December 30, 2014

Resources for FIRST Teams

This page is an ongoing list of cool resources and information, all that a growing FIRST team needs to be inspired and succeed, in competitions and beyond!


The US First website has a ton of helpful links.  Start with the sitemap, of course, but sometimes there are little nuggets hidden away here and there, like the FRC field contacts and volunteer training.

Here are a few places to note:

First and foremost, the Game Manual (duh! “Read the manual…”)

The Annual Report is worth a visit just for the flipping pages (err, pages that flip)

Looking to feature some cool FIRST graphics?  Head on over to the approved logos page.


Want to sell some light bulbs?  Here’s the link to the USFirst page.  If you’re a rookie team, don’t skip the section on available FRC grants.
How about Hexbugs? or First Aid Kits?

Our successful fundraising efforts (besides having AWESOME sponsors!) have been in garage sales, Butter Braid, and restaurant nights.  Our two yard sales, one held in May 2014 and the other in October, averaged out to $900 each.  Not bad for a morning’s worth of work (backed by several weeks’ worth of planning!).

Crowdfunding can be profitable as well. Check out Union Schools Union8ersGofundme effort.

Just some ideas…


Seniors, why are you turning away free money?  Apply for some scholarships, and give your parents’ bank account a break.[1]

happy_gradStart with the obvious:  FIRST’s scholarship page, naturally.  With over $20 million up for grabs, what’s not to like?   From the searchable database page, to the alumni blog, a veritable smorgasbord of opportunities.  The blog itself has a series of FAQs, recently posted and most relevant.

There are some “gotchas” in the scholarship requirements.   For example, to qualify for a scholarship from Gates, you must have been part of an FRC team (obviously) and your team must have used a Gates belt on its robot (less obvious).   Don’t go monkeying around with other aftermarket fancy-dancy belts, not if you want to provide some team members with at least a chance at a scholarship opportunity.

REC (Robots and Education Competition) Foundation has a Ubotics-approved name and an even better tagline: “Inspiring Students, one robot at a time”.   Better still, they want to help with giving away awarding gobs and gobs of scholarship money to geek-minded students.

The website is like a clearing-house of scholarships opportunities from the likes of Kettering University, Texas Instruments and Michigan State. While they seem more VEX-oriented than anything else (as are some of the donors), there are also opportunities for FIRST FRC roboteers.  For example, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University is also engaged with providing scholarships through FIRST. The more you read, the more often the same names keep popping up. Knowledge is power!

After College…

Mostly for seniors and mentors, here’s a site that advertises some cool gigs not usually found on career websites:  RoboJobs


A partial blogroll of FIRST Teams

Some teams have been better websites than others.  A few have embraced Web 2.0 as a design basis, with a responsive, mobile-adapted site:

FTC Beta Team 3550 has some great resources at their website, check them out.

The Clockwork Oranges, FRC Team #4322, have a nifty navigation side bar, and constant updates from Chief Delphi.


Chief Delphi – from discussion on complex technical issues like gearboxes and machining, to tips on fundraising and team mentoring, the Chief Delphi forum is where roboteers from all walks of FIRST hang out. Little-known fact: the Chief Delphi forum is sponsored by Innovation First, makers of the VEX robotics system.

NROBORIO B5UF5cuIYAAqfP0ational Instruments – the good folks responsible for your RoboRio and LabVIEW.

Finding NEMO …. no, not a small clown fish, but the Non-Engineering Mentor Organization. Good place to source information which is non-robot-related (such as publicity manual or tips on team organization) but which nevertheless might just help you score (!) an award at a regional.

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