[FTC]: Hosting an FTC Event

Hi. My team was thinking of possibly hosting an FTC event. What all goes into it? What would we all need? Any advice is appreciated! Thank you.

The biggest thing you need is a bunch of volunteers.

What type of FTC event do you have in mind? How many teams?

Here’s a quick list of some of the big items you need:

Volunteers (key volunteers can be tough to get)
Venue (competition floor + stands, pits, judging areas)
Various tables in the venue (pits + field tables = 30+ tables)
Volunteer food
Concessions
Fields (including practice field)
Field electronics + laptops

Whether this is doable for you depends largely on the volunteer situation. When we were doing qualifier events at our school, we’d have over 50 volunteers for a 20-24 team event. Now we’re on league meets, so it’s a lower number. Getting enough referees and judges is challenging. Getting an emcee can be challenging. You also need a head FTA, and lead HW+SW inspectors, and you need people who know what they’re doing in those roles. Each of those key volunteers needs helpers. Then you need a variety of non-trained positions such as field reset, queuers, pit runner, pit admin, and check-in.

Venues can also a challenge, because basketball seemingly takes over every square inch of gym space for every minute of the basketball season.

We have a lot of volunteers in our area, and hosting the event at the school made a lot of things free or inexpensive. That makes it pretty doable here. The first time anybody hosts an event, it’s going to be stressful and a learning experience. But once an event has some momentum, the event capacity goes up for the program in your area, and that’s a beautiful thing. Somebody’s gotta do it.

My team just hosted an FTC qualifying tournament yesterday.

Nemo gave a pretty good summary of what’s required. I definitely recommend planning the event far in advance – because of a late decision to host, we only had about 2 1/2 months to plan. This was extremely stressful, and our parents who helped run it had very limited experience with FTC. Our tournament director had actually never been to an FTC tournament before!

Referees and Judges are very difficult to find, and several other key volunteer positions also require certification training.

My biggest frustration was trying to establish and enforce traffic patterns (I did queuing). I had to post “guards” at every possible entrance to the playing area to prevent parents, spectators and other unauthorized individuals from entering the competition area. Teams also tried to queue through exits and the end gaps, which made verifying that teams had showed up very difficult. Our tournament only had 16 teams, which also meant that teams very often would leave the field only to be right back in the queue.

We are planning on hosting a scrimmage the 1st year and then possibly hosting a qualifier the next year. We realize that there are a limited number of teams that can host a qualifier, but we think that we may be an attractive team due to the fact that we are from S. Minnesota and there is no event down here. All of the teams around us have to drive to the twin cities (just like us).

First, look here http://www.usfirst.org/roboticsprograms/ftc/volunteer-resources

The first document is very good and will give you an idea of what is involved.

Good luck!
Dan

Thank you very much! That looks like a great resource and I will definitely read over that.

I would say contact your local FTC group. If it were Virginia, contact VirginiaFIRST. Most groups are willing to work with you. You’ll still have to do a lot of the leg work but overall, they can help out with volunteers, fields and electronics. If they can help with fields and electronics then they can provide volunteers in the form of Lead Field Manager and FTA.

I’ll add to the list pertaining the venue making sure the electrical is adequate and that the local IT support is willing to work with you pertaining to Wi-Fi Networking. When it comes the electronics, don’t just have the bare minimum required to operate the event. For two fields, have a full field of spare equipment ready, especially if it is a qualification event.

And last but not least, Patience. :smiley:

For a 2015-16 Qualifier, you’re going to need to apply this coming spring through High Tech Kids (HTK). http://www.hightechkids.org/ They are the FTC Affiliate Partner. They have an application packet.

For a scrimmage, HTK is also a valuable resource. I’d encourage you to sign up to volunteers at this year’s qualifiers to learn the ropes. We can always use more adult and student volunteers.

Another contact is the MN FIRST Senior Mentor, Evan Hochstein [email protected]. He can guide you to teams that can help.

Let me know if you need more help.

–Scott
Fish in the Boat Robotics
[email protected]
Lakeville, MN

I agree with everything above however one of the key things to remember is that all your volunteers need training.
Field reset, queuers, pit runner, pit admin, and check-in all need a short, 5 minute max, training session to tell then what you expect them to do.
Examples: Queuers need to know where they should bring the teams to queu, Field reset need to know how the field goes together, etc. The event will not run smoothly if these positions have problems. But these people can be trained on the day of.

Your other volunteers, judges, refs, MC’s and inspecters all need to be trained before the day of. This means that they can help with the training for the remaining positions.
One of the effective ways to train your volunteers is to have a time for just judges (robot interview), or just refs. Then you can contact the MC and talk with them personally. It is a good idea to have a back up MC especially if you are not going to have a mic, by half way through the day the MC appreciates even a 15 minute voice break.

When you make your even schedule 10 minutes per match with 15 minute gaps between every 4 or 5 matches will mean that you can end on time. The 15 minute gaps will be used when you have field trouble or longer matches. It seems like a lot of time to put in a schedule as non planned but almost every minute of it will be used.

My team had a scrimmage with 10 teams and this is the schedule: FTC Scrimmage Schedule TEMPLATE MH - Google Sheets . You may copy this schedule but cannot edit it where it is.
We did not do an elimination round or awards through we did do a high five line. So in essence this schedule has only ranking matches and then skips straight to awards.

I hope this helps. Good luck with your scrimmage.