We know that Cal Poly SLO has an active radio club. CSUN used to have an active club. There are probably other campuses nearby that have some degree of radio activity (e.g., is anything happening at our community college partners?).

Since one of our goals is to cultivate a local radio community that is younger and more diverse than typical amateur radio clubs, it would make sense to reach out to other school-centered clubs and explore ways to raise the level of activity for all of us.

Here are two thoughts I’ve had about what we might do.

A SOTA Challenge

Challenge another club in a race to accumulate Summit on the Air points. The points can be aggregated into one big total, across Activators, Chasers, and modes. The points could be disaggregated with categories of competition. Who cares how it’s organized. What matters is that a contest gives the clubs a way to stay in communication and cajole one another into being active.

A SOTA Challenge would also create a context for clubs to meet together to share SOTA stories and techniques, compare kits, talk about other radio-related things, and give out awards for the competition. Meetings would give students from different schools a chance to interact, and it would give the employee leaders a chance to do the same.

The host of these meetings might invite local stakeholders (e.g., disaster response) to attend and share how the SOTA skills translate into skills that aid the public in times of need. There might be an opportunity to have members of local amateur radio clubs attend to thank them for acting as Chasers and elmers to the individuals in the competition.

A SOTA challenge could be an annual effort where some awards for a given year could be based on levels of acheivement from the previous year. The more I write about this, the more I like it.

The award meetings would also be a perfect setting for a micro Field Day.

MicroField Days on Campuses

During the pandemic, a group of hams in Ventura County started organizing ‘micro field days’. These were informal events, separate from any contests or expectations of any kind, where hams got together to set up and test their field kits, talk with one another, and be visible to the public.

Local college clubs could organize something similar on their campuses. Each semester or quarter, one campus could host the others for a micro field day. Student hams could bring their kits, from handhelds to battery-powered base stations, and set them up in an unfamiliar environment.

There could also be some programming, perhaps. A session of hints and tricks that might be interesting to everyone. A session on ‘what you could do if you had the next license’, too. A session on how to prepare for an exam. A session from club leaders on how the club is developing or sustaining relationships with local stakeholders (e.g., emergency response, secondary and primary schools, amateur radio clubs). Members of local clubs could be invited to participate, though maybe not invited to set up their kits; that might overwhelm students. An invitation could be sent to local secondary schools (high schools and middle schools).

During the event, the host campus could show off its radio room. The host might also reach out for sponsorship from local companies that benefit from amateur radio.