FTC @ Champs

To preface this, I was on FRC 2959 for four years as team president, programming lead, and drive coach. I am now a coach of FTC 12014. I have experience on both sides… I know that FTC being during FRC Einstein is controversial.

What could FIRST do to make FTC more palatable for the greater community? (Advertising-wise, viewing-wise, etc.)

I only ask because I really think FIRST could do a better job with FTC and I see so many people say things I would consider to be negative about it.

Again, this discussion is meant purely to address this question: What could FIRST do to make FTC more palatable for the greater community? Since I have experience in FRC and FTC, I’m wondering what other people think about this issue.


HQ really should be treating FTC as it’s cash cow instead of FRC. Why HQ insists on treating the program that is better equipped to accomplish the goal of “a team in every school” as the red headed step child is beyond me.


I would say that it’s for the same reason that baseball is played at way more schools than squash, people like it more.

Why is tennis more popular in schools than pickelball? Pickelball is a way cheeper sport to support, yet tennis is way more prevalent because people find it more entertaining. Why? I’m not sure, it’s basically the same sport; however, as long as people see it as more fun or interesting, they will keep funding tennis and not pickelball.

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So long as FTC programs exist in middle schools and as “JV” teams in schools that also have FRC teams, many FIRST participants will view it as a lesser program.


Couple ideas which can make FTC a more interesting game.

3v3 matches

This would allow a more intense match and also removes the “strategy” part of picking who plays in what match. It also would allow more play time for teams, more unique styles of play, and open doors for niche bots as seen in FRC. This is especially true in eliminations. It would most likely require a larger field and perhaps more complex game elements, but I think that can be easily adapted/changed.

Real time scoring (or at least close to real time)

In FTC, the final scores very so much from the game scores that it is difficult to follow. Also the UI of the score is an eyesore and I think they can take notes from how FRC does their scoring and end of match score reveals.

Having the Inspire award mimic more of the Chairmans award or have greater overlap between the awards they give for FRC and FTC. This is a bit controversial, but I think FIRST did something right by valuing the Chairmans award over something like the inspire award since it does not take robot rank or effectiveness into account and looks at the overall impact of the team.

I can go on, but I think this is a good starting point for discussion that I hope the people at FIRST HQ sees.


The JV designation exists on so many levels too.

Assuming all programs are available: by age, students progress into FTC at 7th/8th grade, then into FRC in 9th/10th.

The logistics of building and competing with an FRC robot are bigger. When you max-out your abilities in FTC, FRC is the logical next step.

The available build techniques and materials in FRC are more diverse and free-form. When you max-out your abilities building with FTC style components, FRC is the next logical step.

FTC matches go first, then FRC matches.

FTC has four fields at champs, FRC has 6.

In every way I can think of, FTC is cemented as the “little brother” of FRC. It’s got its unique quirks, but I’m not sure if it will ever supplant FRC.

What if you were to make the game design & field exactly the same (just scaled by a factor of 1/3 or so)? This could force teams to look across programs for design and strategy ideas, leading to more cross-venue engagement at champs.

So starting this year real-time scoring was available at all levels, with varying degrees of success. It required manual input from scorers field-side.

By that, are you mainly looking for it to solely value outreach/impact and not look at robot, or what are you suggesting to that end?

One idea I had was to expand FTC’s representation at Worlds greatly and move them into their own championship on the scale of Vex Worlds. It’s not ideal, especially for people that do both FRC and FTC and made it to Worlds for both, but I think it would help get more people just looking to watch some robots to check out what FTC has done.

I mentored both an FTC team and an FRC team this year. There are such huge differences in the energy level of the two programs at all levels that I am not sure you can really bridge the gap. The two programs are really designed to be different so I’m not sure whether we even want to try.

Let me address just Champs:

I don’t understand why the number of FTC teams going to Championships is so small. I’m not sure of the exact numbers for active teams, but I believe FTC has about 2x the number of teams as FRC and yet at Champs, there are only about half as many FTC teams? With the advancement criteria being what it is, you get a higher number of award winners going to Champs versus winning alliance members. Now those award winning teams tend to be high performing teams, but perhaps not the highest performing teams.

On the plus side, the real time scoring in FTC has really helped a lot. It seemed like this year, the scoring was a lot more accurate compared to last year’s pilot run.

On the minus side, in MMP, you couldn’t see anything from the stands and the camera angles were not the best. I really wanted to see the action because one of our local team, 5064 - Aperture Science, was playing. But it was impossible to see.

It might be interesting to have the final matches for FTC be played during the round robin stages of Einstein rather than at the finals. I think the FTC viewing experience would be a lot better in GRB/Cobo. Also, if more FTC teams were invited, you could have more than 2 divisions and you could run a playoff rather than just a best of 3 matchup between 2 alliances.

I also think that people are missing some of the really clever designs that these FTC bots have implemented and if they could see some of these features in action, that they would be really impressed. For example, many of the top FTC bots this year implemented a mineral sorter on their dumper that would cause the silver (balls) to roll to one side and the gold (cubes) to slide to the other side. I would have liked to see interviews on the big screen with the teams describing their robots or even demonstrating some of the features up close. If more people saw how truly intricate these bots are and how well built they are, I think it would change some people’s minds.

Finally, I think that one of the strongest aspects of FTC is the 30 second auto period (versus the 15 seconds for FRC). There are a lot of tasks to do in that period and the intricacy of the routine does not really come through when watching the game play. I would like to see the game announcers do a “Madden style” telestrator analysis of the auto routines where they play the routine and then stop it periodically and draw what is happening on the screen. The two commentators that we had in MMP certainly had the energy and vibe of the Madden/Summerall commentating duo. I bet they would have a blast doing that level of game analysis between matches.


Maybe FTC should be limited to Middle School ages and a hybrid of FRC and FTC should exist at the high school level? Double the FTC field or reduce FRC to 2/3?

I wrote something longer about FTC in general in this thread, but the main point was:

I think FTC tries to be all things to all people. In some regions it is more of a mentor-driven mini-FRC for 7th-8th graders. In other regions it is a low-cost alternative to FRC for high school students. In some places it is both. It’s got its pluses and minuses like most other programs.

It also has Dean’s List winners, which it totally appropriate. It has some impressive robots at Champs because those teams have been working on them for 7-8 months. However, there ends up being a lot of same-looking robots in the four on the field at any given time due to copying of the most efficient ideas. Real-time scoring is better in FTC that it was two years ago when you couldn’t tell at all what was going on at Minute Maid (the first time FTC made the closing ceremonies) but they still don’t explain the game to the audience very well. At least they played the game animation this year at the closing ceremonies, although at Detroit it was before most people had shown up.

To be frank, I’ve not been happy with the game design the last couple of years. Reusing the same game elements over and over (and over and over) has taken the fun out of it for those kids who are in it for more than a year or two.

I like the field size the FIRST Global is using with the FTC-sized robots and going to three robots with a game that most teams won’t be able to design something that can do all the game parts without cooperation. There is very little strategy in FTC right now. Each robot does its own thing.


This. Watching FTC reminds me of watching FRC matches from 20 years ago, when FIRST was still figuring itself out. FTC needs more time to develop and figure out a good game layout to make it most exciting to participate in and watch.

I don’t think that necessarily reducing the age of FTC is a good idea. many of even the top FTC teams are home based teams, who don’t have enough resources to pull together an FRC team. Although I do like the idea of a bigger field.

I’d have to disagree with that, (I do agree with the logistics part though). both my FTC team and FRC team use custom waterjetted parts, and the FTC bot this year looks like a miniature FRC bot. The only real building difference is no pneumatics. So the max cap of FTC fabrication wise is about the same as FRC in the end.


I’ve had a long-running theory when it comes to game design: I think there is a correlation between the excitement of a game and how much kinetic energy is within it. Quite simply, bigger and faster games with more moving objects are more fun than their smaller, slower counterparts. I think part of the reason I’ve found programs under FRC less enjoyable is largely because they’re not exciting to me. In other words, they’re boring. There are robot competitions of similar size to FTC that give the robots a bit more space to drive around and more power to use and they’re much more exciting than any FTC match I’ve ever seen.

To echo what others have said, I believe FTC could be vastly improved by making it larger and faster, and I think there’s a way to scale it upwards just enough to still fit within the affordability and accessibility that it currently promotes for its own program. Make the robots 24" cubes, make the field 12’ x 24’, and add a bit more power to the control system and motors, and I bet people will be more excited about the program and the matches while still keeping the program low-cost.


Fair enough. My thought process had been simply that I’ve seen FTC parts on FRC robots, but rarely the other way around. I’ll buy that it’s similar enough to not matter though.

With the inspire award, it’s all encompassing, whereas the chairman’s award is more focused on team impact. As a comparison between the inspire award winners at worlds and the chairman’s award winner, there’s no contest regarding who has the larger impact. Don’t get me wrong I LOVE brainSTEM, but FRC is a whole different ball game and if FIRST wants to bring the magic of FRC to FTC then I think they need to tweak some small things to the processes.

I totally get what you mean. At university, I’m in a class that does a 9x9 autonomous robot competition, and it’s literally the most boring thing to watch. FRC has the “WOW” factor. 100% stand by the fact that some FTC bots are better when considering the games than FRC bots, but FRC robots always seem to inspire more than FTC ones (except the really really REALLY good ones you find in championship playoffs)

That’s just my two cents though

Actually FTC has two fields

I have to 100% agree with this. games in FTC are not super fun, especially when they reuse game elements. Additionally, I think a larger field would be great to see officially. an offseason competition called CRI used a larger, modified field that had more things to do, and that looked way more exciting. I also have to add that FTC needs to have more structured defense. all teams really could do this year was park their arm in an opponents crater to “block”. No pushing = no fun