FIRST Tech Challenge

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FIRST Tech Challenge
Current season, competition or edition:
Cascade Effect
FIRST Tech challenge logo.png
Formerly FIRST Vex Challenge
Sport Robotics-related games
Inaugural season 2005
Country International
Venue(s) Edward Jones Dome - St. Louis (world level), numerous smaller locations (state level)
Most recent champion(s) Inspire Award Winner:
Mexico 3141: Bears
Champion Teams:
United States 7013: Hot Wired Robotics
United States 5257: Eagles Robotics Xperience
United States 4240: Techno Clovers
TV partner(s) NASA TV
Related competitions FIRST Robotics Competition
FIRST Lego League
Junior FIRST Lego League
Founder Dean Kamen
Official website FTC

The FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC), formerly the FIRST Vex Challenge (FVC), is a robotics competition targeted toward middle and high school-aged students.[1] It offers the traditional challenge of a FIRST Robotics competition but with a more accessible and affordable robotics kit. The ultimate goal of FTC is to reach more young people with a lower-cost, more accessible opportunity to discover the excitement and rewards of science, technology, engineering and math.


The FIRST Tech Challenge grew out of the existing FIRST Robotics Competition and the IFI Robovation platform. FIRST, RadioShack, and Innovation First collaborated to develop an improved version of the IFI Robovation kit. The kit was significantly upgraded and called the Vex Robotics Design System. For the 2008 season Pitsco developed a platform that uses the NXT brick along with additional hardware and a new structural framework under the new name of TETRIX. Using aluminum parts that will allow participants to add Lego parts and sensors the kit includes 4 DC motors and larger wheels. In addition to hardware changes, the system may now be programmed using ROBOTC and LabVIEW.

In 2005-06, FIRST piloted the FIRST Vex Challenge as a potential program.[2] The pilot season brought together over 130 teams to compete in 6 regional tournaments[citation needed] in a 1/3 scale FIRST Frenzy: Raising the Bar.[3] Fifty teams participated in the FVC tournament at the FIRST Championship in April, 2006. On April 29, 2006 the FIRST Board of Directors voted to extend FVC for the 2006-2007 season.

In Summer 2007, after two seasons as the FIRST Vex Challenge, FIRST announced that the program would be renamed the FIRST Tech Challenge.


There is a new challenge every year, meaning there are new aspects to the game every season. However, games are always played on a 12' by 12' square/diamond field covered in rubberized floor tiles. The game is played by two alliances (red and blue) of two teams each, for a total of four robots on the field during each match. At the start of a match, the robots cannot exceed 18" in height, width or length, but can expand during play. In each match, there is an autonomous period followed by an operator-controlled period. Depending on the year, the autonomous period can range from 20 to 45 seconds (30 is the most common) and the operator period lasts 2 minutes.

Along with building and programming a robot, FTC teams are required to create an 'Engineering Notebook' that documents their build season and team experience.[4] It helps teams to reflect on positive and negative experiences and how to improve. It also shows the judges at tournaments what the teams have overcome throughout the year.


In September each year, FIRST announces the game challenge to FTC teams at Kickoff. Unlike FRC, there is no 'ship day' when the robot has to be finished; teams can work on their robots up to and during competitions.[5] Qualifying Tournaments and State Championships occur from October through March, and the World Championship is held in April.[6]


Official FTC events are Qualifying or Championship Tournaments; unofficial events are Scrimmage Tournaments. From Championship Tournaments, teams are invited to one of four Super-Regional Championship Tournaments (for US teams only) and then the World Championship based on predetermined advancement criteria. Qualifying Tournaments exist in areas with a large number of teams. Winners of Qualifying Tournaments are invited to Championship Tournaments and winners of Championship tournaments are invited to Super-Regional Tournaments.[7]

There are several ways for teams to qualify to compete in the FIRST Tech Challenge World Championship. Teams are automatically invited if they win the Inspire Award or are captain of the winning alliance at a Championship Tournament. Any remaining slots are given in order based on the predetermined qualifications below.[8]

Advancement Criteria
1. Qualifier Host Team
2. Inspire Award Winner
3. Winning Alliance Captain
4. Inspire 2nd place
5. Winning Alliance, 1st team selected
6. Inspire 3rd place
7. Winning Alliance, 2nd team selected
8. Think Award Winner
9. Finalist Alliance Captain
10. Connect Award Winner
11. Finalist Alliance, 1st team selected
12. Rockwell Collins Innovate Award Winner
13. Finalist Alliance, 2nd team selected
14. PTC Design Award Winner
15. Highest Ranked Team not previously advanced
16. Motivate Award Winner
17. Highest Ranked Team not previously advanced


The following are awards presented at official Championship and Qualifying Tournaments:[9]

For Teams
  • Inspire Award
  • Rockwell Collins Innovate Award
  • Motivate Award
  • Connect Award
  • Think Award
  • PTC Design Award
  • Control Award (piloted in 2013-2014)[10]
  • Promote Award
  • Winning Alliance Award
  • Finalist Alliance Award
For Individuals
  • Compass Award

Competition themes[edit]

In the past, the challenges have been based on several different themes:


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Start a Team". FIRST. Retrieved 5 June 2011. 
  2. ^ "Finding the Top Bot: High School Students (and Their Robots) Take the Prize at Tech Challenge". Scientific American. Retrieved 5 June 2011. 
  3. ^ "2005 Vex Field". Retrieved 10 April 2012. 
  4. ^ "Get Over It! Game Manual". FIRST. Retrieved 6 June 2011. 
  5. ^ "Making the move to FTC". FLL® Community Stories. Retrieved 6 June 2011. 
  6. ^ "2011- 2012 FTC Season Calendar". FIRST. Retrieved 6 June 2011. 
  7. ^
  8. ^ "Tournament Information". FIRST. Retrieved 6 June 2011. 
  9. ^ "2010-2011 FIRST® Tech Challenge Awards". FIRST. Retrieved 5 June 2011. 
  10. ^

External links[edit]