What is FTC?
FTC, or FIRST Tech Challenge, is a robotics competition for grades 7-12. In FTC, there are several parts to the challenge. First, the robot side, which includes designing and building a robot, and programming that robot to address the years challenge. During each match there are four robots competing, two robots per alliance. Each match is a total of 2 1/2 minutes in length. Each match begins with a thirty second autonomous period, where there is no driver interaction, meaning whatever the robot does is preprogrammed. After the thirty seconds is over, the two minute driver operated period begins. The last thirty seconds of the driver operated period is called the end game. During the end game, there are specific tasks that can only be done during this time. This is also when robots are able to get into position to score points when the match ends. The second part involves keeping an engineering notebook. The engineering notebook is where we document what the team does at weekly meetings, brainstorming and design ideas, and the design process, as well as challenges encountered and how the team overcame them. The notebook should also include information on the team, and a business or strategic plan. The last part is the presentation. The presentation allows you to tell judges about your team, and what outreach programs you may do in your community. During the presentation, you are able to showcase what is special about your team and your robot. This information proves to be helpful in being considered for, and hopefully getting, different awards. Some of the awards include things like the Think Award where students remove engineering obstacles through creative thinking, and may include having a unique piece on your robot to help you conquer an obstacle. The Inspire Award is an all over award for a team that truly embodied the ‘challenge’ of the FIRST Tech Challenge program.
The 2016-2017 challenge is Velocity Vortex. The field includes ramps on either side of the field, beacons, a center vortex with alliance specific vortexes, particles or small balls, and cap balls or large balls. Robots can score points by pushing particles up the ramps and through small goals at the top, trigger the beacons by pressing the correct button to fully light the beacon with their alliance's color, shooting particles through the center vortexes, and then in the end game the robots are challenged to lift the cap balls to different heights for different amounts of points, or have the cap ball placed on the correct center vortex.
The Challenge began on September 10th and the competitions roughly begin during the month of December for our region.