A recent Friday in October was historic for Robotics. The Texas association of private and parochial schools, or TAPPS, has worked for many years with football, band and other sports activities. However they have never had Robotics, and now they do. On October 21, 2016, a FTC training/competition day was held in Waco, by TAPPS. While it was not the typical big competition like FIRST, it was still a massive step in the right direction for Robotics.
There was a great variety of teams, and people in attendance. It ranged from first year teams, to 7 year teams, to people who just wanted to learn about FTC, in hopes of starting their own. Around 9 teams showed up, for FTC. There was a great many people there for FLL as well. In fact, some of the sessions/workshops held were for FLL. In spite of the obvious need for the robots themselves, it is the people who make robotics. From the field manager, to the mentor, to the team members, we learned more from talking to people, than actually watching the competition. There was a man there, a mentor from another team, who actually had the same problem as us! He helped us get through our problem, in a way which we would not have figured out ourselves. This is the spirit of FIRST.
The sessions themselves were split up into different categories, rookie and veteran, for FLL and FTC. We attended the veteran FTC meetings. The first was a lecture on control systems, in which we found out what we were missing on our program. The second was on design, which we did not attend, given that we had to write a whole new program. The third was on judging and notebook preparation. This one I did not personally attend, but a mentor and one of our team members did. We learned a great deal about presentation, since the robot really is the smallest part of being on a FIRST team.