Early in 2015, FIRST announced that the First Tech Challenge (FTC) robotics platform would be powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon processor (the same processor used in most Android phones).
Starting with the Fall 2015 FTC competition, students can now control the robot using App Inventor. (Go here and page down to App Inventor Download and Resources and follow that link).
FTC uses a version of App Inventor that is installed on a local computer rather than running over the Internet, as we do with MIT App Inventor.
FIRST robotics is an “academic sport” for the mind as teams are faced with the challenge of conceptualizing, designing and building a complex robot to solve a challenge. The Mission of FIRST Robotics:
“Our mission is to inspire young people to be science and technology leaders, by engaging them in exciting mentor-based programs that build science, engineering and technology skills, that inspire innovation, and that foster well-rounded life capabilities including self-confidence, communication, and leadership.”
I am in my 8th year of volunteering as an engineering mentor to high school robotics teams. I am currently a volunteer with Glencoe High School’s Team #4488 “Shockwave” team where I am the lead mentor for Apps Software. Our team is a student-led team. The students make the design choices and implement the solutions. The mentors assist with technical and management training and specialized learning.
Our team, like many FIRST teams, is run similar to a business with separate sub-teams not only for robotics (mechanical, electrical, robot programming, CAD) but also other functions (marketing, business, strategy, web and applications software, graphic design) and even an animation team. Our applications team produces support software for the entire team by creating custom tablet apps and Windows applications software that assist in various information collection, analysis and processing functions. Last year, the team also created a robotics game that is available in the Google Play store.
There are many opportunities for volunteering – from technical engineering to business and marketing, graphic and art design, wood and metal working, CAD, and teaching. Visit usfirst.org to learn more!