Building Robots at School

September 15, 2008

Finding FTC — Where to pay? Where to play?

Filed under: FTC,Robotics Competitions — dtengineering @ 2:32 am

I’ve been asked a few times now about the costs of the FIRST Tech Challenge program, and when and where the tournaments will be held.  I can understand that there is a bit of confusion to someone new to robotics competitions, so here are some places to look:

What does it cost to play FTC for 2008?  Look here.  In short the answer is $275 USD for registration and $900 USD for the new kit of parts.  This kit of parts (KOP in acronym land) should be reusable from year-to-year.  There are also grants available to teams returning from last year, and a limited number of rookie team grants to help cover the cost of purchasing the KOP.  At $450 each, the grants are substantial, and definitely worth looking in to.  (Hint… read that link, above.)

FIRST works on a program of regional affiliates… you can kind of think of these as “non-profit franchises”.  Just like McDonalds restaurants are often locally-owned and operated franchises, but with central control of product and quality, this ensures that FIRST offers local support, but a uniformly high quality of competition around the world.  For teams in BC, the regional affiliate partner is the BC Original Minds Association (BCOMA).  Their web site is http://www.fllbc.org  Look under “registration” for how to get signed up for their FIRST Tech Challenge Event, scheduled for January 10 at BCIT in Burnaby.

Other FTC events can be found in Seattle (they have a great write up on getting involved in FTC) and through the FIRST web site.  This list will be updated throughout the fall, but at present the only Canadian competitions I am aware of outside of BC are in Ontario.  Check out FIRST Robotics Canada’s website for more information on what is happening “back east”.

FTC is a great program, backed by some great people.  It can sometimes seem a little intimidating to get signed up and registerested, and sometimes at first glance the fees can seem a bit high.  I can assure you that using TIMS (the “Team Information Management System”) gets easier, and that FIRST works hard… and succeeds… at delivering good value for your money.

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