This season, rookie FTC Team 9790: Vier Left has been asked to chronicle their experiences as they transition from a highly recognized FLL team to an FTC team. The word “journey” has taken on special significance for this team and this season. This is the first of five installments. -Coach Cole
FIRST Lego League was five years of fun, learning, and excitement. It became an important part of me, and I know it always will be. However, I have now reached the point where my time in FLL is over, and I now move on to a higher level. The FIRST Tech Challenge was the next step in my robotics path. It is now that I continue my journey through the FIRST program.
(Vier Left, FTC 9790, at the beginning of the season, when it was warm)
The transition from FLL to FTC wasn’t super tough, but it wasn’t smooth either. A lot of what I expected ended up being true, but it was still different. For example, the majority of the time is dedicated to the robot. This was a big change from FLL because the Project Presentation was such a big focus. The process of learning programming was a very large and difficult. In FLL, it was all pre-programmed and the software was simple. Now, in FTC, the software is a lot more complex, and if we have a letter capitalized instead of lowercased in the hardware map, the robot won’t run. In addition, Outreach is a very important part of FTC. While my team is used to doing lots of Outreach, it wasn’t really recognized during my time in FLL. Also, the overall structure of the team is drastically different. In FLL, everybody worked on the project, programming, and building relatively equally. This year, we’ve found that while everybody still has an opinion in each area, people have become “specialists” in certain areas. Jacob, has really gotten into the programming, while Maddy focuses on scouting. Fortunately for our team, all of the required fields in FTC are of interest someone. We find that we have a lot more fun this way.
(Two team members at an outreach opportunity at a local Barnes and Noble)
Probably the weirdest part of this entire transition is that you can go to multiple qualifying tournaments, and you can compete in more than one state. As opposed to FLL where it is pretty much one and done. This year, my team chose to go to a qualifying tournament in Ohio as well as three in Indiana. We are excited to meet new teams at these competitions and get brand new experiences. Despite a large difference between the two programs, the transition went well. I am excited that I have been able to move up to the more intense challenge that is FTC. This program has been a lot of fun so far and I’ve learned a lot about things you can’t learn in a classroom like how to cut with saws and drilling through metal. I think there’s even more in store for the future, and that there’s a lot still to do in the program.
Zach - Team 9790 Vier Left