Geeks? Nerds? Actually, some team members wear those labels proudly! However, a competitive robotics environment has a lot to offer students with many different personalities and interests.
FIRST has several programs for different age groups. Right now, we are looking to start a FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) team which targets students in middle and high school. So, we are specifically looking for students who are 12-17 years old to join our new team.
At some point in the future, we may help start teams under FIRST Lego League (FLL) and FLL Jr, which targets younger students. FIRST also offers FIRST Robotics Challenge (FRC) which is exclusively for high school students, but we do not have plans for incorporating that program.
Interests & Team Roles
Most team members will identify as either a builder or a programmer. But, there are other skills that are a huge asset to any team! Even if you do not feel you have the mechanical inclination to be a builder, or the technical mind-set to learn programming, please look at the other roles and interests to see where you would fit in. Also note that team members often fill multiple roles on a team.
Builder/Designer: Team members with a mechanical inclination tend to land on the build team. They will use these skills to design components to accomplish game tasks, build prototypes and final robot assemblies, and then evaluate the performance of the robot and suggest enhancements.
CAD Designer: A CAD Designer is usually a builder who also has a technical aptitude, and already owns (or is willing to purchase) a computer that will run modern CAD programs. You can find a little more detail on the Benefits page.
Programmer: Other team members either know how to write code or want to learn, and are drawn to the programming team. Again, more detail can be found on the Benefits page.
Drive Team: FTC rules allow for 3 team members to be at the field during a match; two drivers can have a game controller each, and a drive coach will help guide their actions while keeping an eye on the whole field of play and the clock. A FTC match only lasts 2 mins and 30 secs, so these team members must be able to remain calm under pressure and trust each other.
Notebook Coordinator: At competition, teams must submit a notebook that will help judges grant awards. A FTC team would benefit greatly from a detail-oriented member who is willing to oversee the creation and maintenance of the notebook.
Business & Marketing: Few teams have members that specialize in this area, but a robotics team is an excellent opportunity for a student to grow business and marketing skills. Teams need a budget, short and long term financial planning, and they must establish and maintain relationships with sponsors and the community.
Photography & Video: Again, few teams have a member that is dedicated to photography and video, but this would be a huge asset to the team! We use photos to document our entire season. In addition, there are two FTC awards based upon video submissions.
Social Media/Blogger: A team member who periodically updates a team’s facebook page and/or website.
Internet Research: A lot of communication from FTC officials and between FTC teams takes place in online forums and in social media.
Joining a competitive robotics team is a serious commitment, and we want to make sure we do not sugar-coat it. The team will meet at least 2 or 3 times a week from September through February, and each meeting will last about 3 hours (see Season). Depending on a member’s role(s), they may also need to accomplish some tasks outside of meeting times. There will also be opportunities and commitments during the rest of the year, like outreach events, sponsor visits, fundraising, training opportunities, and team building.
However, if we receive a large enough response that includes both older and younger students, we may suggest younger students (maybe ages 12 & 13) consider being “Junior Members” with a smaller time commitment.