Kshitij Tiwari Ph.D.

10 step guide to starting your robotics club

10 min read

Are you a robotics enthusiast and have been looking for ways to engage with like-minded people? If so, why not start your own robotics club? Robotics clubs are a great way to engage with people who share your passion, and get to learn new things. There is no better way to learn more and take on bigger projects than having a group of people who are destined to be on the same path.

A robotics club can also be a great way to spread the word and make an impact for robotics as a whole. Robotics clubs can also provide an outlet for competition, submitting projects for awards, and learning in a peer-to-peer environment.

Below, we’ll take a look at why starting a robotics club is great, and how you can get started with assembling a team.

What does a robotics club do?

Robotics clubs give members the opportunity to work on robotics-related projects, come up with innovative ideas, and test their limits. It gives members a great way to learn processes, develop technical skills, and apply their knowledge and skills to solving real-world problems.

Robotics clubs can also provide members with the opportunity to collaborate and connect with other robotics enthusiasts in the community. This provides a great way to build relationships and share ideas. Clubs may meet on a regular basis and work on projects together or assist each other with their individual projects.

Who can join the robotics club?

Robotics clubs vary in size and structure but the members could be anyone – students, hobbyists, professionals, or enthusiasts. Robotics clubs are open to everyone who is interested in robotics, regardless of their skill level. There are clubs that are open to everyone, while others target specific skills, such as software engineering, mechanical engineering, and so on.

The main thing to keep in mind when establishing your club is to ensure that all members are interested in learning and having fun with robotics. This can be done through group meetings, workshops, and competitions.

Benefits of starting a robotics club

  1. Learning & knowledge sharing: Robotics clubs is the best opportunity to learn and share knowledge. Robotics clubs offer members a chance to learn from each other, discuss ideas, and share resources. Getting to work on larger projects, develop more advanced skills, and meet people with the same interest makes it a fantastic learning environment.

  2. Compete & get awards: If you are into robotics competitions, starting your own robotics club is the best way to create a team to participate in those competitions. Robotics competitions are gaining momentum and more robotics organizations are offering prizes and awards.

  3. Make an impact: Starting a robotics club is a great way to have an impact on your local community and spread the word about different robotics initiatives. Robotics clubs are also a great way to help young people learn about robotics and how to apply it in their own projects. Additionally, you can participate in local robotics events, knowing you are part of a group and help make an impact.

How to start a robotics club?

Now that you know what a robotics club is, who can join and why you should consider starting one, it is time to draw up a plan of action. This step-by-step guide will help you launch your first robotics club.

Step-1: Market Survey

In order to make the club a viable entity, you would typically need a certain number of teams/members to be actively involved. So, conduct a market survey to gauge the interest of people in robotics and identify the audience demographics you can potentially aim for.

Step-2: Gather management team

After you have analyzed the results of your market survey if you come to a conclusion that is fair bit of interest in starting a robotics club, the next step is gathering a management or core team.

This is obviously the most important step and so should be taken seriously. You will need to find members who have an interest in robotics, who have the same goals in mind, and generally a team you can work with.

You can search for members online through social media platforms or attend local robotics events and workshops. If you are a part of an organization such as a school or university, you can spread the work among peers who are more or less at the same career stage as you so that the core team stays active together.

When you are searching for members, be sure to identify a rough organizational structure including the tentative officer titles so that you know what kind of skills a core team member should bring to the table. Typically this would include roles like a Lead/Principal, Treasurer, Technical Coordinator, Marketing Coordinator, and so on. Remember to keep the team lean and have the roles disjoint yet clearly defined.

Step-3: Prepare club manifesto

Just as much as the core team drives the club forward, it is important to have a clear set of goals and objectives you want to achieve with your robotics club. A club manifesto is a great way to keep your focus and lay down the foundation of your club.

The manifesto should include the goals and objectives of the club, the rules and regulations, and a clear idea of what members should expect from the club.

Step-4: Decide your modus operandi

In order to audit the performance of your club and take timely actions, you would need to consistently meet and discuss various action points.

Of late, remote meetings work as well as in person meetings but it helps to be clear about this from day one and settle on a mode you prefer. You can even prefer hybrid depending on how far and wide you want your club reach to go and if your club would be location agnostic.

In case of in person meetings, be sure to have some tentative meeting locations in mind. This can either be a common space within your community, a coffee shop, or a dedicated robotics workshop.

You also need to decide how often you will meet and make sure everyone is on the same page.

Step-5: Set up club goals

As a part of your club manifesto and given the skills of the core team, you would also need to finalize the club goals.

The club could either be set up to serve educational, competitive, informative, or a hybrid goal. It is important to set achievable goals to keep your members engaged and motivated and ensure that the core team can actually pull this off.

Step-6: Decide on member benefits

Now that the core team and related affairs have been addressed, it is time for thinking about the benefits that the members would get for signing up for the club.

At this time, you should be thinking about whether the members needs to pay for a membership or is it complementary. If it is paid, what is the membership term and renewal fees, if any. Communicate all such matters with your Treasurer to ensure timely settlement of dues.

Depending on how you set up your membership structure, you should also outline member perks such as scholarships which could be used to establish a team and acquire resources by the teams themselves. Additionally, depending on what the club goals are, you would need your own inventory of robotics kits, books, computers, etc.

Step-7: Identify mentors and compensation

Mentors are typically seasoned experts, roboticists in this case, who could either come from industrial or academic backgrounds. Having mentors on standby is handy to ensure timely support for teams and keeping them fruitfully engaged.

You should also settle for compensation for mentors- it could be voluntary participation, or, a remuneration-based mentorship which might affect the quantity and quality of mentors you can on board.

Step-8: Identify financial support instruments

Robotics club by no means is going to be a cheap endeavor- be it hardware or personnel. So, having some sort of financial support from sponsors can come in very handy.

Identify sponsors who can offer support in varying capacities and allocate them a Sponsorship tier. Just like member benefits, allocate tier benefits for sponsors too so that it is a synergetic sponsorship.

Step-9: Prepare for soft launch

With the administrative and financial matters sorted, you should prepare a plan for a soft launch.

For this, you can consider a standard operation procedure (SOP) to onboard new members of the club. Ideally, you should templatize this and run a beta-test to ensure a smooth on boarding for new members. Believe it or not, you will be judged by the new members on this process and if they feel overwhelmed at this already, chances are they will drop out.

Prepare a welcome packet for new members which could include a welcome message, team introductions, club manifesto, past achievements, and other finer details. For instance, you can develop a mini library of worked robotics examples such as a line following robot, a barebones set up of ROS, etc. that can help the new members get up and running easily.

In the welcome packet explain the on boarding steps clearly so that the new members know what to expect when so that they are not left guessing.

Step-10: Advertise the club and start recruiting

Finally, you will need to advertise your robotics club to get more members. You can send out emails, post notices on social media, or reach out to local schools.

Set up the social media handles for the club and you can even build a dedicated club website for better exposure.

Key takeaways

Starting a robotics club is a great way to become part of the robotics community, learn new skills and have an impact on your local community. The most important steps are to gather a team and decide on your goals. If you’re serious about starting a robotics club, take the first steps and you won’t regret it.