How to Start
The best way to learn about organizing a FIRST Tech Challenge Team is to experience it! Find a local team or two and follow their progress through a season. Attending an event is a good way to experience the program for yourself. And you can meet with team leaders and students, speak with their sponsors, and the robots first-hand.
Visit What events are in my area to search for events near you.
Once you're ready to start a team, you will need to form partnerships with team mentors and sponsors. Local manufacturing and technology companies are ideal candidates for this, as are local colleges, universities and technical schools. Many local chapters of professional organizations support FIRST through volunteer help from their engineers, scientists, and technologists.
Does the coach need to have a technical background?
A technical background is helpful, but not necessary. Learning alongside the team is expected. Coaches must be willing to acquire some basic knowledge of the programming environment and robot building. For additional assistance we encourage the coach to enlist the support of a technology mentor or guest speaker(s). A good resource for more information is NEMO (Non-Engineering Mentor Organization) at http://www.firstnemo.org.
What is the time commitment for an FTC coach?
You will need to arrive at your own optimum time commitment, but generally teams range from 3 to 6 hours per week, with additional weekend hours if needed around tournament season.
Is one coach enough?
A team of 4-5 kids can operate with only one coach. However, if you have the recommended number of students on your team (10), you will probably need some extra help. You may want to ask teachers, parents, or other volunteers in your area to help you run your team.
Are there any learning materials or training available?
Yes, the FTC Coach's Manual is a helpful resource for potential coaches to get an idea of how things worked during the 2009 season. More materials and resources are currently being developed.
Registration for the 2011-2012 is open as of noon on May 4th, 2011. Click here for registration and cost information.
Who can participate in FTC?
The FTC program is aimed at high school aged students, and is flexible enough in structure that a team can form within the school or home-school environment, as an after-school program, with a neighborhood group, or as part of any youth-based organization. There is no age limit placed on the team members but they cannot have already graduated from high school in order to participate.
How do I join a team in my area?
Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org, and Team Support will put you in touch with an Affiliate Partner or Regional Director in your area.
What is the usual team size?
A team may consist of 3 to 10 students. The small-team concept works well with this age group and encourages a closely knit team.
Last season, there were grants for rookie teams. Are those still available?
Returning team and rookie grants were for the 2008 season only. Growth Incentive grants were for the 2010 season.
Can I keep my team number from the prior season(s)?
Teams that competed in the prior season(s) will keep their team numbers.
Can I change my team number to match our FRC team?
No, we are unable to change the team numbers.
We are a new team, can we request a special team number?
No, the registration system will automatically assign the next sequentially available number to new teams.
Kickoff & Events
What is the Kickoff, and when is it?
The 2010 Kickoff will take place September 10, 2011, more information coming soon.
What is the yearly game challenge?
The challenge is the annual game that FTC reveals to its teams each September during Kickoff. Teams must determine their strategy and program, build, and test their robot. Working through the engineering process brings the reality of science and technology to students on a more intimate, hands-on level while instilling teamwork mores.
Can we use Vex parts with this year''s game?
Please see the Game Manual for any and all game specific questions. An updated manual for the 2010-2011 season will be available as soon as the new game is released in September.
Will there be an event in my area this year?
Affiliate Partners are in the planning stages of their events. As dates are confirmed the FTC staff will post information here.
What programming tools can be used in the 2011-2012 season?
Teams may choose to use either LabVIEW or ROBOTC when programing their robots. For the 2011-2012 season, software and a one-year license of LabVIEW will be included in all kit options.
Please note that ROBOTC will not be bundled in any of the 2011-2012 kits, but can be purchased directly from the CMU website at: ww.robotc.net/ftc.
A one-year renewal license for LabVIEW is available in the free FTC Software Renewal kit for returning teams.
Renewal licenses for ROBOTC must be purchased separately from CMU.