My First Build Session: A Postmortem


Overall to me it seems like things went well, though a number of things could have been improved on my part. Primary success comes from accomplishing the planned goal of helping people get further along with their club robots. Secondary success comes from having had a build session and people being interested in having another one.

It seems like the Friday after the meeting was a good time, but if First Friday falls on the same day, I could shift to the following Friday.

A few points I can think of to improve with:

  • Make sure the network name is listed on the WiFi password printout.
  • Better organize and make available my collection of electronics and robotics parts.
  • Provide more table space in the upstairs area.
  • Make tools more accessible for people interested in making parts.
  • Make sure to mention if snacks will be available and that a lot of fast food places are available within a short walk.
  • Make it clear how much table space is available and make sure that table space is completely clear.
  • Clear more space on the floor around any tables that will be used.
  • Begin cleaning and preparing space farther in advance so I am actually ready at start time.

For fixing the table space problem, I plan on making sure I can setup a temporary table with some chairs upstairs. My goal is to have have space for up to eight people total to sit down and work upstairs. I plan to look into providing table space in the basement that people can sit at so we have space to spill into if we unexpectedly get a lot of people. If I host during good warm weather, I will try to get some space in the back yard so we have more spillover space.

Food wise, my current plan is to not get snacks until requested because none of the planned snacks were used. I should make it clear that people are welcome to bring their own snacks. As a note: I have no problem making food given that the main build session table is in the kitchen, so everything is right there for making food. I would be fine getting a couple frozen cheese pizzas to cook if people plan to eat at the build session.

For the next meetup post I plan on putting a limit on people based on the amount of upstairs table space. More people are welcome, but anyone over the limit will end up in the basement or the back yard.

I would appreciate feedback from people who went or were thinking of going.


Mr. Stuart, thank you for hosting the build session. It was very nice to have someone new step forward and open their home to the club. It was also good to see someone build on the capabilities of their club robot.

The down side here is how much your family had to step aside, with the limited space available, for anyone to sit down with their gear, even worse during dinner hours at their kitchen table. It was very appreciated that they accommodated us all, but I don’t think it is fair for you or them to have to go so far out of the way for a few club members to get a chance to meet. It seems other members, that may have more room already available, should see your dedication and drive to keep the club active and open, and be inspired to join in the shared task of hosting.

Since it was understandably a significant task for you to set aside what space we did have to work within, and that space realistically was only enough for a couple of us to work on one robot by the time you unload and spread gear and parts, I would suggest you consider hosting or coordinating build sessions at either a public space or even an online meeting. There are lots of community places we could be approaching (I will stop short of mentioning them publicly online), and there are other compatible monthly meetups compatible with the task, such as the one we went to at the end of last month. Sure they are not at home, but you don’t have to spend a lot of time turning your household upside down. You could spend your time entirely on what you would like to be doing during the build session, then just show up.

As for the time of the session, if you can find a place that can accommodate at least 8 people with their robots, large or small, and their gear and computers, preferably in the same open space on one floor, the following Friday seems good. As we now know from last month, there is an open venue for the last Friday of the month already accessible if you wanted to take that on and coordinate meetings there (they even provide food and beverage).

Regarding food, people can take care of themselves. Making sure there is potable water is already code everywhere in 'merika. Beyond that, I would say a host shouldn’t feel obligated. If you want something, set it out. If not, don’t. Especially since there are usually lots more people saying they will show than do, which could be a lot of waste if you tried to have something for all. Do make it known that if anyone wants to bring something it would be cool or not and/or if they should plan on eating before they arrived, as it happened at your session.

Sorry, if it sounds like I am being picky. That is not my intent. I am merely appreciative of your efforts and conscious of how significant they are while concerned they cannot be fully actualized within the limitations. My goal here is to help redirect you to finding alternatives that will allow you to help bring the kind of experiences in the build sessions, such as those from past club members that you clearly remember fondly, to current members. Thanks again!