FIRST Tech Challenge
While it has long been a goal of the FIRST organization and community to push S.T.E.M. (science, technology, engineering, math) cirriculum into every school in the United States, it was soon becoming evident that the FIRST Robotics Competition was not the best tool for widespread growth of FIRST. Due to the costs and resources involved with running an FRC team, a cheaper solution was sought that could provide a similar inspiration experience. From this, the FIRST Tech Challenge debuted. Although the robots may seem pint-size as compared to an FRC robot, the inspiration and excitement from this program is anything but!
History behind the FTC
Introduced early in 2005 by Radio Shack, the Vex Robotics Design System was not only an innovative consumer product, but the basis of an entirely new level of the FIRST experience. Called the FIRST Vex Challenge, this program uses the Vex Robotics Design System (now owned by Innovation First, Inc.) as the basis for the "younger cousin" of the FIRST Robotics Competition. After several successful seasons using the Vex Robotics kits, a decision was made to switch to a different platform along with a change in name, now called the FIRST Tech Challenge.
Team 228 expands beyond FRC
Team 228's interest in mini-robotics began back in 2003, when our team purchased two EDUbot / Robovation kits from Innovation FIRST. (The Vex Robotics Kits has its origins in the EDUbot kits). In 2004, Team 228 hosted a mini-competition, in which other local teams were invited to participate in an EDUbot game called Block Blitz, which ran from November to December 2004.
After seeing the initial pilot FVC competition, held at the 2005 FIRST Championship Event, Team 228 knew that this competition would be perfect to introduce into our team. Beginning with the 2005/06 season, Team 228's FVC team (originally FVC 59, then FVC 228) had been inspiring students for the three seasons in which the FIRST Tech Challenge used the Vex kits. The Vex team serves as an entry-level "junior-varsity" team for all our new students on our team.
FIRST was founded in 1989 by the renowned inventor Dean Kamen. The aim of FIRST is to inspire students to careers in math, science, and technology through a fun and engaging robotics competition, which provides students with the ability to meet one-on-one with industry leaders and engineers.
The initial FIRST Robotics Competition comprised of 28 teams competing in a New Hampshire high school gymnasium. The ensuing years brought rapid growth to the program, to include over 35,000 students, 2,000 teams from 11 countries, competing at over 50 District and Regional Events, culminating with the World Championship Event in St. Louis, Mo.