First Tech Challenge (FTC)


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First Tech Challenge FAQ

  •  What is FIRST Tech Challenge?

    FIRST Tech Challenge teams (10+ members, grades 7-12) are challenged to design, build, program, and operate robots to compete in a head-to-head challenge in an alliance format. Participants call it “the hardest fun you’ll ever have!” Guided by adult Coaches and Mentors, students develop STEM skills and practice engineering principles (like keeping an engineering notebook), while realizing the value of hard work, innovation, and sharing ideas. The robot kit is reusable from year-to-year and can be programmed using a variety of languages, including Java. Teams also must raise funds, design and market their team brand, and do community outreach for which they can win awards. Participants have access to tens of millions of dollars in college scholarships. Each season concludes with Super-Regional Championships and an exciting FIRST Championship.

  •  Impact

    The positive impact on FIRST Tech Challenge participants is gratifying and well documented. Over 86% have more interest in doing well in school and 87% are more interested in attending college. View impact resources. 

    2016 FIRST Tech Challenge Impact Infographic

    FIRST Tech Challenge teams get to: 

    • Design, build, and program robots

    • Apply real-world math and science concepts

    • Develop problem-solving, collaboration, and team-building skills

    • Build and become strong leaders

    • Understand and practice Gracious Professionalism™

    • Cooperate and compete in alliances at tournaments

    • Compete for awards on and off the field

    • Participate in a tiered competition that culminates at the FIRST Championship

    • Qualify for millions of dollars in college scholarships

    • Have fun!

 Team Basics


The really cool thing about FIRST Tech Challenge is being part of a team. All skill levels are welcomed and needed, technical and non-technical. Read on for more about team basics, time frame, commitment, and skills required.

What does every FIRST Tech Challenge team need?

  • 2 or more adult Mentors who are willing and motivated to coach the team through the build and competition season, and beyond!

  • Other adults can volunteer to help with administration, fundraising, community outreach, technical advising, and other tasks.

  • A suitable meeting place and space to design and build a robot about the size of a microwave oven.

  • A standard kit of robot parts and a common set of game and robot rules issued by FIRST Tech Challenge.

  • A budget and a fundraising plan.

  • The desire to learn, explore, strategize, build camaraderie, share ideas and talents, make new friends, be accepted, and HAVE FUN!

When does FIRST Tech Challenge happen?

The FIRST® Tech Challenge season starts in May, when teams generally form and registration opens. Season kick-off is in early September when the season’s game is announced. The design and build season runs from September to January.Tournament season varies by region and can begin as early as October and continues through April. State and Regional Tournaments advance teams to Super-Regional Championship Tournaments, and winners earn spots at FIRST Championship at the end of April. There are also many off-season events where teams participate, strategize, hone their skills, learn new technology, meet other teams, and have fun!

What is the time commitment?

Mentors or adult Volunteers meet with their team at least once per week during the build and competition season (September – April). Many mature teams also meet throughout the school year, and some compete in off-season events during the summer. You, your family, and your available free time can decide together how much time you can devote to the program.

As a team member, the same applies. Students meet at least once per week from Mid-September through April. Like any sport or other after-school activity, the more time you invest, the better you will become at your task(s).

Any special skills required?

All skill levels are welcomed and needed, technical and non-technical. Teams need all kinds of skills to succeed, so what are you good at? Chances are we have a job for you. And we’ll probably teach you a few new ones while you’re with us.

Student and adult team members are encouraged to bring any skills they already have, like programming, electronics, metalworking, graphic design, web creation, public speaking, videography, and many more. FIRST Tech Challenge welcomes every student, with or without special skills.