FTC in Michigan
Frog Force is the face of FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) in Michigan. We support every facet of the program including growing teams, hosting events, volunteering in key roles, and developing resources. FTC is the perfect stepping stone to FIRST Robotics Challenge (FRC). Our FTC graduates “hit the ground running” when they enter high school. They bring tool skills, knowledge of FIRST, experience playing a FRC like game as well as bringing mentors and sponsors to our team. Our middle school FTC frogs have added at least 10 team members to the “Force” each year. This experience has been duplicated by FRC teams across the state who have started and mentored middle school FTC teams in their area.
Under Frog Force's leadership, Michigan Middle School FTC has grown from 44 rookie teams and 3 events in 2011-2012 to 337 teams and 16 events in 2016-2017. In our own community, we've grown from 1 FTC team in 2011 to 9 teams in 2016. Helping teams navigate the registration process, applying for grants, facilitating sponsor donations, establishing an FTC Kit of Parts rental system, providing outreach opportunities, holding workshops and mentoring coaches and teams alike sets our teams up for success. In 2016, 8 of the 9 Novi FTC teams qualified for the Michigan State Championship. Our veteran FTC team, Black Frogs, has won the State Inspire award for the last 6 years! These achievements are especially notable because, as middle school spans 7th and 8th grade in our school district, each year teams have been largely rookies.
In 2012, Frog Force hosted the largest FTC event in the state, the inaugural East Michigan FTC Championship at Novi Middle School. This 2-division event was host to 44 teams. This experience was used to established best practices and standards for future events across the state. Since then Frog Force has filled key roles at every event throughout the season. Frog Force supplies almost a third of the volunteers at the events we support, such as FTAs and CSAs, Judges & Judge Advisors, Referees, and Scorekeepers. In addition, Frog Force has hosted FTC Kick off events, mentor training events, FTC workshops across the state, Spring competitions and mentored FRC teams in holding their own events.
In 2015, Frog Force mastered the new FTC Android Control system, becoming the FIRST in Michigan help desk for teams across the state. Throughout the season, we assisted over 30 FTC teams with control system troubleshooting, and 196 through our CSAs and FTAs providing individualized support at competitions. One FTC coach stated that Frog Force was, "an invaluable programming resource and... [did] a fantastic job helping teams make progress no matter how prepared or unprepared [they] were."
For the 2016 season, Frog Force developed The Orange Alliance an online catalogue of data and information on FTC teams and competitions in Michigan. Teams, spectators and fans can easily access team stats, match data and competition results from the stands or at home. Data for all the FIRST in Michigan events have been loaded so that teams can review how they did across the season or scout other teams.
Our Velocity Vortex scoring app made counting those vortex ball scores much more fun and accurate for field scorers this season. It was quickly adopted by volunteers at 79 FTC qualifiers across the country-and all four FTC Super-regional events!
Creating a vibrant and sustainable FTC program in Michigan allows more students to be involved in FIRST programs and strengthens the Michigan progression of programs at every level. More information on FTC in Michigan can be found at www.firstinmichigan.org/ftc