Start an FTC Team

MDFTC-20120225-DSC-1603Anyone can start a FIRST Tech Challenge team. Teams may be made up of neighborhood groups, school groups, home school organizations, Girl Scouts or Boy Scouts, family members, and after school programs.

If you don't already have an FTC team at your school or organization, the best way to get involved is to form a new FTC team. Existing FTC teams rarely seek or accept new team members from outside simply because they often find eager new members within their own organizations. Please note: FIRST and their representatives do not create the teams, or place children onto teams.

Your best starting point is the FIRST website's page on Starting a Team. Here are some suggestions to get going:

Steps to Form a Team

  • Identify one or more adults (18 or older) as coaches/mentors. An adult can coach multiple teams. Coaches don't need robot or technical experience, but do need to be good organizers and facilitators to keep the team on track.
  • Recruit 3-10 kids; 6-10 kids is an optimal number for many teams, but there is no limit to team size; at some events we retrict teams to no more than 10 members in the pits at one time. Team members must be 18 or under on January 1 of the year the season begins to participate. FTC suggests kids be at least 12 years old, but there's no restriction -- a younger child can join a team if you think he or she has the ability and attention span to stay involved. An individual child can be on only one FTC team per season.
  • Register the team with FIRST. Registration opens in May and stays open thoughout the season, but it's best to register before October to ensure you get the robot kit in a timely manner.
  • Select a meeting place and facilitate regular meetings.  FTC teams can meet anywhere. Teams typically meet one or two times per week for up to two hours from September - February, often more frequently as they approach a tournament. Some teams prepare a full practice field, but many teams simply make some of the field components for each season's game.
  • Register for a Maryland FTC Qualifying tournament. Maryland FTC holds multiple Qualifiers around the state in December and January.  Registration for each Maryland Qualifier is $150 per team, but there is no additional charge for the Maryland FTC Championship.  We encourage teams to attend more than one Qualifier to test and improve their robot and game strategies.  Registration opens by early November. Top teams at each Qualifier earn the right to compete at the 32-team Maryland FTC Championship in February.

Costs

A general estimate of costs for a new team is $1500-2500 (including the reusable robot kit), and $500-1500 for returning teams. The variable is the cost of extras such as additional parts, pit tools, shirts, travel, etc. The FTC Registration Information page has detailed information on registration and product costs.

Ideas for covering the costs vary from team to team. Some teams are funded by their school or organization, some find community or business sponsors, some charge for each kid to join, others do local fund-raisers, and some do all of the above. Part of the challenge of FTC is to decide what methods work best for your team.

Robot Kits

Registered teams can purchase an FTC Kit of Parts, which typically consists of the Tetrix Base Set and recommended Resource Kit, a LEGO Mindstorms Controller, and Samantha Module Wifi connectivity to the FTC control system. You will need access to a PC or Mac to run the software.