RoboJackets FTC

2022 Enrollment is Closed.

What is FTC?

FTC is the acronym for the FIRST Tech Challenge. Students work as a team to design, build, and program a robot to compete in an annual game challenge. Robots fit within an 18” cube and play on a 12’ x 12’ game field. Teams compete at qualifier events and work towards advancement to higher levels of play, including a state championship. Information about FTC in Michigan can be found at

Who is eligible?

FTC in Michigan is only open to students through middle school. All students in 6th-8th grades are welcome on RoboJackets FTC teams. 5th graders may apply and will be considered if there is open capacity. There are no prerequisites, and no experience required.

Is there a cost to join a team?

There is no cost to join, nor any required expenses throughout the season.

Families that wish to support the program are invited to help recruit sponsors, and will have the option to donate at the end of the season. This is not a requirement or expectation and has no bearing on selections for future involvement.

What is the process to join a team?

All interested youth should complete and turn in an application. The application should take less than ten minutes to complete. The application will ask youth for contact information for themselves and their parents, their availability for meetings and events, and their preference for type of team.

What are the types of RoboJacket teams?

RoboJackets FTC teams are designated as one of three types:

Type 1 (Recreational) - T1 teams focus on foundational skills and knowledge that create a framework for future development.

    • Regular meetings 1 day/week

    • Type 1 placement is recommend for most first year team members

    • Best fit for youth who expect to have fun at meetings (but still get things done), would prefer to work at a lower intensity pace, and/or are exploring a new interest

Type 2 (Developmental) - T2 teams emphasize development of traits and habits that promote success on the competition field, practices to support team cohesion, and continuous improvement of technical skills.

    • Regular meetings 2 days/week

    • Best fit for youth who are willing to focus on work efforts, open to guidance from coaches, and meetings and want to put their skills to the test at competitions

Type 3 (Competitive) - T3 teams strive for competitive excellence and elite performance through a collective commitment to work ethic and team cohesion.

    • Regular meetings 2-3 days/week

    • Best fit for youth who are seeking a high intensity and rigorous environment, committed to collectivism and teamwork, and enthusiastic about the prospect of immense challenges

When and where are meetings?

Most meetings take place at GATE. The RoboJackets are fortunate to have two dedicated classrooms for the robotics program.

GATE students may walk directly to the RoboJackets rooms at dismissal. AMS students will need to responsibly and safety walk to GATE for after school meetings. Students from elementary schools and other locations will need to secure their own transportation. All students will need to secure transportation home after meetings.

When and where are events?

Events take place on Saturdays in November-December. There are over 20 events in Michigan, spread out over five weekends.

The RoboJackets host a qualifier event at Avondale High School. Many RoboJacket teams will compete at that event, though not all of them.

Events are assigned based on a preference system that opens in early October.

A list of events for the current season can be found at

What is the time commitment for team members?

  • Type 1 teams will meet once per week after school, compete in one official qualifier (one full Saturday), attend the RoboJacket Rumble event, and if qualified will have the option to compete in the FTC Michigan State Championship

  • Type 2 & 3 teams will meet either twice or three times per week, compete in one-two official qualifiers, attend the RoboJacket Rumble event, and if qualified will be expected to compete in the FTC Michigan State Championship

How many youth will be on each team? How are youth grouped into teams?

  • Type 1 teams: 4-6 youth/team

  • Type 2 & 3 teams: 6-10 youth/team

What are the expectations of team members?

  • Be present and a net positive at meetings and events

  • Demonstrate attitudes, behaviors, and characteristics conducive to effective teamwork and team performance

  • Contribute to work efforts that will prepare the team and robot for competition events

  • Fulfill the responsibilities of a necessary competition role at events

  • Keep equipment and facilities clean and organized

What are the expectations of parents of team members?

  • Communicate via the RJK12 Discord server

  • Arrange for transportation home from meetings

  • Arrange for transportation to/from competition events

  • Register youth in FIRST HQ roster system and complete HQ and FIRST in Michigan Consent and Release Forms (required to compete in events)

(Work in progress)

What do team members do at meetings?

Meetings consist of 5-7 small teams working alongside each other. The sharing of ideas promotes rapid iteration cycles, and multiple teams together enables effective and realistic practice matches.

  • Meetings will start with a short full group roundup.

  • Teams will breakout into their designated work pod and will identify problems & opportunities unique to their team and plan their own tasks for the day.

  • Individual team members will spend the bulk of their meeting time working on the iterative process on a particular subsystem of their team's robot. Occasionally, team members may break from their team for specialized guidance (such as for programming, CAD, strategy, etc.), to work with or learn from another team building a similar system, or to focus assist with practice match roles and routines.

  • Teams will be encouraged to participate in practice matches every meeting to help them thoroughly understand game rules and strategies and accurately assess the state of their performance.

  • Team members will be expected to equitably distribute documentation related tasks, including creating the engineering notebook.

What should team members and parents expect at a competition?

Official competitions including judging, qualifying matches, and a playoff bracket. A typical qualifying event includes 30-40 teams. Competitions start early - typically by 8am.

The morning is dedicated to judging. Each team will have an assigned 10-15 minute slot during which they will share their robot and team with a panel of judges. Teams will start with a short prepared presentation, and then answer questions for the remainder of their time slot.

Qualification matches makeup the middle portion of the day. Each team will play five matches and be ranked on their performance (usually based upon winning matches and/or scores in matches). Partners and opponents will be random, and teams should be prepared to encounter an unequal mix of partners and opponents (i.e. weaker partners and/or very strong opponents). A strong and well performing robot will be unaffected by the match schedule.

The event finale is the playoff bracket. After qualification matches, the top four ranked teams will each select two partners. Those four alliances will play a single elimination bracket to determine the winning alliance. At small events, alliances may consist of two teams rather than three.

The event ends with an award ceremony that recognizes the finalists and winners of the event, teams that received judged awards, and teams that qualified for the state championship. Roughly 5-7 teams per event will advance to states.

What are the team member roles at competitions? How are competition roles assigned to individuals?

The primary team member roles at competition are pit crew, strategy, and driveteam.

  • Pit Crew (1-2 team members)

    • Perform routine maintenance checks and pre-match function checks

    • Plan and perform necessary repairs between matches

    • Maintain pit area and equipment

    • Maintain batteries and chargers

  • Strategy (5+ team members)

    • Record robot performance data for all robots at event

    • Interpret and analyze data to create alliance draft selection list

    • Provide information and feedback to driveteam

    • Represent team during alliance selection. If application, respond to alliance invitations and/or announce invitations. (1 team member)

    • To fill out the Strategy crew and have enough team members to do work required, RJ teams at the same events will join forces, with each team supplying 1-2 team members.

  • Driveteam (2-3 team members)

    • 1 Driver, 1 Operator, and 0-1 Human Players (human player role is game dependent and does not exist every year)

    • Drive/Operate the robot on the field for matches

    • Interact with alliance partners and plan effective match strategies

    • Watch match video and demonstrate a robust process for improving match-to-match performance

    • Practice tactics development and consistency between events

Occasionally, additional roles may be executed as it makes sense to do so based on interests, skills, and capacity. Roles such as media (for work purposes or promotional purposes) would require that the core roles are filled AND there is a team member interested in taking photos or videos. Other niche roles include team liaison (interacting with the public and other teams and answering questions), specialized roles in strategy, tactics, or software, and awards specialist.

Team members will have an opportunity to declare their preferences. Competition roles will be recommended by coaches and mentors and final assignments done by Allison (head coach). Competition roles will be assigned on the basis of fulfilling the expectations of team members. Demonstrating attitudes, behaviors, and characteristics conducive to effective teamwork and team performance will be the primary determining factor.

ALL team members will be encouraged to try all roles during practices, meetings, and at the RoboJacket Rumble (our intramural unofficial event).

What is the Fabrication Crew?

The fabrication crew is a selection of team members that assist in production of parts for team kits. Fab crew members must be available Monday and/or Wednesday from 6:15p-8:15p and will work at the Avondale High School FRC shop during FRC team meetings. Work will include:

  • Breaking and making chain loops

  • Post processing machined parts (sanding, filing, deburring, and polishing)

  • Tapping standoffs and axles

As team members demonstrate functional competency with the above skills, they may be introduced to lathe work and CNC machine work.

Fabrication crew members will be expected to communicate for themselves using Slack and meet FRC level expectations for attitudes and behaviors towards work efforts and demonstrate consistent ability to maintain work pace without oversight. Though some learning curve is expected, fab crew members will be expected to demonstrate progress towards ability to and consistency in achieving FRC level tolerances and part quality.