Starting FRC at School with VEX Team?

I go to a private school in Atlanta, Georgia, and I recently was introduced to FRC and got hooked on the idea of doing it. My school has 4 VEX teams (all under the umbrella of our school), but I’m still really interested in the idea of FRC. From past experience and hearing remarks about FRC, the current coach does not want to do FRC for another 2-3 years, or basically when I’m a senior, which I feel would be a wasted year because it’s the rookie year where you’re supposed to be learning how to do everything so you can do well in year 2, the year I’d be a freshman in college. (If we started a team, I’d still work on it though because I really want to be on an FRC team) My question is, is there any way I can still get involved with First that’s not part of school, or am I basically out of luck for high school?

Some teams are not affiliated with schools and have a application process. Some schools will take in students from out of district. Do some searching in your area. Look up the blue alliance to find teams near you. Good luck

Where in Atlanta are you based? I mentor a team that is not affiliated with a school, and many of the other Atlanta teams will let you join even if you don’t go to their school. Feel free to PM me and I can try to put you in contact with some local teams.

Eastern Side of the City closer to the Urban Area- Near Grady High School

Entering your rookie year of FRC as a HS senior, well prepared to guide/serve underclassmen as you all start a sustainable FRC team that has a solid business plan, that is an inspiration in its community, that will be fed by strong/nurtured programs for younger students, that can manage time well, that understands how to move from a strategy to a well-tested implementation, that is filled with students able to communicate well with adults, businesses, and peers, and that OBTW, builds and drives an OK robot …

Well, that would give you an excellent shot an earning one of the World Championship Rookie All-Star awards.

FRC is about way more than the robot or the matches at tournaments. If you look at the big picture, your school’s FRC team is starting right NOW, before you file the paperwork to get a team number. It’s time to get busy getting things done now, not 2-3 years from now.

Along the way to helping your current coach be successful with his current plan, maybe suggest that your group should build and experiment with at least one legal FRC robot (have it inspected when it’s “done”) before the FRC team officially forms. See where things go from there.


Actually, I’d go one better.

Compete at a nearby offseason event with it. Basically, spend the time from Kickoff to that offseason working on it as time allows. The great part about that is that the offseason will likely have at least one certified inspector (so you can get a full inspection, just let them know ahead of time as most offseasons do a very cursory inspection), you get some play time to see how it stacks up, AND it’ll be pretty cheap (as pre-rookie teams tend to be free or very low-cost at such events). Might cut into VEX time a little bit–offseasons tend to be fall events–but it’d be worth it to evaluate readiness to make the expansion.

Georgia’s off-season event, GRITS, will be happening in October. The date should be released soon. Attending this event would give your group a good idea of what it takes to make the jump to FRC. I know of several teams that I’m sure would be happy to have you shadow them through the event. We would be one of those.

One thing I would add is that a rookie year definitely is not a “wasted year”. It is very, very possible to have a successful FRC season your rookie year. It’s possible to win regionals as the #1 seed, or even make Einstein your rookie year, with a little help. Especially coming from a team with several years of competition robotics experience. If that ends up being your only option, give it your all and you can do great things. The biggest thing you can do would be to get your team working in the pre-season to learn the lessons you would learn during your rookie competition year, and to get any experienced FRC people you can involved on your team.

Perhaps one way to sell the program to your advisor (and it may be too late for this year, but maybe not?) would be to try building a simple robot for a fall off-season competition. Reach out to local teams to see if you can borrow some of the big ticket items (a control system), then design and build a bare-bones, low budget robot that does only the most important tasks in the game. This year, it would probably be a robot that crosses defenses and scores low goals, which can be done COTS only fairly easily. If this goes well, your advisor may decide your team can be ready sooner than he thinks. If it doesn’t, you’ve already started learning for when your rookie season does eventually come.

I’ve found myself in a similar situation. My team has been doing FTC for quite a while and we just recently moved on to FRC my junior year. I understand how you may feel that those years may have been wasted, but even though I will only have 2 years of FRC, it still feels very rewarding for the short time I have participated.

Word of advice, rookie year is typically the easiest to get to worlds with a little preparation cause there is less competition for the rookie specific awards. Dont wait till you actually have an FRC team to start outreach so you can increase the chances of getting Rookie all stars (an award that qualifies you for worlds). One of the main reasons my team got it was that we already had a lot of outreach programs started from the years that we did FTC.

I dunno the regulations (insurance, venue, and/or FIRST) that would govern walk-on participation in genetic or specific off-season events, so that’s why I didn’t explicitly mention that possibility.

As far as FIRST, they don’t really care. It’s the event organizers you’d have to chat with, and 9/10 of them or more would bend over backwards to get you in if you’re a prerookie, including such elements as free entry, robot arrangement facilitation, and other help needed. Not sure they’d bump a team for a prerookie, but space can generally be found somewhere along the line.

Basically, you’d reach out and say, “I’m a prerookie, do you have space?”. If they didn’t, they’d tell you.

There are lots of events that are on the hunt for pre-rookies and lots of teams have RobotDeux that they would be happy to lend (in most cases it comes with parts and pit advisers) I’m thinking of the fall NJ events and pretty sure that Rah Cha Cha Ruckus does too. Neither of which helps the OP in Atlanta, but I’m betting that the off season events there are the same.

I have spoken with the OP and connected him with several local teams that he could join. These teams also have the ability to assist him if he choses to try and start a team of his own at his school. Here in Atlanta, we have the GRITS offseason event in October that he could easily compete at with a team’s second robot if he decides to go that route.

Thank you all for the help! I really appreciate it!

I’m think I’m gonna try this approach as I think its the safest / best way to pitch it considering we already have VEX teams and little space / tools.

If you do plan to start a rookie team, I believe the single best thing you can do is find a successful veteran team in your area, and ask them to help mentor you through your rookie season.

With a successful VRC program, you’ll have a great foundational base for a lot of FRC. However, there are many differences moving up to the larger-scale competition. The totality of established FRC knowledge is not very centralized, tips and tricks are located in a variety of sources. Having a veteran team you can rely on for some pointers in the right direction will save you a lot of time digging around.

I see that you have a practical approach to how to start a FRC team based on VEX experience, but are there any resources that FRC teams can use to start a VEX team? We do have a VEX student helping us out this year and I think further involvement with the VEX program will promote my team even more. Please post your comments and thoughts on this idea…

The quick answer is that every skill an FRC team learns and practices (or that any STEM-activity team/person learns and practices) is valuable in the VRC (and the opposite is true). I can’t think of any skill that isn’t.

The equipment is different, but the rest is an exercise in using the same skills (in different proportions) to accomplish a similar, but different set of objectives.

I don’t think you need to delay (don’t overthink it).

  • Start with an attitude of inspiration.
  • Read the rules.
  • Learn about the equipment.
  • Support and advise the VRC teams.
  • Have fun.

PS: I thought of one “resource” to investigate - The RECF’s excellent VRC discussion forums (a Google search will quickly find them for you) - They are something you probably haven’t encountered yet if you have been focused on FIRST and/or on the VEX equipment that isn’t used in VRC. The RECF is the non-profit that produces runs the VRC.
PPS: For tools, you will want a few 3/32" and 5/16" hex tip screwdrivers (some with long handles), plus a few small wrenches and/or nutdrivers for turning/holding #8 nuts. These are available from VEX, but you might not think to buy them when buying your other parts.