Hi to our previous season and new FIRST Tech Challenge Teams and volunteers in Pennsylvania,
We hope you all have remained safe over this very tumultuous and hopefully singularly unusual year and are looking forward to getting out into a safer and calmer post pandemic world. For sure, Covid-19 has not gone away at all, especially on a global basis, but we in this country and region can at least feel more secure as long as we use our common sense and remain diligent in public and with our interactions with others.
This is the first in a series of correspondence to hopefully get your juices for action flowing and to provide insight into Pennsylvania FIRST Robotics thoughts for the upcoming season in our state. Please read on.
We are delighted to announce that the new FIRST Tech Challenge Season registration is open! The 2021-2022 season’s challenge is called FREIGHT FRENZYSM presented by Raytheon Technologies. In this game “teams will be challenged to race against time to transport essential goods and explore the future of transportation”. Very exciting and timely as we continue to advance into a world where logistics and supply chain management impact so much of our daily lives. Please go to the following link for more information on the season and to initiate your team registration.
As most of you are already aware, since a majority of you participated in the past season, it was conducted by our organization fully through remote events. FIRST HQ FTC leadership and the game design committee provided outstanding resources to enable the season to move forward with a nicely designed game challenge, and a new cloud based remote scoring system which included the capability to schedule Judge interviews. Team support with game elements and robot parts were minimally impacted as well.
Utilizing these tools, and by scheduling a plethora of remote events at all levels, we at PA FIRST Robotics are proud that we were able conduct a full and successful 2020-2021 season culminating in the State Championship in May. Thank you especially to our volunteers for stepping up and to ALL of our teams for their patience, cooperation and continued feedback, all critical to ensure success.
There are many lessons learned from the 2020-2021 season. We have also realized that many of the new tools and techniques we employed were actually progressive and will be maintained this coming season. So, the big question that most of you have is; Will we be conducting “live” events? The answer is YES! In fact, we will likely conduct a hybrid event season, that is majority live workshops, scrimmages and Qualification tournaments with at least one additional Remote tournament. This is to support inclusion for those teams that may still have difficulty with travel or finances and as a hedge should our health environment change again. If your team is interested in hosting a Team Powered Workshop, scrimmage or Qualifier please let us know.
The new season kick-off is scheduled for September 18, 2021. In the past we had conducted 4 state wide live kick-off events. Last season we were relegated to a fully remote kick-off and were dependent on FIRST HQ presentations. On the 18th we will not be travelling to different locations as we have in the past but will instead have a live broadcast for our PA teams which will include the game reveal and active Q&A with our Head Referees. We may also plan workshops (TBD). In this way we can reach out to and interact with more teams and individuals who otherwise may not be able to attend a live event.
In the background we are also working on a greatly enhanced and more interactive website that we feel will delight our teams, especially those veteran team participants. More to come on this as we are shooting for an introduction by kick-off.
We will continue to send out these mails on a regular basis that essentially augment the email blasts that you already receive directly from FIRST. Remember, there is a nice video introducing the general theme for all programs – FIRST ® FORWARD. If you have not done so already, please check it out. You may find additional content (game logos, support materials, etc.) accessing the link below.
Stated tuned as we flesh out the season and please be sure to get your team registered.
Thank you and have a great summer,
Tom Zawislak and Dave Hackett
Pennsylvania FIRST® Robotics
FIRST Tech Challenge® Affiliate Partner