Cultural differences between FTC and FRC

We are starting an FTC team this year. I’ve been a mentor in FRC for 7 years now, and though I’ve “checked out” FTC from time to time, I haven’t done more than watch a few matches and walk through the pits at worlds. (4 years ago)

We have a mechanical engineer that’s going to lead the build. So I’m not too worried about that part, there seems to lots of info on it. But, I’m going to try to help with “everything else”. So, my question is, what is “everything else”? :rofl:

Are FTC teams typically run basically like FRC teams with smaller robots? Do they do pins for the pits? Dance during breaks? Are there lots of things (outside of mechanical) for students of larger teams to do? (Media, website, awards, scouting)

I have no idea yet how many students we might have. (But I’m hopeful)

My instinct is to run it more like the FRC team, but I’m not sure if teams do the same basic stuff or not. I don’t want to focus on areas that are simply not present in FTC.

Where would I find the most information on this sort of stuff? CD is very active with FRC, but far less with FTC. It’s there somewhere more active?

So, as someone with experience helping to run a FRC team, but absolutely no experience with FTC, what do you think I need to know?

The fun thing about FTC is that beyond the “stuffy stuff”, which I’m certain others will get to, you can treat it pretty closely to FRC if you want. Make buttons! Make a Website! Scout! You are allowed to make your team culture the way you want, so take the best of what you already know and apply it.

If you know how to run an FRC team, start by running it like an FRC team and iterate on the process from there.

Engineering Notebooks are probably the biggest thing that will be different for your students, as they need to consistently write through their thought processes as the season progresses. It’s important the precedent that it’s important to upkeep this in a clean manner.

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Coach of 3 jr high FTC teams here, we run very similar to how our FRC team operates on the robot side. Getting the kids active on the notebook/presentation side is a little tough.

For all things FTC, game manual zero is pretty comprehensive.

The FTC discord is the most active resource currently. One thing I’ve noticed is that generally, there is a pretty negative stigma to adult involvement in the FTC environment (at least among the community that frequents the FTC discord).

Indiana is a bit smaller, but teams still set up pit displays and have giveaways at our later events (league champs/state).

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The answer to that question is both “yes” and “no”. “Yes” for all the reasons that the answers above have noted, since much of FTC does operate similarly to FRC. “No” because there really isn’t such a thing as a large team in FTC, at least not the way FRC has them. Team size is limited by FIRST to 15 members in FTC, which is fairly small by FRC standards. With that few members, it’s unlikely that you’ll have to work too hard to have things for everyone to do.

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@Trying_to_Help pinging you on this since I figure you’d have some good insight after this year.

100% here with a few exceptions. In my experience the super engaged that frequents the FTC Discord seem to have an extremely negative view towards both mentors being more than a vassal that allow the students to meet and also that alumni are not nearly as welcomed or embraced as is in FRC. IMHO this is a huge factor holding FTC back from continued sustainability that FRC has especially when it comes to alumni starting and mentoring their own teams and makes it closer to FLL where teams come and go after a few years.

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I guess you’re right :sweat_smile: With only 15, now in wondering how to get everything done. :pensive:

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FTC can be as much like FRC as you make it. On the field, the robots have very similar design processes, and off the field, team image is still a strong component.

There are comments about a negative stigma towards mentors in the FTC discord and in the community as a whole, but this is mainly due to the lower number of students on a team/less focus on sustainability. There are plenty of teams with high alumni involvement that are still successful and very sustainable (7244, 8393, 8644).

My two cents is to start one or two FTC teams. FTC helped prepare our team for FRC, along with being a fun competition with robot complexity on par with FRC. It also looks good for outreach (2412 Starting 16750 played a big role in winning Chairmans at District Champs)

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The engineering notebook isn’t really a thing anymore as the judges now judge a 15 page maximum engineering portfolio instead of the 100+ page notebooks.

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Having mentored both, here are my observations:

  1. With the longer season, there is more opportunity to prototype and iterate. This is great but can be a trap that the students wait too long to select their final design. Set deadlines and then remind the team on a weekly basis about the upcoming milestones.

  2. The robots tend to be built using the various building systems rather than cutting raw metal. Get familiar with the building systems (Tetrix, Actobotics, GoBilda) and try to select one and stick with it. It is not easy to mix and match.

  3. 3D printing is a very good option for FTC. You don’t generally need a lot of strength so you can make a lot of stuff out of pretty basic 3D printing materials (nothing fancy).

  4. Mechanum is good.

  5. The sizing cube is a lot smaller than it looks. Careful planning is needed if you are going to try to cram a lot of capabilities in that box.

  6. The competitions are shorter and quieter. 5 qual matches and no dancing during breaks. Generally no music and not as much commotion.

  7. The matches are less intense as there is generally very little robot to robot interaction, and with only 4 robots on the field each robot is kinda doing their own thing. This makes it easier to follow the match but it also feels slower.

  8. The interview is important. All students on the team are part of the interview and they all speak. Practice a bit to get the timing down and make sure the students are knowledgeable about their part.

  9. Get a practice field. It is small enough to have in a classroom and the students will really benefit from working out their auto routine on a real field.

  10. Auto is a bigger deal. It is 30 seconds and there are generally a lot of points available. A team that does not score well in auto has a hard time making up for it in teleop. This varies by game, of course, but that has been the trend in most recent games.

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