FIRST Robotics Competition

What is FIRST Robotics Competition?

Combining the excitement of sport with the rigors of science and technology, FIRST Robotics Competition is an exciting robotics-based competition that teams engineering professionals and high-school students to solve real-world engineering problems in fun, rewarding and inspiring ways.

We call FIRST Robotics Competition the ultimate Sport for the Mind. High school students call it “a life changing experience.” FIRST Robotics Competition challenges teams of young people and their mentors to solve a common problem using a standard “kit of parts” and a common set of rules. Teams explore possible career paths as they work together to design, build and program robots in competitions designed by engineering professionals.

It’s as close to real-world engineering as a student can get!

LEARN MORE

What are the basics of the program?

Most teams are associated with high schools and follow the academic calendar, similar to a year-round sport with team meetings after school.

Although recruiting is open year-round, most teams focus recruiting efforts when school resumes after summer break. Team meetings typically start in the fall as occasional or weekly meetings. Business concepts, build practice and orientation occur at this time. Teams also work on award submissions.

Build Season

The new game is released during a kickoff event in early January and teams begin to build in earnest. Teams meet multiple times weekly working on the robot build, programming, strategy and business plan. This period lasts about 10 weeks or until the team’s first regional competition.

Competition

The annual registration fee includes participation in one official regional competition. Teams can attend additional regional competitions ($4,000). Kansas City FIRST organizes three regional competitions to give all teams the opportunity to compete in their home region. Although many teams travel out of state to attend additional regionals, we encourage every team to compete in at least one local event. Local regionals occur in March and early April, with about six teams advancing from each to attend the FIRST Championship in Houston in late April.

Regional competitions in the FIRST Kansas City area provide a full tournament experience complete with the official FIRST field, Student Ambassadors, Scholarship and Sponsorship Row, opening and closing ceremonies, high-octane lights, professional DJ and more.

Teams also may participate in off-season events to strategize, hone their skills, learn new technology, meet other teams, and have fun! These unofficial competitions usually cost around $300 per team and do not include judges awards.

How do I join a team?

Any organization can start a team. In 2018-19, all but one of our region’s teams were affiliated with a public or private high school, with the remaining team a homeschool community (Metro Homeschool Robotics).

Check your local school first to see if a team already exists or if there is interest in starting one. Some teams accept students from other schools, so also check the section below to see teams operating nearby.

Although FIRST Robotics Competition in Kansas City does not match students with existing teams or provide team contact information for several reasons, here are some ways to connect with others:

Volunteer at FIRST events to meet coaches and mentors

Share the FIRST for Educators with your school to encourage formation of new teams

Post on our Facebook Page and ask if coaches have openings.

What does it cost?

Costs for forming a FIRST Robotics Competition team can vary. Annual fees for team registration, event registration and the robot kit of parts, and event participation run $5,000 -$6,000 ($6000 for a new team).  This fee is paid directly to FIRST headquarters.

Additional costs for travel, food, team shirts, equipment and machinery, shop supplies, build materials and stock, and other optional items will vary by team.

Teams raise funds in varied ways. Many teams offer STEM workshops and camps for a fee.  Some create small businesses as part of their team business plan. Some use traditional fundraising ideas such as pancake breakfasts and leaf raking.  Many apply for grants and some get support from their school district or foundation. Some receive donations from area companies, especially those where mentors are employed.  Some apply a student participation fee.

Most team budgets in our area range from $8,000 to $50,000 annually.  Team sizes also vary widely, ranging from eight to 50 students.

What is the time commitment to participate?

Like any sport or other after-school activity, the more time you invest, the better you will become.

Typically, teams meet several times per week during the build and competition season (January-April). During the season, the pressure is on, so be prepared to also spend some nights and weekends helping your team. Many longstanding teams also meet throughout the school year, and some compete in off-season events during the summer.

What is the season timeframe?

FIRST Robotics Competition operates during the school year.  Although some teams meet in the summer and all teams organize and register in the fall, the “official season” begins early in January when the season’s challenge is announced at a kickoff ceremony. From that point, teams work on their robot right up until their first competition.

Regional competitions start in late February and continue through April. Winning teams from regional competitions are invited to compete at a global FIRST Championship at the end of April.

This FIRST Season Calendar offers a global perspective. For local FIRST Robotics Competition events, visit our calendar or see the FIRST Robotics Competition event listing at the bottom of this page.

Who are the current FIRST Robotics Competition teams?

In 2018-19 the Kansas and Western Missouri region included 60 teams, with 46 in the six-county Kansas City metro area.

This listing shows the 2018-2019 Participating Schools and Organizations in the column labelled FRC. You also can search www.firstinspires.org for FIRST Robotics Competition teams in Kansas and in Missouri. This listing can also be filtered by zip code.

How can schools or youth organizations participate?

Contact us!

We would love to help you bring FIRST Robotics Competition to your school or organization. Use the form in the side bar to let us know who you are and we’ll be in touch. You’ll be surprised how rewarding it is to bring this inspiring program to your school or organization.

What scholarship and other benefits are there?

Many colleges and universities, professional associations, and corporations offer college scholarships to high school students on FIRST teams. This is official recognition of the knowledge and technical and life skills these students have gained from participating in a FIRST competitions. In addition, FIRST impacts admittance into highly competitive STEM programs.

Colleges and organizations in our area that offer FIRST scholarships will be present at our FIRST Robotics Competition Tournaments at a “Scholarship Row” so students can talk to them firsthand.

To learn more about post-secondary STEM programs and scholarship opportunities, check the links below.

FIRST Scholarships

Career and Post-Secondary Websites

START A TEAM

Why should I start, coach or mentor a team?

You’ll be a difference maker. The positive effect FIRST Robotics Competition brings is gratifying and well documented. More than 88 percent have more interest in doing well in school and 92 percent are more interested in attending college. See more about FIRST’s positive influences.

In addition:

  • You help connect classroom learning with real life
  • You help students understand and explore potential careers
  • You expose students to a collaborative (a real team) problem-solving process
  • You help students experience a legitimate product delivery lifecycle
  • You receive recognition and appreciation for your knowledge and experience

What do I need to start or coach a team?

  • Two or more adult mentors with both technical and non-technical expertise willing and motivated to “coach” the team through the build and competition season (and beyond)
  • 10 or more high school-aged students willing to put in time after school (and maybe some weekends) and to do any job the team needs to succeed. (Teams have lots of important jobs available for all skill levels and interests.)
  • A suitable meeting place
  • A suitable space to design and build an industrial-sized robot (about 150 pounds) plus access to a variety of machine shop power tools
  • A standard kit of parts and a common set of rules issued by FIRST
  • A community sponsor(s) that will help fund your efforts and provide other support
  • The desire to learn, explore, strategize, build camaraderie, share ideas and talents, make new friends, be accepted and HAVE FUN!

To learn more about starting a team, see Start a Team.

What skills are needed?

The really cool thing about FIRST Robotics Competition is that all skill levels are welcome and needed, technical or non-technical. What are you good at? Whatever it is, we have a job for you and we’ll probably teach you a few new skills while you’re with us.

Student team members are encouraged to bring any skills they already have, like programming, electronics, metalworking, graphic design, web creation, public speaking, videography and more. FIRST Robotics Competition welcomes every student, with or without special skills. Like our mentors say: “This is the only sport where if you show up, you can play.”

What is the team registration process?

To register as a FIRST Robotics Competition Team, the team’s lead coach or coordinator must create an individual coach profile and a team profile on FIRSTInspires.org. Set up your team account here.

Coaches complete the required screening and agree to the Youth Protection Program rules.

Registering your team makes you a part of the huge FIRST Robotics Competition community. You’ll begin receiving communications from FIRST, along with a temporary team number in preparation for event registration in early October.

What grants and team resources are available for starting a team?

Grants for FIRST Robotics Competition teams are available at the national and local level.   Opportunities include:

For more details, see the Grants section of the Team Portal page. 

FIRST VISTA AmeriCorps members and FIRST Kansas City’s Senior Mentor also can help with team visits, one-on-one assistance and locating resources, both technical and otherwise.  Find their contact information here.

Who do I contact for additional support in starting a team?

To contact us directly about starting a team, complete the “Have a Question or Comment” section on the side of this page and check “I want to form a team.”

Or contact FIRST Robotics Competition Regional Director Robert Dumler directly at rdumler@firstinspires.org.

UPCOMING FIRST ROBOTICS COMPETITION EVENTS

Sep 12

FRC Coaches Meeting

September 12 @ 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Sep 13

Great Plains Robot Roundup 2019

September 13 @ 3:30 pm - September 14 @ 5:00 pm
Oct 28
Nov 01

Cow Town ThrowDown

November 1 @ 3:00 am - November 2 @ 5:00 pm
Jan 04

FIRST Robotics Competition Kickoff & Quick Build

January 4, 2020 @ 9:00 am - 4:00 pm