FRC as a California Career and Technical Education (CTE) class?

My team is trying to get a dedicated robotics section (class period) during the day. We managed it this year by just paying out of pocket, but we can’t afford that going forward. The most straightforward way to get access to funds for a class section from our district is to make robotics a CTE (Career and Technical Education) class. I’m facing a few problems with this and would love some input from more experienced mentors.

  1. I don’t have a CTE credential, and I started teaching straight out of college. Does mentoring FRC count towards the experience requirement? Do I have to start looking for summer internships?
    Here’s what I could find regarding this: “Applicants should have at least three years of verifiable work experience directly related to each industry sector named on the credential. One year must equal a minimum of 1000 clock hours. The experience may be full-time or part-time, paid or unpaid.”

  2. Adapting team curriculum and structure to fit a classroom environment:
    My team didn’t have involved adults until a few years ago. When they rebranded to The Boba Bots, there was a big shift in team culture towards making sure all kids could participate and sustainably passing on skills. Now, our student leadership writes/updates curriculum and teaches it to new members after school. They do the planning and project management for their individual departments. They pick the grants, outreach, activities, and projects that they want to do and execute it. The other mentors and I are there mostly for guidance and to make sure no one gets hurt.
    I have no idea how to adapt a culture like this to a classroom environment. I originally wanted the class to be just for leads and advanced members to work on leadership and mentoring skills (planning, writing curriculum, how to teach, advanced projects, etc.), but my principal isn’t having it. She says the class needs to be open to everyone, and doesn’t think that our Makerspace being open 15-20 hours a week after school fulfills that requirement…
    The kids learn so much from each other, I’m not sure I’d be able to teach enough to make sure people could meaningfully participate, especially when you start accounting for different skill/experience levels. Not all of my leads would be able to take the class because their schedules are already full. Having some super advanced members, some brand new members, and some kids that are just trying to fill a graduation requirement seems like a bit of a nightmare…

I should say, I have a Physics degree, not an Engineering degree. Teaching kids how to write a math equation that results in a complex shape is fine for me. Teaching kids how to make a complex shape in CAD is …rough…


Speaking from Michigan, you wouldn’t be able to just make one class and have that be enough. You would have to have an entire program that would run the full day to make it worth it.

I’m not sure how California’s system works, but here we would need to make it work within an existing code. I use FRC as my Vocational Drafting Career and Student Technical Organization (CTSO). It covers my requirement for students to compete or display their work with or against other schools/programs. Robotics is open to all students, but I need to have kids from my CAD classes participate to have it count.

What I have also found over the last few years is that the hurdles to get the money are getting harder and harder, and the money you receive is getting smaller and smaller. 10 years ago I had a $20k budget, now I do the same work with a $4k budget and more requirements to meet to make that happen.

For the Vocational certification, most states require recent and relevant work in the area you plan to teach. I worked for a few years as a CAD specialist and then paid a painful amount of money to “earn” the other half of my 3000 hours of experience required when I was certified.


@Michael_Corsetto and @Richard_McCann recently set up a new teacher in their existing CTE program and might know who could help you… Specifically I remember they used IT rather than Engineering for some reason.

@Seth_Mallory 192 runs student driven projects as the curriculum at Gunn, and might be able to connect you with the right people to talk about their CTE structure.

192 only ever ran 2 periods (total 50 students). No “full day” issues.

Yes, Steve Harvey has the information and curriculum needed to set up a CTE pathway that qualifies for UC/CSU credits.

@hionwind @hionwind1 I don’t have email for you but see above

Don’t know if exactly the same…but wondering if you have any insight


I’ll be back!
As a physics degree → physics teacher → FRC mentor → CTE credential person, I can provide some help. Just after school.


Some info on our classes can be found here: Courses - Citrus Circuits

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I can give lots of information, might be better to email some information from our former CTE program for Mechatronics and Java Programming.

For context these were my classes from summer 2017- summer 2022 school years for Michigan. I was teaching 2/3 time which meant I taught 4 out of 6 hours a day. Classes were “2 hours”. I didn’t have enough people to run a second Mechatronics or Java programming class (I was competing with Video Game Programming in the same school) and the CAD program already had the Construction Tech teacher. Not being fulltime was eventually what made me quit because it wasn’t sustainable on the 2/3 salary. You need a full day of classes.

There were multiple ways we incorporated FRC into the coursework, but it wasn’t exactly FRC as a class. There are Gap Analysis documents and Standards for every class that need to be met.

In addition each program would fall into a CIP (pronounced sip) code. These CIP codes determine what standards you followed and you were responsible to perform a yearly CIP self review. These had rules about Professional Development, Your Advisory Board, Articulation agreements, Safety Training, Work Based Learning, and Student Leadership (Hint FRC Counts!)

The link above is a fantastic resource for Michigan but many things can apply outside of Michigan as well.

Mechatronics Standards:
144201_Mechatronics_Consolidated_2011_701911_7.xlsx (83.7 KB)

Computer Programming Standards:
110201_Computer_Programming_Programmer_Consolidated_2011_701900_7.xlsx (64.5 KB)

Beyond this our team worked with our school board, superintendent and eventually got Michigan approval to give Graded Credit for High School students on the team for some requirements like attendance, graded assignments, etc. Each school was able to set additional requirements beyond what was set by the minimum curriculum standards. We got this idea because Marching Band is a class, if you do it all 4 years it counted towards a PE credit. Why shouldn’t robotics count as an extra science, math, or elective credit to count the students time and efforts.

Complete Navigating Implementation of High School Credit Packet.pdf (9.4 MB)

I’ve been there and done that (FRC during the school day). You can look up “Honors Robotics Team Project 3-4” on the UC A-G website for the course I wrote. If I had the chance to do it again, I probably wouldn’t.

FRC is a program that needs lots of time in a particular segment of the year, not a little bit of time continuously spread out over the whole year like a typical class.


We have established a CTE pathway where the capstone class is essentially what we do as a team. I’d be happy to share what we have done with you. My email is [email protected]


Would you be open to other people emailing you in regards to this as well? Even though we don’t have the courses anymore our district is looking at establishing a new building (with dedicated robotics usage) and robotics/maker space items in each building k-12 in the new Bond Proposal. Documentation that would help them keep the whole k-12 group on the same page would go a long way to making their efforts helpful to our team. Even if it’s a hypothetical pathway they could use should they bring the CTE classes back (they still haven’t found a replacement for me yet)

GRT is at Gunn High School. The school has 4 different engineering courses in the CTE program. The Engineering Technology that I am involved with has 2 sections and this gives the CTE teacher full schedule. The team is a after school club. The students have to be in the class for all the shop training. None of the other classes are a direct path to joining the team and many of our students have no experience in engineering before joining. If you see no response from me it is because I rarely am on Chief Delphi.

Yes, I will do my best to respond to anyone who would like more information.

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This is awesome!

We have something similar, as we offer 3 programs of study if students want to earn CTE credits doing Robotics.

  1. Advanced Manufacturing
  2. Engineering Technology
  3. Cultural Arts-Graphics Technology/Digital Media

The only difference between students doing it for credit or not, is the course work during the school day. Students who only come afterschool, don’t do it for credit.

Now I also employ students to fulfill “internship-work study” opportunities. Instead of working off-campus for someplace completely unrelated, they work in our Robotics center.

Steve, I’m interested in seeing what you have. Always willing to learn what others are doing.


What Mike sent you is what I put together as an overview of the three classes I created.

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Thanks! If I have more questions, I’ll reach out. Summer is when I look at crazy new ideas and changes to implement.:call_me_hand:

A lot of good stuff posted above! I’ll try to answer your first bullet point for the most part, but I’ll share ideas on the actual courses as well.

First off, here is the course adoption documents for my district’s Robotics 1 and 2 courses (Information & Communication Tech sector, Software & System Development pathway)

Bullet 1: Getting a CTE credential as a Physics Teacher

Background: I’ve been teaching physics for 20 years, and doing FRC for 14 (12 with 4276). I JUST got my CTE credential this summer.

The requirements were originally written for industry professionals transitioning to classroom teachers. Yes, the idea is each year is about 1000 hours of industry experience, but there is usually some flexibility. If you are already a fully credentialed classroom teacher, that counts for 1000 hours. The other 2 years/2000 hours can come from experience running an FRC team. You just need to word it correctly in your industry experience letter. The industry sector for my courses is Information & Communication Technologies. So I wrote about my experience using Onshape, Slack, and 3D printing software (all of which are in the course description) over the last several years. My principal signed off on the letter and I was good to go.

I was told by my department of education CTE advisor that it’s a good idea to apply for multiple CTE industry sectors credentials at once (so you only go through the process and take a course once). Since I didn’t know if I may do an engineering design course in the future, I applied for a Engineering & Architecture credential on the same application. I just added my experience solving engineering/physics problems, leading engineering discussions, etc. on my application letter as well.

My advice: talk to someone from your department of education on the phone. The Orange County Department of Education handles CTE credentialing paperwork and courses for a lot of regions in California.

Bullet 2: Trying to run FRC in a class period

Trying to cram FRC into a class period is never going to work. Creating a course that highlights some of the core components of FRC (design, manufacturing, programming, business… pick a couple and make a course!) is doable. CTE courses are supposed to build skills in a year-to-year sequence, so you really need an introduction to “robotics” for one year, then add more for the next. Regardless of how much you can cram into a class period, after school time will still be needed. So, might as well not try to cram it in.

My school offers “hybrid” periods (part in person, part at home), so I had my Robotics 1 course classified as hybrid, and we’d meet 1 day per week during our scheduled class period (7th this year). Then I counted the hours spent after school (M/W to 6:30pm) and on Saturdays (9-3) as “seat time” for the CTE requirements (300 hours over a two year pathway are required). This worked OK, but only for the kids who had already been on the robotics team last year. The new kids were lost, and it was hard to get them to stick around after school.

Next year my Robotics 1 course (approved for Honors credit) will focus on basics of programming (little drones, Arduinos, and VEX) and basics of computer-assisted fabrication (3D printing and some CNC). Robotics 2 will be built on that, using class time (not hybrid anymore) to work on planning for after school meetings and evaluating progress. The after school time will be pretty much what we do for fall training and off-season competition preparation.

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Although I am not sure I can be of much help with #1, we do have a FRC class period, “RIS” (robotics independent studies).

It is pass/fail and replaces our study hall period (so we don’t get any credit). As part of our offseason training, its main use is for onboarding and “basic” training of 1st year members.

I totally agree with this. RIS is just one part of our team’s curriculum. I am happy to include the presentation that we gave last week where we touched on its place. IMO (as a mechanical), the best part of RIS is having scheduled time in the shop during the build season and a quiet place to nap in post season.

However, we do have an “Engineering Design and Assembly” class that is basically just an FTC team (and is taught by one of our FRC mentors) and is UC approved “G” (I am not sure what this means, sorry). I can provide info on this if interested, or connect you with someone who knows more!