10 tips for a better start in the ERC!
A foolproof way to secure more points in qualification, check if you use them all!
So, your team decided to join the challenge. That’s great! We’re always happy to see the community grow, and we can’t wait to meet you.
As much as we’d like to, we cannot fit all teams that apply each year into the competition schedule. That’s why the first step is qualification. We understand that you may feel intimidated by so many more experienced teams, but have no fear! We prepared this guide with tips to help you make a perfect entry!
- Focus on documentation! Yes, we know this is boring, but remember that we will decide who gets into the competition based entirely on documentation. Preparing professional documentation is essential for future engineers, so start your practice now. You’ll thank us later.
- Be strict. When you see in the rules that documentation needs to be six pages long max, make it six pages long max. If there’s an announcement that the video needs to be two minutes long, make it two minutes long. The same applies to deadlines. Also, remember that unless it is stated otherwise – documentation or video documentation is for internal use only, so there’s no need to waste space, for example, to add your sponsors.
- On the other hand, remember to plan your documents cleanly so we can read them with ease. If you see that you won’t make it inside the page limit, think about what to cut. Lowering your font size, adding multiple columns won’t do any good. Technical documentation needs to be crisp, clean and focused on essential parts.
- It’s a good idea to split your team into sub-teams if you haven’t already. You’ll probably need a sub-team for mechanics, programming, science, and others. Designate team leaders and let them work focused on their specializations. Another great idea is to have a person who will take care of bureaucratic stuff and keep track of documents and deadlines. Of course, don’t forget about social media and promotion, but we’ll write more about that in a moment.
- Sponsors. Find them! Unfortunately, we’re not able to help you with that. What can help you find them? Think about how you can commercialize your project in the future and find a use for it that can benefit a company. Look for companies in the same town/region as yours, as they’re more likely to help you. Remember that it’s not always about the money, but for example, parts, 3d printers, etc. Do you know what else can help you with sponsors? Making it possible for them to show their branding on your rover when you appear in the media or the cameras on-site. Each year we use rover photos to show what the ERC is all about – give us the chance to show a cool-looking rover with your sponsors’ logos on it!
- Look for coverage in local newspapers, tv, or web portals. Of course, if you have a shot for bigger media, do it. We know that people have no idea how exciting building a rover can be, and not only people at NASA do that! Show them an original way to gain experience as young engineers, because you undoubtedly are.
- While we’re here – consider making sure your team is visible on social media. In the current world, it’s a must to have a profile on every significant social media platform – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. Ask friends for likes and shares to build a community. Check if you can use your university’s profile to reach other students. Remember to post content regularly. Try to post something that may interest people following you. You may also use those platforms to post your team’s progress in the competition. Remember that the more extensive reach you’ll build on social media, the more attractive you’ll be for sponsors. During the preparations for the ERC, we’ll do our best to show your profiles to our audience!
- Get your team a shared email and configure it, so each email received from us will be sent to all team members. Such email should come in format (for example) email@example.com. This way, you’re future-proofing yourself in case someone forgets to redirect the message to other members of your team. There are dozens of examples of that in our experience. Also, email is the primary way of communication in the ERC. It’s crucial for the whole team to have access to our announcements.
- Choose one person who will be responsible for communication with us. It will make communication much more direct and make it easier for everyone.
- Be sure to check all other ways you can interact with us:
a) For questions regarding specific rules or any doubts about them, please use Mattermost, where you can ask questions directly to the jury. You can also share your experiences with other teams. Remember to use open channels (unless you want to ask about something specific to your design which you prefer to keep secret – then don’t hesitate to write to the jury directly or to Konrad Lippert (team coordinator), who will guide you).
Use this link to register to Mattermost and then join all channels you’re interested in. If this link is not working, try it in Google Chrome or manually copy and paste it to your browser. In our experience, it solves most of the problems.
b) Check our Facebook group: “European Rover Challenge – Community“.
We’re trying to post some cool stuff less officially there. Also, you’ll find reminders about deadlines and other helpful information about the competition. You’re also more than welcome to share something yourself, but please remember to use English.
c) For any other queries, always contact the team coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you have any doubts, this is where you should seek help.
Let us repeat one more thing: although we will post reminders via several communication channels (including the official ERC Facebook page), official news from us will always come by email.
Konrad Lippert, ERC Team Coordinator
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