Becoming FTAA

Hi,
How could I start down the path to becoming an FTAA in the Northeast region? It seems like a fun job, and I have experience with computers and server management.

Thanks in advance,
Owen

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I don’t know specifically the volunteer situation in NE. It’s possible if they’re short on FTAAs and you have some technical experience that you can just sign up to volunteer and take the training and you’ll be good.

If not, you can try to “climb the ranks” of volunteering so to speak. Other roles like CSA, scorekeeper, and field manager* all have responsibilities that somewhat overlap with those of the FTAA. You can start in those positions to get acquainted with how the competition is run and eventually end up as an FTAA.

In any case, you probably want to talk to your local Volunteer Coordinator to let them know your desire and ask what they need.

 
* Note: this isn’t to say that those roles are less important than FTAA, just other roles that may be open for you to start in

I’d add that volunteering in FTAA or CSA positions at off-season events is a good way to get started.
Off-seasons usually need the help, you’ll network, so to speak, with some of the regular season key volunteers, and get training and experience in the positions.

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The best bet is to ask the local VC’s, FTA’s, or FTAA’s! By letting them know you’re interested, you can find out if they have a need for that position, and how they want you to show them you’re ready for it. Volunteering in other roles can help. CSA will help show you’re familiar with the control system, and it’ll put you in a position to interact with the FTA’s and FTAA’s in resolving issues for teams on a regular basis. Score Keeper works a lot with the FTA’s and FTAA’s in running the actual field. Inspecting can help familiarize you with all of the different ways robots fall apart and fail on the field, from a slightly different perspective than a CSA might have.

I’ve seen people in all of these roles make the transition to FTAA, and from there to FTA. In addition to showing you know the technical side of the job, these positions (especially CSA/inspector) can help show your soft skills, aka your ability to work well with the students and with the other volunteers. Show that you have both the technical and soft skills, and moving you into an FTAA roll should be a no brainer.

Like Mark said, volunteering at Offseason events is definitely your best bet to get experience as an FTAA as soon as possible. I compete in NYC but often head to NE to volunteer. In 2015 I was scorekeeper for the first time at the DCMP under a very experienced scorekeeper and this year I decided to FTAA for the first time at Battlecry under 2 very experienced FTAs that made sure I excelled and learned a lot along the way. Offseasons are a lot of fun too as they tend to be easier (teams have been connecting to the field all season long). Best of luck!

All of these replies are spot on. The other resource you should look at is the FTAA Role Description on the FIRST Website. It lists the specific requirements needed, including these 3:

  • FIRST experience required; Understanding of event match cycles recommended
  • Must be post-high school or equivalent (minimum age of 19 at time of service)
    • Exceptions may be granted by event Volunteer Coordinators after review and approval by FIRST Headquarters
  • Familiarity or willingness to become familiar with the robot control system, robot diagnostic tools, robot wiring guidelines, Driver Station software, and Windows Networking settings

Thank you all for your in-depth responses! I’m going to talk to the Operational Partner and figure out my next step.

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