FIRST Tech Challenge
The FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) is designed for students in grades 7–12 to compete head to head, by designing, building, and programming a robot to compete in an alliance format against other teams. The robot kit is programmed using Java, the MIT App Inventor, or other Android programming systems. Teams, with the guidance of coaches, mentors and volunteers, are required to develop strategy and build robots based on innovative, sound engineering principles. Awards are given for the competition as well as for community outreach, design, and other real-world accomplishments.
|Current season, competition or edition:|
|Formerly||FIRST Vex Challenge|
|Founder||Dean Kamen & Woodie Flowers|
|Venue(s)||Detroit and Houston (world level), numerous smaller locations (qualifier and regional levels)|
|Inspire Award Winner Detroit:|
8393: The Giant Diencephalic BrainSTEM Robotics Team
Inspire Award Winner Houston:
9879: Root Negative One
Champion Teams Detroit:
11115: Gluten Free
10091: N.Y.A.N. Robotics - Not Your Average Nerds
Champion Teams Houston:
3101: Boom Bots
5064: Aperture Science
6547: Cobalt Colts
|TV partner(s)||NASA TV, Twitch.tv|
|FIRST Robotics Competition|
FIRST Lego League
FIRST Lego League Jr.
The FIRST Tech Challenge grew out of the existing FIRST Robotics Competition and the IFI Robovation platform. FIRST, RadioShack, and Innovation First collaborated to develop an improved version of the IFI Robovation kit. The kit was significantly upgraded and called the VEX Robotics Design System. For the 2008 season, Pitsco developed a platform that uses the NXT brick along with additional hardware and a new structural framework under the new name of TETRIX.
In 2005–06, FIRST piloted the FIRST Vex Challenge as a potential program. The pilot season brought together over 130 teams to compete in 6 regional tournaments in a 1/3 scale FIRST Frenzy: Raising the Bar. Fifty teams participated in the FVC tournament at the FIRST Championship in April, 2006. On April 29, 2006 the FIRST Board of Directors voted to extend FVC for the 2006–2007 season.
In Summer 2007, after two seasons as the FIRST Vex Challenge, FIRST announced that the program would be renamed the FIRST Tech Challenge.
Advancement from one level of competition to another in FIRST Tech Challenge can be achieved by either winning on the field (50%) or by winning the awards listed below during judging (50%). Judging at competitions is done through a multitude of ways such as team presentations, pit interviews, judges reading teams' engineering notebooks, etc.
Every year, in September, FIRST announces the game challenge to FTC teams at Kickoff. Unlike FRC, there is no 'ship day' when the robot has to be finished; teams can work on their robots up to and during competitions. This is done with the idea that, akin to real world scenarios, teams are afforded with the opportunity to test their creation "in the field", uncover problems, and repair those problems before the next competition. In the time between competitions, teams are encouraged to constantly better their robots. Qualifying Tournaments and Regional/State Championships occur from October through March. Teams are allowed to register for three Qualifying Tournaments. Some states, such as New Jersey, hold league meets that are more similar to sporting events. They are smaller and occur more often. For teams advancing from the United States, from the 2013-14 through the 2017–18, four Super-Regional Championship Tournaments have been held from March through early April, with the World Championships occurring in late April. Starting with the 2018-19 FTC season the Super Regional Championships will no longer occur and teams will advance from their local championships directly to one of the two World Championships in Houston or Detroit.
On competition days, the number of matches varies based on the number of teams competing. Matches are completely random in their order and alliances. During the matches, teams are assigned either red alliance or blue alliance. All parties involved in the match must choose their programs before the match begins. Drivers must not touch the gamepad controllers during the first part of the match, also known as the autonomous period. The next period is the driver-controlled period and the match is completely driver-controlled from then on. In the final 30 seconds of the match, drivers attempt to park in a point scoring zone and/or complete tasks that can only be done in the end game period of the match. The winning alliance receives two qualifying points while the losing alliance receives zero.
The core value that FIRST Tech Challenge promotes is embodied in the phrase "Gracious Professionalism." Showing gracious professionalism can be done in many ways, from helping another team, to simply having fun at competitions. The definition of this phrase is completely up to the person which is why it is one of the most important aspects of FTC.
Official FTC events are Qualifying or Championship Tournaments; unofficial events are Scrimmage Tournaments. Based on their performance in their Regional/State Championships (US) teams are invited to one of the World Championship based on predetermined advancement criteria. Winners of Qualifying Tournaments are invited to Championship Tournaments and until 2017-18 winners of Championship tournaments were then invited to Super-Regional Tournaments. After the winning alliances of the two championships are declared, they are invited to participate in the Festival of Champions in Manchester, New Hampshire to determine the FTC World Champion. On January 10, 2018, FTC announced that Super-Regionals will be abolished after the 2017-2018 season. Due to this, the number of FTC teams that attend each World Championship will be increased from 128 to 160 starting in 2019.
Teams advance from one level of competition to the next based on the advancement criteria laid out in the first part of that year's Game Manual. The Advancement criteria was changed for the 2015-2016 season to add criteria 7 "Winning Alliance, 2nd Team selected" and 13 "Finalist Alliance, 2nd Team selected," shifting the successive criteria down one position.
In addition to the Winning and Finalist Alliances receiving recognition for their field performance; the following list includes awards presented at official Championship and Qualifying Tournaments based on judging criterion including engineering notebook, team interview, observation, and/or field performance:
- Inspire Award: This award is generally given to teams who achieve greatness in all parts of FIRST including programming, robot design, the engineering notebook, judging presentations, gracious professionalism, and outreach. This team embodies what it is to be a FIRST robotics team and is a team that others can look up to as a role model. The Inspire Award is the highest ranked award as it embodies all other awards inside of it and allows a direct bid to the next level of competition.
- Think Award: The winning team of this award clearly displays their engineering and design process in their engineering notebook. This award honors the team who had an engineering section of their engineering notebook that clearly displayed the mathematics, science, and design process that went into the building of their robot.
- Connect Award: This award is granted to the team that most connects to their engineering community outside of FIRST by sharing who they are, what FIRST is, and how others can become involved. On top of that, this team's engineering notebook shows that they have a clear fundraising, business, and outreach plan that they will follow throughout the season.
- Rockwell Collins Innovate Award: This award is given to the team with the most innovative and creative robot design. This robot must work in a consistent manner but does not need to perform well in every round to be eligible for this award.
- Design Award: This award focuses on the design aspect of the robot. The team winning this award must show a thoughtful design on their robot that is both functional and aesthetic. The robot must distinguish itself from other competitors by showing off its unique design. This design can be shown both on the competition field and in the engineering notebook through sketches, blueprints, photos, and computer-aided design (CAD). CAD helps teams plan and create robots before actually building the robot in person.
- Motivate Award: The winning team of this award exemplifies what it means to be a FIRST team. This team works together by showing gracious professionalism at competitions and by recruiting and assisting other teams and members at home.
- Control Award: This programming centered award commends the team that had the best use of unique programs and successful sensors used in their rounds. This team's engineering notebook must have had a very detailed in explaining their implementation of software, sensors, and mechanical control.
In the past, the challenges have been based on several different themes:
- 2019-2020: Skystone
- 2018-2019: Rover Ruckus
- 2017–2018: Relic Recovery
- 2016–2017: Velocity Vortex
- 2015–2016: RES-Q
- 2014–2015: Cascade Effect
- 2013–2014: Block Party!
- 2012–2013: Ring It Up!
- 2011–2012: Bowled Over!
- 2010–2011: Get Over It!
- 2009–2010: Hot Shot!
- 2008–2009: Face Off
- 2007–2008: Quad Quandary
- 2006–2007: Hangin'-A-Round
- 2005–2006: Half-Pipe Hustle
- "FIRST Tech Challenge Game and Season Info". September 8, 2018. Retrieved December 2, 2018.
- "Finding the Top Bot: High School Students (and Their Robots) Take the Prize at Tech Challenge". Scientific American. Retrieved 5 June 2011.
- "2005 Vex Field". chiefdelphi.com. Retrieved 10 April 2012.
- "FIRST® Announces 'Game-Changing' Technology Platform for use in Worldwide Student Robotics Competitions". Retrieved 15 January 2016.
- "Making the move to FTC". FLL® Community Stories. Retrieved 6 June 2011.
- "Event Types". FIRST. 2015-10-30. Retrieved 2018-10-30.
- "2011- 2012 FTC Season Calendar". FIRST. Retrieved 6 June 2011.
- "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-11-02. Retrieved 2013-08-29.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
- "Super Regionals - Then and Now". Retrieved 2018-01-14.
- "Game Manual Part 1" (PDF). FIRST. Retrieved 4 December 2016.
- "Game Manual Part 1" (PDF). FIRST. Retrieved 26 February 2019.