FTC PA 2023-24 Season Blast #1 – Team Registration and Upcoming FTC PA Season

Hello Teams and Volunteers,

Welcome to Pennsylvania FIRST Robotics first email blast of the 2023-2024 Season!

This first email blast is a little long but loaded with information and opportunities, so please bear with me and read on…

Our FTC PA specific Website has not been updated to accommodate the new season or events. It is under construction, so we will update this crucial site over the summer. https://www.ftcpenn.org/ . Thanks for your patience.

This season the FIRST® Robotics theme is FIRST® in SHOWSM presented by Qualcomm. This will be an exciting and the first ever Arts-Inspired season; Lights, camera, STEAM! Science, technology, engineering, arts, and math (STEAM) inspire big ideas, bold action and creativity. FIRST is shining a spotlight on the role STEM plays in the arts and empowering young people to design and build a world of endless possibilities.

The FIRST Tech Challenge game is called CENTERSTAGE presented by Raytheon Technologies. Debuting September 9, 2023, FIRST Tech Challenge teams will raise the curtain on the power of design, creativity, and precision to create all new experiences If you have not viewed the teasers yet, please go to the following link on the FIRST Inspires website:


There are a few very important messages associated with this blast including how our PA teams can get involved with our Pennsylvania FIRST Robotics season planning and participation.

TEAM REGISTRATION with FIRST Inspires is open for the season! Go to the following link for more information on new registration costs and what the team registration includes. This page will give you access to:

  • Dashboard Login
  • Youth Team Member Registration
  • Grant Opportunities (Rookie Grants Available)
  • Team Management Resources
  • Payment Terms


GRANT OPPORTUNITIES: Rookie Grants are now available so please spread the word or take advantage if you are planning on expanding your organizations involvement in FTC.

Please also check out the 2023-2024 Raytheon Technologies Team Grants to see if you may be eligible. Any FIRST team with a Raytheon Technologies (including Raytheon, Collins Aerospace, and Pratt & Whitney) employee mentor and/or coach qualifies for a company sponsored team grant. No location restrictions.

Additionally, there are Rockwell Automation Team Grants available. This team grant opportunity is available for FIRST teams who have a Rockwell Automation employee mentor. It is specific to registration fees so if you are eligible, please apply for the grant prior to paying for your registration through FIRST for the season. You can register; however, you should not pay for your registration as you may forfeit eligibility for your grant.

We expect at least one more grant opportunity that would benefit many PA teams to come to fruition yet this season. We will keep you informed in subsequent blasts but frequently check the following link for grants described above and those that may come available in the future.


PENNSYLVANIA FIRST ROBOTICS SEASON PLANNING: After careful consideration, we have decided to conduct our season as Traditional Events, that is live and in-person Workshops, Scrimmages, Qualifiers and State Championship as we have in past seasons. We did consider the League and Meet formats but feedback from teams and volunteers was that the traditional experience of past seasons was much preferred. We will also have closed borders again, that is only PA teams will be eligible to compete in the state (with potential special exceptions – TBD).

We plan on repeating some event concepts that played out well last year and to also add some new flavors involving team support. For starters:

Season Kick-off – September 9th, 2023 – Last season, our kickoff was a combined virtual webcast with several “live” events around the state. We, and FIRST HQ (NDA required) partnered with four FTC teams who provided suitable facilities east through west to showcase the new field and challenge with open invitations to teams within and outside their respective regions. We would love to partner again with any teams that may be interested. Please let us know if you are by writing to ftc@pennfirst.org with the subject “FTC Season Kick-off Interest”

 Workshops and Scrimmages – We would love for teams to run what we call “Team Powered” workshop, scrimmages and practices again this season. ‘Team Powered” means that the teams that volunteer to hold the event will be principally responsible for identifying, securing and scheduling the venue, field assets and volunteers in order to run the event. Pennsylvania FIRST Robotics will support the event as required to assure quality and consistency including publicizing on our website and handling team registrations if necessary. We will also be sure to provide training and training materials as well as field assets to augment the event only.

If interested, please write to ftc@pennfist.org with the subject “Team Powered Event Interest” and let us know what you have in mind.

Qualifying Tournaments: As stated above, these will be “traditional” events and will be officially planned and conducted by Pennsylvania FIRST Robotics staff and Core volunteers. At this time, we are pursuing more double-weekend events, that is to hold two separate and distinct qualifier events at the same location over a full weekend Friday evening set up through Saturday and Sunday Qualifier events). We have two solid team/host partners so far (4 events) but would like to get at least 10 qualifiers or 3 more weekends total, and perhaps more. We are still working on our schedule but will definitely love to hear from any and all teams willing to Host a qualifier. A host team identifies and assists with scheduling a venue, identifying and proactively recruiting volunteers, competing in their own event but also using the opportunity to fund raise by arranging and selling team meals and other types of sales. It is also a GP and prestigious opportunity for a team to shine within the robotics community.

If interested, please write to ftc@pennfirst.org with the subject “Qualifying Tournament Host Interest”.

BTW The State Championship will be moved to mid-March this coming season (March 16 – 17. 2023) so we hope to be able to expand our schedule while also affording essential rest time for our core volunteers.

TAG TEAMS – Lastly, we are reaching out to Veterans or any other team that may want to become an official PA Tag Team member. What is a Tag Team, you may ask? It is a team or group that has the desire, resources, energy, skills, ability and Gracious Professionalism to assist and support other teams in their endeavor to be the best they can be throughout this coming season. There are many conceptual ways that an FTC Tag Team can be productive and essential to our community of teams inside or outside the region, such as:

  • Be a specific Rookie team mentor
  • Host workshops (ex. Design It!, Build It!, Program It! Drive It!)
  • Travel to other teams for hands on assistance
  • Schedule regular, weekly (or otherwise) Office Hours – on line call times to make your team available to others to answer specific questions or provide guidance.
  • Publish Newsletters or other media to share experiences

I am sure there are many other ideas and concepts that many teams have employed and can share. If interested in becoming a Tag Team member please write to ftc@pennfirst.org with the subject “Tag Team Member Interest” and share your idea with us. We will be sure to communicate your offering with the rest of the community.

That is enough for now. As you can tell, we are excited about the upcoming season and, again, team involvement will be a huge part of our success and fun. Thank you for your attention and there will be more to come.


Tom Zawislak and the FTC PA Team

Pennsylvania FIRST® Robotics
FIRST Tech Challenge® Program Delivery Partner
phone: (302) 383-9925
email: ftc@pennfirst.org
Website: www.FTCPenn.org