What’s Involved?

You’ll need professional engineers, adult mentors, high school aged students, sponsorship, a meeting place, access to tools and free time during the build and competition season.  Check out the basics needed below and contact Bert Abrahamzon (babrahamzon@firstinspires.org), FIRST Senior Mentor, to discuss details on how to get started.

What’s Needed?

  • 2-3 professional engineers – these Volunteers will guide your students through the engineering challenges inherent in the design and construction of a working robot.
  • 2-3 additional adults – these Volunteers will handle everything else: organization and communication with FIRST; registration; fund raising; shipping; and travel arrangements. As your team matures, you may want more adults to help with website design, community outreach, book keeping, animation, special projects, etc.
  • 15 or more high-school-aged students – as your team matures, you may find room for more students. More students will make it possible to participate in more aspects of the FIRST experience.
  • Financial Sponsors – the 2013 registration fee, which includes the Kit of Parts and participation in at least one competition event, is $5,000 for veteran teams who reuse elements from prior year Kits of Parts and $6,500 for rookie teams. Teams may register for additional events at $4,000 each. Additional Pricing Structure info can be found here. Most teams budget funds to purchase additional materials for their robot, to transport team members and equipment to events, to create team t-shirts, etc.
  • A meeting place – to design, build, program, and test a working robot, teams need access to a machine shop, enough room to practice the game challenge, and secure storage space.
  • Tools – students will be designing and creating a working robot. You will need hand tools, power tools, and access to machine tools.
  • Time – the minimum commitment would be to meet with your team several times a week from mid- December to the end of April. Many mature teams meet throughout the School year and some compete in off- season events during the summer.

Steps To Start A Team

STEP #1: Learn about the FTC experience
Connect with your local Affiliate Partner to learn the ins and outs of FTC.  They will help you understand all the requirements for starting a team and can fill you in on what to expect during your Team’s rookie year.  If possible, attend an FTC event in your area.  This will give you a good idea of what to expect and they are always free and open to the public.
Another useful tool is the Season Timeline.  This will help you plan your season and know when your team should meet certain benchmarks.

STEP #2: Enlist Coaches/Mentors

In the FIRST Tech Challenge the terms Coach and Mentor are used interchangeably to describe an adult team member who leads students by example.  Mentors are expected to practice Gracious Professionalism™ and act as positive role models for the team.  A technical background is helpful, but not necessary. Learning alongside the team is expected.  Coaches must acquire some basic knowledge of the programming environment and robot building.  Non-technical mentors can utilize the Non-Engineering Mentor Organization website for support groups and information.  View the Mentor Guide for a full description of this role!

To find additional or technical Mentors for your team, contact high schools, colleges, chambers of commerce and technology companies in your area.  Your local Affiliate Partner will also have connections and is a good resource for networking with the right people.
Each team needs at least one coach or mentor over the age of 18 to register.

STEP #3: Build your Team
Teams are made up of students who are ready to take on the challenges of high school level Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics concepts and apply them to robotics.  A team of 3-10 members is recommended.

STEP #4: Register your Team
Once you’ve visited events, enlisted Mentors/Coaches and built your team, it’s time to register your team.  Visit the Registration page for details on cost, budgeting and instructions on how to register your team.