[FRC Blog] Virtual Kit 2021

Posted on the FRC Blog , 11/06/2020 Virtual Kit 2021 | FIRST

Virtual Kit 2021

Written by Kate Pilotte, Sr. Kit of Parts Manager

In a year just like any other year… wait, nope.

In a year where norms are out the window, we’ve decided release information about what y’all can expect in the 2021 Virtual Kit of Parts. Maybe this is some helpful incentive for still undecided teams?

Please do us a solid though… these organizations aren’t expecting y’all to engage with their donations until the Virtual Kit go-live date of 11/19/20, so please don’t reach out to see if you can get their donation beforehand. We offer this information now so y’all can preview what will be available, do some research, and better prioritize once the Virtual Kit is live (we so appreciate your patience!).

Here’s a list of organizations supporting the 2021 Virtual Kit and what they’re offering teams.

As stated above, all but one of these items go-live on 11/19/20 at noon (eastern). At that point, details and instructions will be posted in the Virtual Kit section of the Kit of Parts webpage (also most are included in the 2021 Virtual Kit Catalog in each Kickoff Kit), and any necessary codes will be populated in paid teams’ registration accounts. So, this means your team must have indicated that you’re participating in the 2021 season and secured payment (grants count!) to have access to these items. To indicate you are participating, follow these instructions.

Our gratitude to these and all the 2021 donors who stepped up to meet this season’s needs. They love to hear from you, so please consider thanking them or showing them how you’re using their products in your social channels.

Happy November!


lets goooooooooo 1 whole copy thank u so much adobe being so generous


While I agree it’s slightly underwhelming and a single license may not be very beneficial for some teams, I don’t think the sarcasm is called for. 1 > 0


Does anyone know what the duration of the licenses for the PTC software is, specifically MathCAD?

Thank you to all the Virtual Kit 2021 sponsors! This is great! Also, Fusion on chromebooks is BIG news! I am anxiously awaiting to hear from someone how well this works. I don’t have a chromebook to test it on.

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I got it to work using a user agent switching extension. As far as I can tell, it’s basically doing a remote desktop to some Autodesk server running Windows. It’s a bit slow, but it’s definitely better than nothing. Not totally sure why it’s artificially limited to Chromebooks right now - it’s working fine for me on Firefox on Linux - but it’ll definitely do the job if you’re stuck with Chromebooks and you’re dead set on Fusion for your team.

Edit: It’s also not totally sandboxed… I guess those looking for programming on Chromebooks will be happy too!


I’m not sure if it’s specific to them, but Onshape (also a PTC product through acquisition) makes us re-up the education account each year.

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I don’t know about your team, but mine has been fighting off buying a single license for a few years now. Money has been quite tight, so the $30/mo after the first year was an expense we were really juggling with. So I’m incredibly happy with that donation.


Echoing positive and negative comments from earlier posters:

  • It’s great when any company is willing to donate to FIRST teams
  • Donating one copy of software isn’t very practical for team use

With Tableau just donating one copy and for a license term of less than a year makes it pretty unusable for us. Luckily, Tableau Public is available to all and we aren’t worried if others happen to have access to our scouting. Thus, we use Tableau.

On the other hand, Mastercam provides only one copy and doesn’t have a public version so we find that it doesn’t make much sense to try to use in the team environment. It’s inconvenient to use and very difficult to teach if it’s only on one team laptop. We don’t use Mastercam.

Great to see Adobe joining the virtual kit, but with just one copy of Creative Cloud, I don’t see how we would adopt it for the team.

For those teams who consider themselves successful at using virtual kit software where only one copy is provided, how are you using it? How/where do you install it? How do students, teachers, and mentors get access to it? Do you schedule access or just manage needs on the fly? For those who use or anticipate using just one team copy of Adobe Creative Cloud, do you have any responses to these questions specific to Creative Cloud?

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I’m not a big fan of celebrating a company who does not allow you to own the software you buy, and of one who locks you into yearly contracts with no alternatives despite pulling billions in profit yearly.

I’m sorry to hear about your issues, both Resolve and GIMP have been great free alternatives in years past for me.


It seems like I recall Wolfram software in the virtual kit for previous seasons. However, if it was there, my team did not use it. Maybe this will be their first season.

In either case, I was looking at their linked access instructions and the description on their web page very specifically mentions access for students. The form to be filled out has a required field for year you expect to graduate from college / university.

Does anyone know if access to the Wolfram software will be available to teachers and mentors or whether it is strictly limited to students? Sort of like the problem when only one copy of software is provided, it’s pretty hard to get students up to speed on something like Mathematica if the mentors who would be doing the teaching don’t have access to their own copy.

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I’m not a big fan of yucking someone else’s yum.

There are legitimate criticisms of Adobe’s business model. That said, we are aiming to prepare students for a future career. A media arts program that sent graduates out into the world without at least some basis in Adobe Creative Cloud (even if, say, someone preferred to teach a concept in Final Cut Pro) would be like a mechanical engineering program shipping out graduates with a background in SketchUp.

The opportunity to expose students to processes, products, and tools of industry is not only limited to engineering, and I welcome the addition to the Virtual Kit. Hopefully, they see the value so future years can see more seats or a slightly longer license term (say, 15-18 months to ensure a safe overlap with future seasons) made available to teams.


I never said the addition of the adobe suite was bad. I’m just annoyed at the lack of licenses given, and that could easily change as the years go. Even Tableau (with a now fairly similar model) has included 5 licenses in their copy for the past few years, allowing multiple students to collaborate and work with the software. Here, if one student wanted to use Premiere and one wanted to use Illustrator, you’re basically out of luck without some license scheneagans that may or may not be outside their TOS (and may not work reading their help page.)

As to your Sketchup metaphor, both gimp and resolve helped give an idea of both PS/Premiere good enough to be able to jump into classes teaching them. YMMV?


Access to InDesign is huge though. Inkscape is better at layout work with the new text tools, but it’s nowhere as fast as ID for publishing.

I think Adobe would get a significantly larger ROI if they included even marginally more licences. How are students supposed to be taught with out a licence for a mentor? One licence isn’t enough to justify changing our workflow in most cases, but even say 3 might make us more inclined to try it out.

If they feel that one is adequate, I’m more than happy (as I assume most are) to use other software in place of CC. Don’t get me wrong, I love they way it works, but I already have enough bills to pay.


I wonder how much of this is driven by Covid restrictions for people… In normal years, 1 license can allow a couple people to collaborate and gain experience with the software, just by sitting down together with a computer - that can totally be worth it. That sort of collaboration becomes much tougher with Covid, where having multiple licenses allows for better remote learning and work, and one license can turn anyone that doesn’t have that license into just a spectator remotely, without the ability to really participate with the program.


For what it’s worth, we use Figma for all of our graphics, and it works really well – it’s free & cloud based, so it’s really easy to collaborate and quickly review designs (and you don’t need to juggle one license between multiple people), and it’s got all the features you’d expect from a vector graphics editor – @buildupon or @jolie could probably answer any questions you have

I’ll have to check that out.

Every team’s needs are different. My team is incredibly small (we’re lucky if we have one student dedicated to graphic design), and having just a single CC license will help out our team a lot, and I’m appreciative of it.

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I’m very excited to have one seat of CC this year. We have licenses in my classroom with 25 seats, but it is a quarter mile from our shop through a building that may or may not have the alarm system turned on after school. Having that one seat available will allow for work in our shop and for one kid to work at home at a time if they need to. We have never had more than 3 students that were really focused on our graphics department before, so this works just fine for our needs.

The biggest benefit to me will be in using a trusted and powerful, and industry accepted software to process video production. The ability for a student to finish a video at home over night is huge.

I assume shop+home=laptop. Does your team have laptops beyond those used for programming/driving on which you could install CC, or would you put CC on a programming laptop which has to split duty, or would you give the license to the “take home” student for installation on their personal laptop?

No, with Creative Cloud you can sign out of one computer and sign in elsewhere. You can install on multiple, have a program open on two computers and actively use/edit on a single machine with a single license.https://helpx.adobe.com/download-install/using/install-apps-number-of-computers.html

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