from Smallpeice
Food, accomodation and evening activities are funded and managed by Smallpeice. The funds required to run the daytime robotics activities come from ECS. In order for ECS to allocate the required fund, a draft budget is required. This can be based on the costs for the previous year + inflation (CPI - Consumer Price Index). Additional planning may be required if changes with new costs are planned (e.g major equipment manufacture).
- TASK: Perform a rough inventory / inventory audit
- TASK: Create and submit a draft budget to ECS
- TASK: ECS will confirm budget and provide cost codes
The details of the course need to be confirmed between us, ECS and Smallpeice. In particular, we need to provide a description of the course that can be used to promote the course. We also need to confirm the maximum number of places available on the course.
At the time of writing, the course description from the previous year could not be found.
- TASK: Confirm the course definition
Proposed dates are usually suggested by Smallpeice after discussions with the university Hospitality and catering department. Before dates can be confirmed, there are several key resources that need to be booked.
- Zepler L2 Labs
- The Cube
- Bar 2 and other spaces in B42
(Ideally) Large space near our primary storage - currently B53 / 4025
TASK: Book Labs
- TASK: Book SUSU
- TASK: Book rooms for logistics
- TASK: Confirm dates with Smallpeice
Later Stage Planning¶
November - ???
We need to ensure that the students on the course have sufficient access to the University's computing resources.
- TASK: Confirm conference accounts (usually done by ECS)
- TASK: Borrow laptops (1 per team.)
Whilst SRO do not handle most of the catering, it is important for us to check that it has been booked. We do need to book any breaks taking place in SUSU though, as this cannot be done though Hospitality.
- TASK: Confirm break catering
- TASK: Confirm meal catering
- TASK: Book breaks with SUSU
Call for Volunteers¶
After the dates have been confirmed, we can open volunteer sign-ups. This is usually done as an online form (Google Forms).
It is important to leave this late enough in the year so that students with summer internships know what they are doing.
There are various bits of information that we need to get from volunteers, many of which are sensitive and will need to be handled in accordance with GDPR.
The following is the minimum data that we need:
- Email Address
- Name (inc. Surname)
- Date of Birth (No under 18s)
- Volunteer Availability
- Usually done as tickboxes: Morning, Afternoon, Evening for the weekends before and after, as well as the week of the summer school.
- Do they wish to help before the main event?
- T-shirt size
- Include "No T-Shirt"
- Dietary Requirements
- Accomodation requirements
- DBS Checked? (Not Required)
- Formal Meal attendance
- Data Protection Statement
- Acknowledgement of Payment (or lack thereof)
It is also recommended to collect:
- Volunteer Meal Attendance
It is important to get all volunteers to signup, so that we have the right names to give to Smallpeice for food.
Date Unknown, ASAP
The game for the event should be designed and agreed upon as early as possible in the cycle. It is blocked by few things (mostly kit capabilities), but feeds into arena design, as well as labs.
When designing the game, it is worth reading the Game Design Desiderata
- TASK: Open game idea submissions
- TASK: Hold discussion meeting
- TASK: Submit final idea
- TASK: Finalise Rules into formal document
- TASK: Prepare information for Rules Q&A
Prepare Student Packs¶
At the introductory talk each student is given a pack. These bags include printouts of the rules and a map of campus, and prospectuses.
- TASK: Print Rules
- TASK: Pack promotional items e.g pens
- TASK: Acquire bags
- TASK: Print maps of campus (mark key areas?)
- TASK: Acquire Prospectuses
- TASK: Pack the student packs
It is important to create risk assessments for both students and volunteers at the event.
Past risk assessments can be found here albeit not in a great format.
In SP2019, the risk assessments were handled by ECS, working with us to ensure that any risks from the activities were covered.
- TASK: Create Risk Assessment
Student Information Packs¶
~1 month before
About a month before the event Smallpeice send out the event information and several pieces of information need to be included in this pack.
- Week Schedule
- Invite Parents to Finals
- Any worksheets (usually Python)
This is mostly handled by ECS.
- TASK: Book car parking for parents for finals
Confirmations with Smallpeice¶
~1-2 weeks before
Around 1 - 2 weeks before the summer school, Smallpeice will contact us asking for confirmations on:
- Formal Meal Attendance
- Volunteer numbers
- Dietary Requirements
- Accomodation numbers and dates
This section documents how we have historically run the week, and what needs to be arranged for it.
Volunteers will arrive from Saturday onwards. Accomodation should have been arranged for them as necessary.
Students will be dropped off at halls. This is organised by Smallpeice, but we usually send a couple of volunteers to greet them and take them to the venue for the introductory talk.
Before the students arrive, there should be a volunteer briefing, usually in the same room as the introductory talk, just earlier.
This should include:
- Introduce everyone. Names, pronouns.
- Safeguarding information
- The Schedule
- Communications Channels
- Who to talk to for:
- Arena Decisions
- Event Decisions
- Lab Decisions
- Tech Help
- Welfare / Safeguarding issues
- Any other points of contact.
Student Introductory Talk¶
This is the first activity of the week. It involves several speakers.
Volunteers not needed elsewhere should be present for this. This is especially important for new volunteers so that they can understand how the week works.
ECS Coordinator - 5 minutes
A brief welcome to the university, fire information, etc.
Smallpeice Course Coordinator - 15 minutes
Smallpeice will briefly welcome the students and talk to them after safeguarding and expectations.
Senior ECS Academic - 15 minutes
General Outreach / selling of the university.
- TASK: Confirm presenter for ECS Welcome Talk
How to build your robot¶
SourceBots volunteer - 30-60 minutes
Introduction to the game and rules, how the week works from our perspective. May also include the next section.
Common pitfalls, and a brief introduction to the kit are mentioned here. The students should receive a link to the kit docs also.
Usually a video to show them what the robots are like. This has historically been the SR 2013 TieBreaker.
A demo robot can optionally be used.
- TASK: Prepare Robot Building Presentation
- TASK: Prepare Demo Robot
The content in this section is free to move around, as the schedule sees fit.
The students attend three academic talks on topics relevant to the course. Each lecture should be an hour long and is usually given by a lecturer within ECS.
- TASK: Find lecturers for three lectures
- TASK: Ensure rooms are booked for lectures
The students are given tours of some University facilities.
In the past, we have visited 3 of the following:
- Tony Davis High Voltage Lab
- Nanofabrication Clean Rooms
- Boldrewood Towing Tank
- UAV Lab
The students will be split into several groups and visit the facilities on a rota. The walking time between Highfield and Boldrewood needs to be considered in the schedule.
In SP2019, the tours were handled by ECS.
- TASK: Arrange tours
We run 4 labs throughout the week. The order is not specific, but it is recommended to put the mechanical lab first.
The purpose of this workshop is for students to plan their mechanisms and robot structure.
By the end of this lab, students should have marked their base on a piece of plywood, to be sent to the ECS mechanical workshop to be cut on Tuesday.
- TASK: Create / Obtain joint examples
- TASK: Write a worksheet for the mechanical lab
- TASK: Organise wood to be cut with mechanical workshop
This lab teaches the basics of Python to students.
It is optional as some students may have been taught Python already. It is worth confirming this with students, as the vast majority of them will need to participate.
- TASK: Ensure programming software is installed on computers
Robot Programming Lab¶
This lab teaches the subset of Python specific to our Robot API. It usually uses a simulator of some kind.
- TASK: Setup the Simulator for this years game
- TASK: Distribute simulator
This workshop guides students through some basic principles of Electronics and building some sensors for use on their robotics.
- TASK: Update Electronics Workshop Activities
- TASK: Purchase components for electronics workshop
- TASK: Confirm with ECS Labs that we can use any required components
- TASK: Print Electronics Workshop Handouts
- TASK: Pack components for electronics workshop
Students will stay late in the labs on Wednesday evening to work on their robots. This is essential to ensure that they have enough time.
We usually introduce students to the Cube today, even if the arena is only partially built.
On Thursday, Smallpeice hold a formal meal.
We should invite guests to the meal.
Notably, we ask a couple of the ECS academics responsible for admissions to come and give a talk on the admissions process.
Students will present their robots during the meal in "lightning talks". They are not informed of the lightning talks until Thursday afternoon.
- TASK: Invite some ECS academics to the formal meal
- TASK: Move robots to formal meal venue
The competition is the culmination of the week's activies as teams compete in our arena.
The arena is built in the Cube. There are not any other suitable locations on campus.
The Cube will need to be prepared for the competition, which will take the majority of the week.
- TASK: Arrange for Estates and Facilities to move arena parts to the Cube
- TASK: Purchase arena construction materials
- TASK: Hire any materials needed for the arena (Scaff / Truss)
- TASK: Book Tables and Chairs from SUSU
- TASK: Book tech from SUSU
- TASK: Obtain screens for the arena
- TASK: Plan arena lighting
- TASK: Print arena markers (if using vision)
- TASK: Print signage for Cube
Teams are each given a "pit" on Thursday and Friday when they are in the Cube.
A "pit" is a table, with space for chairs, and some power.
There should also be an area for testing robots.
Pit placement per team should account for any accessibility requirements of Teams Members and Mentors.
- TASK: Plan Team Pit Layout
- TASK: Arrange for power distro to pits
- TASK: Build Team Pits
The pits for Smallpeice have always been on Bar 2, although this was not enough room for SP2019.
The Head Judge will give a briefing in the Cube, explaining to teams how the league and knockouts will work.
Tinker Time is a period during which teams can test their robots in the arena.
In the past, time allocations have been managed on a whiteboard. However, with a large number of teams, it is probably worth scheduling this in advance.
- TASK: Schedule Tinker Time
In SP2019, a mini-league was run instead of tinker time.
- TASK: Schedule the mini-league
Friday Break Closure¶
In the past, during the Friday morning break, the Cube is closed to students. This allows us to convert the arena into competition mode and any last minute tests to be run.
House lights are turned off, and the arena lighting setup is turned on. The music is swapped to the epic playlist, starting on the preselected intro song.
- TASK: Plan competition intro sequence
The league is the vast majority of matches and scores and used to seed the knockouts.
- TASK: Prepare League schedule
The knockouts determine the winner of the competition.
- TASK: Prepare knockout schedule
After the final match, the arena is cleared of any props to prepare for the closing ceremony.
- TASK: Plan closing ceremony
Commemorative photos are taken in the arena. The photographer usually stands on the Cube balcony.
- Students, Smallpeice and Volunteers
We need to work with Smallpeice at this point to ensure that media consent is observed.
Our Guest speaker (usually Head of ECS) will give a short speech about the university, and the students' achievements during the week.
- TASK: Arrange for guest speaker
Prizes will be presented to students by the guest speaker. They should be laid out on a table upon the stage.
The following prizes have been traditionally given:
- First place
- Second place
- Third place
- Facilitators Award
- We usually use a flowchart to determine this, such that no team wins two prizes.
- It is usually the same prize as first place.
This is often the robot which volunteers believe should have won, but didn't.
TASK: Purchase prizes
- TASK: Design certificates
- TASK: Design awards cards
- TASK: Print certificates and awards cards
This process involves getting out of SUSU before they shut, and begins immediately after the students have left. It often continues onto Saturday.
- TASK: Schedule packdown
Claiming renumeration varies each year. It should kick off immediately after (the monday after) the event finishes. for the last 2 years the process has been the following: 1. TASK: Confirm Smallpeice is happy with paying for N volunteers worth of time. 2. TASK: Ask smallpeice guy for the claims form and distribute it along with a Google form for bank account details for repayment 3. Wait 2 weeks whilst collecting everyone's forms 4. TASK: 3 days before deadline, prod those who haven't sent their form. 5. TASK: after the deadline, send the forms and details to the Smallpeice guy to cause the payments.
This page was written based of the work of T Ward, but moved here to make it more accessible. A compiled version of his work is available. Additional information has since been added to supplement this work.