Starting an FRC team is a challenging venture to embark on. Teams consist of 10-50 students between 14 and 18 years old, typically have 3-20 adult mentors from various sources (industry engineers, parents, teachers, etc.) to guide them, and require a lot of money and more space to run than FLL or FTC, due to the size of the robots.
The registration cost for FRC is around USD$6,000 for new teams (requiring a ‘rookie’ kit) and around USD$6,000 for veteran teams. In both cases, the team receives a comprehensive Kit of Parts which contains a lot of valuable resources and materials. However, on top of this, teams will require additional materials (sheet metal, nuts&bolts, etc.) to build the robot, which is far bigger and heavier than FLL or FTC robots. Teams will also require tools (a school metalwork shop for instance) and space to meet, design, manufacture, assemble and store robots. Teams will commonly require at least $10,000-$20,000 to compete each year. Most teams have a collection of corporate sponsors who help pay the bills, although some are funded solely by their schools. The benefit to the sponsors and school is that they are represented by the team at domestic and international events.
Australian teams have two options for competition:
- The official Australian FRC Regional tournament, held annually in March starting in 2015. In order to compete at this event, teams must build their robots in the time between the annual Kickoff in January and the “Ship date” in February, giving them approximately 6 weeks to finish building the robot. Competing at the Regional is a more prestigious opportunity, and high-performing teams are invited to compete at the World Championships in the United States.
- The Duel Down Under is an FRC “off-season” event held in late June to give school teams more time to build the robot. It is open to all Australian FRC teams (including those who opt to attend the Australian Regional), and teams have far more time to prepare. However, this event is less official, and there is no opportunity for advancement.
Both of these events are held in Sydney, so interstate teams should factor in a travel budget for at least 4 team members to compete. For information on competing internationally, please contact us.
FRC requires more time, money, space and manpower than FLL or FTC, but the rewards are also great. The students’ experience of FIRST has been described as ‘the hardest fun they’ll ever have’, and FRC is considered the most intense, most challenging and most rewarding of the three programs.