2016-2017 Email Blast #6

Louisiana FIRST Tech Challenge Coaches,

I hope everyone had pleasant holidays!  We’re starting our competition season – and I have awards in boxes in my front hall to prove it.

1. Qualifier Registrations  *** sorry for the short notice but PLEASE submit your registrations as soon as possible ***
2. Dean’s List Award nominations
3. Volunteers needed
4. STIMS registration
5. Blocks programming software

6. Tips for getting ready for competition

  1. Qualifier Registrations (deadlines)

    Here are links to Google forms to register your teams for the two qualifiers.  Please respond by the deadline so we can have things prepared for your team.  The first deadline is next Thursday January 12 for the January 21 qualifier:

LA FTC Qualifier 1 registration (please register by Thursday January 12): https://goo.gl/forms/cRm0A68PeodjjaK93

LA FTC Qualifier 2 registration (please register by Saturday January 28): https://goo.gl/forms/xJwmIsrkVNaN3wqy1

You’ll need to do both forms to register for both qualifiers.

I will check the tournament fee payments with FIRST LA-MS and let you know if .you’re not all set there.

  1. Dean’s List Award nominations (deadline)

Another important deadline for some of your students is coming up.

In an effort to recognize the leadership and dedication of FIRST’s most outstanding FIRST Tech Challenge students, the Kamen family sponsors an Award for selected top students known as the FIRST Dean’s List. Each FIRST Tech Challenge Team is invited to select up to two (2) students who are in the 10th or 11th grade (sophomores or juniors).

The deadline to make a submission is the 15th of the month prior to the event at which the student will be interviewed – the Qualifying Tournaments. For the February event, the deadline to nominate a student for the Dean’s List Award is January 15, 2016.

For more information about the Dean’s List nomination, please review the Dean’s List Submission Guide on the FIRST website:


  1. Volunteers needed (!!)

    Here is a call for volunteers for our events.  Please broadcast this, especially if you have friendly contacts at local industrial, engineering, or technical firms:

    There is a STEM outreach volunteer opportunity for the FIRST Tech Challenge high school robotics competition in Louisiana.  These are one-day competitions on these Saturdays:

    Jan 21   Academy of Our Lady         Marrero, LA
    Feb 11   Woodlawn High School        Baton Rouge, LA
    Mar 4    University of New Orleans   New Orleans, LA

    The events run approximately 7:00 AM to 5:00 PM, but some positions can be filled for part of the day, or the day before the event. Some positions also require 1-2 hours of online training and certification in advance.  We can use both technical and non-technical volunteers.

    A list of position descriptions and other info is available at www.ftclouisiana.org/wordpress/volunteers.

    Please contact Clark Rowley if you have any questions (c_rowley@bellsouth.net; 228-688-5809 (o); 985-285-8455 (c)).

  1. STIMS registration

You need to bring a full team roster with completed consent/release forms for your students and adult mentor/coaches to *each* event.  Online registration through STIMS is the easiest way to manage this – except when it isn’t. FIRST has noticed that some teams are having trouble adding students to their team account with the updated website.

See the FIRST website for more information on how to add students to your team:


I haven’t reviewed this completely, but the FRC team the NUTRONS posted a walkthrough of the registration process, starting from the student registration, that might be helpful for your parents:


  1. Blocks programming software

In November I mentioned a new way to program the robot was on the way – a new visual programming environment that allows development directly on the robot controller phone over a wifi connection using a browser from a laptop or tablet, and no need to unplug and replug the robot phone to update the code on the robot.

FIRST now has the manual up.  I wouldn’t recommend abandoning your working software just days before a qualifier, but you may yet have time to test it out for this season:


  1. Competition tips and reminders

Last, I borrowed some tips for coaches and teams from our friendly FTC neighbors in Mississippi:

A couple of quick pointers to help you at the competitions:

  1. Read and review the judging criteria in Part 1 of the game manual with your teams. Make sure you meet all the requirements of each award that interests you.
  2. One or two coaches/mentors are allowed in to the judging rooms during the team’s interview, but they need to be silent during the presentation.  Remember: it’s all about the kids and what they’ve learned in order to be considered for an award.
  3. We may have large qualifiers, so we may need to turn matches over quickly. We will need teams to be in the queue ready to play each match.  Please pay heed to match queuers as they help you get ready.
  4. Remember to bring spare parts, extension cords and power strips, and other necessary elements to each competition.
  5. Make check lists that you do before and after each match.  For example, a) put robot on field; b) turn on robot; c) make sure phone is running application; d) make sure phone is connected to driver’s station app; e) etc.

Some tips to remember as you prepare and attend the upcoming qualifiers:

  1. Please remind your team, their families and friends, and anyone else attending the qualifiers with you to leave any WiFi Devices at home. If they do bring them, please do not have them near the competition area.  These include WiFi hotspots, Nintendo 3DS peer-to-peer networks, ad-hoc networks, and any strong bluetooth and wifi connections with the Robots. Violations may lead to a disqualification of the entire team from the event.
  2. Please have your students sign up for your team on your roster and remember to print a roster to be turned in at team check-in when you arrive at a qualifier.
  3. Don’t forget to come prepared to inspection with a self-inspection checklist complete for both the robot and field inspectors. There is a self-inspection app on the driver’s station and robot controller apps that lets you see where you might fail.
  4. If you a preparing for inspection, please note that your cell phones should be at the correct Android version number.  If you are using a ZTE phone, the Android version should be 4.4 or higher. If you are using any other phone, the Android version should be at 6.0 or higher. Also, please do not use Android version 5.X as there is a known issue of only recognizing only one USB device.


Comments are closed.