FIRST Champs Invite - How do you manage growth of your FRC Program?

Good Morning CD,

I am writing this post to invite anyone attending this year’s FIRST Champs in St. Louis to stop by FRC 11’s pit and ask for Mr. B. to discuss how your team is managing program growth. I applied for a FIRST Champs Conference workshop on this topic but was denied so I figured the next best thing was to invite anyone interested in talking/exchanging ideas to stop by our pit and find me!

Here’s a quick overview of our program here at the Mt. Olive High School in Flanders, New Jersey - We have two FRC teams (11 & 193) - 54 students on FRC 193 and 92 students on FRC 11, which equates to 10% of our school’s student body involved in our FRC program. We added our MORT Beta team 193 in 2013 as an all freshman/1st year student experience and mentored by alumni of our program. We found too many freshman not being given the opportunity to engage in the FRC experience due to there not being enough work to go around. We’ve had great success with our model but I know there are many of you dealing with similar situations and are having your own successes and I would welcome the opportunity to speak with you in person to see how we all can help each other develop/support our programs. While I understand FIRST’s desire to support the new/rookie teams, I feel very strongly that there is little to no support from FIRST for teams such as ours. Every stage of FRC has it’s challenges and I’m looking to offer support to those of you experiencing growth challenges and also learn from you about some new approaches that I can implement with our program.

Continued success to everyone and I hope to meet some of you out in St. Louis!

If you aren’t attending FIRST Champs and want to contact me, please email me at

Dave Bodmer - a.k.a. - Mr. B.

Lead Advisor for FRC 11 & 193

I will be sure to do this or send someone over. I’m sad that you didn’t get a conference bid on this, as it sounds like a very great topic for all FIRST teams.

Mr. B.

I think you idea to involve more students actively in FRC is a great idea. For myself, I wonder about the finances for two teams as well as managing time for the two teams.

We have used our FTC program with 45 ninth and tenth graders on 4 teams to build towards FRC. We moved up 9 sophomores to FRC this year but use our FTC program as an introduction to FIRST. We even encouraged one team to design without using TETRIX as the base for their robot as much as possible this year. That team qualified for Champs as well for the PTC Design Award.

I look forward to visiting with you more at Champs about this idea.


Both 11 and 193 saw success on and off the field this year. I’m sure there is more to come at champs. :slight_smile:

I’d love to hear more about what makes both your Varsity and JV teams so competitive and how you run both simultaneously. If there is a presentation or any slide notes, I’d enjoy checking them out. I also have a few big questions for you:

-What’s the mentor/parent/alumni community like?
-What are the fund-raising strategies you employ to run two large teams?
-How do you maintain separation and balance resources between the teams so well?

I should be there to offer some words from the 3 RoboDawG teams, but my coaches would certainly know more about it than I would!

Given the mission of FIRST, this quite honestly sounds like a GREAT problem to have. I am very impressed with the few things you have mentioned in how you run two teams. You have to be doing so many things right to make that even possible.


Hi All,

Thanks for the posts and your questions! I wanted to take a quick moment to answer a few of the questions posted.

Our parent/mentor/alumni community is quite extensive. The mentors for our JV MORT Beta team are all MORT 11 Alumni who are now in industry and are now giving back to our program. It really allows our first year students with the opportunity to engage in the FRC experience and ask all types of questions of these mentors (career/FRC/MORT, etc.) It’s a safe environment vs. being placed with upper classmen where they might opt to be quiet and not ask their questions in front of their peers for fear of being wrong. Between the 2 teams we have 40+ mentors, our core parent support team is in the 25+ range and our alumni that aren’t involved with 193 help out when able with our 11 team.

In regards to fundraising, we have strong district & sponsor support for our teams. We also have two major team fundraisers (NJ State FLL Tournament and MAR District Event) that help us raise funds through concession sales. We have a highly dedicated team that their only focus for MORT is food concessions for these events and they do an awesome job for us. Between the two events, we are able to bring in over $25,000 for our teams.

As for separation of the two teams. We have three shops, plus other classrooms (Programming/CAD, etc.) we use at our school. Space at times can be a challenge due to our team size, but we work through those challenges and for the most part have a smooth operation. 193 works out of our Wood Shop and 11 works out of our Robotics Lab, we have a metal shop that is used by both teams throughout the build season and our teams work through scheduling the use of the tools without issue. Our two teams work independently of each other, but do offer assistance throughout the year as needed. Both teams work well together and understand that as a whole we are the MORT family who just happens to have two teams that build two separate robots.

I know one question I get asked often is why did we opt for FRC over FTC for our freshman students. We talked about the pros/cons of each and we felt that our program is FRC focused and the sooner we got our students engaged in the FRC world the better. We are looking to get our Robotics II courses engaged in FTC in 2014-2015 but that will be done during the academic day and will be separate from our FRC program.

If you’re attending FIRST Champs next week, feel free to swing by 11’s or 193’s pit to talk more about what we do and hopefully some of you can share your experiences with me and offer some new ideas or successes you may have!

Stay well,

Dave (Mr. B.)