Monday, October 17, 2016

FIRST Tech Challenge Registration and Event Status 

Dear FIRST Tech Challenge Community:
Thank you for your patience through the national registration and event sign-up process.

Many of you have contacted me wishing to know several points of information.
1. Is our team's national registration showing as paid? 

2. Did ORTOP receive our team's Event Signup form? 
3. To which event is our team assigned?  - This will be announced after the sign-ups close.
4. When are the deadlines? Monday, October 17th for League and Tuesday, November 1 for non-league  

I have answers for #1 and #2.

Please click and consult the  FIRST Tech Challenge Oregon Registration and Events Status table I prepared this morning, Monday, October 17th. The information is current as of 10:00 am.  It does not update automatically to reflect additional national registrations or event sign ups submitted after that time. I must to that task daily by manually changing the spreadsheet.

 I've represented team status as to national registration and Event Sign-up in text/colors in Column B.

  • No Color - National Registration Paid and Event Sign up received. YAY!! 
  • Bright Yellow - National Registration Paid but Event Signup has NOT been submitted
  • Peach - 2015 Team - Did not re-register for 2016 season,  Event Signup Not Submitted, has not contacted ORTOP to say team will not be participating - please do this.  
  • Goldenrod - National Registration is NOT PAID but event signup submitted 
Please consult the table and check your team numbers to see your status. 
Other Registration and Event Information

League Signups - As of 10:00 am, Monday, October 17th

League Number of teams signed up STATUS 
Beaverton League - Conestoga Park & Rec 17 CLOSED (5 teams will be assigned to Hillsboro) 
Capitol League - Sprague HS 9 Room for 3 more teams 
Central Oregon League - Bend- 3 locations 10 Room for 2 more teams 
Columbia Basin - Pendleton Conv Ctr. (2 Leagues) 26 CLOSED
Hillsboro - Hillsboro HS (2 leagues) 18 Room for 1 more team 
Mid-Columbia- Hood River HS 15 CLOSED
Mid-Western - Junction City HS 11 Room for 1 more team 
Portland - Eastside - Madison HS 8 Room for 4 more teams
Southern Oregon Coast                                  2                Room for 10 more teams 
SOAR                                                       11                 Room for 1 - 4 more teams 

 Non League Event Sign-up - Qualifying Tournaments 

  • OSU - Saturday, Jan 28 - CLOSED - some teams will be assigned to Sunday
  • OSU - Sunday, Jan 29 - OPEN 
  • Hood River, Sunday, Jan 22 - CLOSED
It appears demand for non-league QT events is stronger than last season. ORTOP is looking for a venue and Team Tournament Host  in the Greater Portland area to hold a non-league QT on January 21st. Contact Cathy if your school has a gym/cafeteria, or auditorium/cafeteria, large commons area that is available. 
OTHER NEWS: BENSON BotFest  for October 29th  - Sign up COMING SOON! 

Cathy Swider 

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

OCTOBER 4, 2016 - FIRST Tech Challenge Oregon Event Registration Update 

FIRST Tech Challenge Oregon Event Signup launched last night, October 3rd at 5:00 pm. We've had only a few hiccups. 

  • Thank you to everyone who let me know about the issue with question #10 on the League registration. I've changed it to be not required. It only pertains to teams in the greater Hillsboro and Beaverton area. 
  • Some of you have submitted signup forms using temporary numbers. This means your team is not yet fully nationally registered and paid.  This is a requirement. Your signups will be set aside until you can produce a valid paid registration number.
  • SLOT AVAILABILITY: Before you register for a League or Event - Click here to see if it is full or available. 
  •  I WANT TO KNOW.... if you are having issues with the national FIRST Registration system. I am here to help you work through these issues; please email Cathy Swider. 
    • Issues with getting through YPP- Youth Protection Program screening 
    • Not seeing a FIRST related grant that you know you received applied to your team account. 
    • Fill in the blank _______________________________________
  • The Sliding Scale for Payment. This season there is a sliding scale to pay for events. It ranges from full cost of program to a minimum fee which is the same as last year. To receive a discount, simply indicate how much of a discount you are requesting and click one of the boxes provide a reason. We fully understand that many of you will not be able to pay more than what you did last season. ORTOP is actively seeking additional sponsors to bridge the gap between the cost of running FIRST Tech Challenge Oregon and what our participating teams can pay.
  • Using the ORTOP Payment online system. We have a new payment system for receiving the payments to ORTOP. So far only one coach has reported an issue with making a payment. It's a technical glitch that we are working to resolve. Everyone else had no issues. 

That's all for now!  Onward! 

Sunday, October 2, 2016

OCTOBER 2, 2016

Tech Challenge Oregon Community:

We have enough of the schedule confirmed to go forward with FIRST Tech Challenge Oregon Event SIGN-UP tomorrow, MONDAY, October 3rd at 5:00 PM. 
Links to register will be sent to this email list just prior to 5:00 pm - 10/3/2016. The Sign-up form for events will be per Team, not per school.

  • LEAGUE SIGN-UP CLOSES on OCTOBER 15th at 11:59 pm - This will allow me time to create league rosters. Assignments will be posted by October 22nd if not sooner. 
  • NON-LEAGUE SIGN -UP CLOSES on NOVEMBER 1st at 11:59 pm - Teams will be informed of their assigned event by November 10th.
Teams should be national registered and paid prior to signing up for an event. You can check the status of your teams at the link below or by checking your team profile on the dashboard.

 To nationally register and pay for your team see these links for assistance or contact me by email.

FIRST Tech Challenge Oregon - SCHEDULE OF EVENTS and Venue information
Link to Schedule of League Meets, League Qualifying Tournaments, Non-Qualifying Tournaments, Oregon Super-Qualifiers, Championship and more

  • If a team signs up for a League, it means the team will participate in the League Meets and the League Qualifying Tournament associated with selected League.
  • If a teams signs up for a non-League Qualifying Tournament, it means the team will not participate in any League Events.
  • League teams are not permitted to sign-up for non-League Qualifying Tournaments.
  • Teams who select Non- League Qualifying Tournaments will be asked preference of events but be assigned to one event only.
  • Schools/Organizations with multiple teams can choose all  League or Non-League, or choose a split with some teams in League and some teams in Non-League.
FIRST Tech Challenge Oregon - Tournament Fee Policy 2016 
Please read the updated 2016-2017 Tournament Fee Policy

FALL WORKSHOP - 8th Annual Benson BotFest - for rookies and veterans

ANNOUNCING THE BENSON BotFest 2016 - Saturday, October 29th - Online Signup to be posted after event launch sometime this week.

If you have questions about registering, please send me an email.

Cathy Swider 

Important Game Material Updates
Critical updates have been made to the following game materials:

·         Field Setup Guide (critical update) – Tape instructions have been changed for the Center Vortex base plate. The original guide instructions showed the blue and red tape that outlines the base being placed half on the base and half on the tiles. With this critical update, the blue and red tape should be placed entirely on the edges of the base. This will not only allow for an easier setup from event to event, but will help partners conserve gaffers tape. Please see step 7-1 in the Field Setup Guide for these updated instructions.

·         Field Assembly Guide – A new paint code has been added to assist those who cannot have the “Mouse Ears” paint mixed at their local Home Depot. The additional color is Behr “Blackout”, paint code number N510-7, semi-gloss (base 3300).

·         Game Manual Part 2 – An image was updated in section 1.3, Figure 1.3-1 to reflect accurate measurements of the Center Vortex height.  

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

FIRST Tech Challenge Kickoff Week! September 10th

September 16, 2016

Happy back to school week! Wishing everyone a great start to the new academic season. 

FIRST Tech Challenge OREGON Kickoff 2016 

Please save time to attend our FIRST Tech Challenge Kickoff on Saturday, September 10th at one of four locations across the state - Portland - The Dalles - Bend - Medford. Each site will have a field and the new game elements for you to see and touch, measure and ponder. 
Portland and Medford sites will attempt to live stream their events in case you can't attend in person. 

Please click this link for detailed information about our kickoff plans.
Coaches please click the KICKOFF RSVP link so that we can print appropriate numbers of handouts and if you are attending in Medford, that they can order lunch.
Everyone is invited to attend. Please bring someone new to FTC,  team members, a prospective mentor or volunteer. We'll need about 700 league meet and tournament volunteers this season. 

Beacon Updating Veteran teams are encouraged to bring last year's beacons to kickoff sites for reprogramming. ORTOP has purchased the AndyMark re-programmers for updating the beacon firmware for this season's game. This will save your team $64. ORTOP is happy to provide this service. We'll be sending more re-programmers to League sites. We encourage non-league teams to visit a league meet to have their beacons updated. If that is not possible, contact Cathy Swider to make other arrangements for updating. 


2016 FIRST Tech Challenge Field Elements

Building your 2016 Field Elements instead of buying from AndyMark. Wise or unwise this season?

This past weekend our Championship Field Technical Advisor  Dale Jordan built 4 sets of 2016 Game Elements for Kickoff Day.  This season FTC will release building plans in case teams want to build their own set of elements.  We asked Dale to consider if it would save teams time/money and what he would recommend teams do.

Dale's recommendation to teams is to purchase at least a half field of elements from AndyMark because of the variety of building materials needed to source. To have the optimum field conditions present in team practices that will be at competition events,his opinion is it would be best to use the field kits sold by AndyMark. Teams should look at the field elements and make their own best decision. 

Should we join a League or stay a QT team or switch from League to QT? What is the best choice for your team? 

FIRST Tech Challenge Oregon is a hybrid FTC region offering both League and Non-League participation options. Choosing the best fit for your team is made by the Coaches, Mentors, Team Members with input from parents/guardians as well as school administrators. 

As of today, September 6th we anticipate having 11 leagues in the communities of Beaverton, Hillsboro, Portland, Hood River, Bend (Central Oregon), Pendleton (2), Salem, Springfield, Roseburg and a new league in the Port Orford area on the Southern Oregon Coast. Each league will have approximately 12 teams each, some a few more, some a few less. 

Leagues will hold team meetings and attend three or four league meets, about 4-hours in length League Meets in November and December and ALL league teams participate in a League Qualifying Tournament. Pros and information about  Leagues:
  • Provides teams a jump start to the season and encourages iterative design meaning the robot is improved upon during the two weeks between league meets. 
  • Teams do not need to be fully ready with a completely built robot to participate. The robot evolves over the 7-week League meet season. 
  • Provides teams driving experience prior to qualifying tournament competition. 
  • Teams accumulate Qualifying Points and Ranking Points during League Meets. Best 10 Qualifying Points with their associated Ranking Points are carried to the League Qualifying Tournament. All League Teams participate in the Tournament
  • Teams learn what does and does not work in real competition prior to attending the League Qualifying Tournament in January. Frequently league teams will collaborate and assist each other in solving building, IT and programming issues. It is a collaborative community of teams.  
Non-League teams hold team meetings in the fall where they design and work on their robot in November and December prior to the Non-League Qualifying Tournament in January. 

  • Non-league teams design and work on their robot between September and January on the schedule that best works for them prior to the Non-League Qualifying Tournament held in January. 
  • Non-league teams only compete with other non-league teams at the Non-League Qualifying Tournament. 
  • Teams work independently on their robot or with other teams at their school. 
  • Non-league teams can attend informal scrimmages if offered by other non-league teams to gain field experience. 
  • Non-league is a good option for teams with team members who have very busy schedules and do not wish to commit to a fall league schedule. Also, travel budget constraints may impact a team's decision to be a non-league team. 
  • All tournament sign ups will open on September 15th. 
  • Signups for League Teams will close on October 1st. Meaning if you are not signed up by October 1 you'll be a non-league team. If a league is over subscribed in a specific area, teams will be chosen on a first come, first serve basis.  All teams not 
  • Signups for Non-League Teams will close on October 15th. 
  • All teams must be nationally registered and paid to signup a tournament in Oregon. 
  • All league teams compete in a League Qualifying Tournament.
  • All non-league teams compete in a Non-League Qualifying Tournament.
  • Teams can only compete in one advancing tournament prior to Super-Qualifiers. 
  • Approximately 1/2 of League Teams will advance from the League Qualifying Tournament to a Super-Qualifier Tournament held in February. 
  • Approximately 1/2 of Non- League teams will advance from Non-League Qualifying Tournaments to a Super-Qualifier Tournament held in February. 
  • All four Super-Qualifiers are a mix of both League and Non-League teams at each event. 
  • Approximately half of Super-Qualifier teams will advance to the State Championship. 
  • FIRST will determine the number of slots for Oregon teams for FTC West Super-Regional Championship in March. Last season Oregon was awarded 14 slots.
And finally..... What would a kickoff blog post be without a game hint? Keep your game guesses to yourself....remember the game is a secret until September 10, 2016 at noon Eastern Daylight Time. shhhhh..........
Respectfully submitted,

Cathy Swider 

Thursday, August 25, 2016

FIRST Tech Challenge Oregon

FIRST Tech Challenge OREGON Kickoff 2016 

Saturday, September 10th - GAME REVEAL  at 9:00 am - Doors open about 15 minutes prior.  

Everyone is invited to attend. Registered teams, non-registered teams, kids and adults wanting to find out more about FIRST Tech Challenge, volunteers and prospective volunteers. Come to a kick-off and bring a friend. Please pass the word about the kickoff to anyone you know that wants to start a team. I don't have those email addresses...yet. 

FIRST Tech Challenge Oregon will host four kickoff events at the following locations. 
  • Daimler Trucks North America Headquarters, 4555 N. Channel Avenue, Portland
  • The Dalles High School,  220 E. 10th Street, The Dalles
  • Summit High School, 2855 Clearwater Drive, Bend
  • St. Mary’s School, 816 Black Oak Drive, Medford

Additional Information 

FIRST Tech Challenge curriculum 

NEW THIS SEASON! FIRST Tech Challenge is making FIRST Tech Challenge curriculum available. This is geared for FTC in the classroom but I feel it could benefit any team.  To sign up for access to the curriculum materials - CLICK HERE 



  • 10 veteran FTC Teams and 5 rookie FTC received funding from Daimler Trucks North America: Education in Motion 

  • A record number of rookie and veteran FTC Oregon teams received Oregon Department of Education funding. 
  • Two more possible sources of funding 
  • NOTE: If you have already registered your team and paid, your team is not eligible for this grant. This is only a grant credit. It is offered through the national FIRST Tech Challenge organization in Manchester, NH
  • ORTOP Team Support Awards - Oregon Robotics Tournament & Outreach Program as the FTC Oregon Affiliate Partner, makes available a small number of Team Support Awards from our own sponsors for both rookie teams and veteran teams. 
    • NOTE: If your team applied but did not receive a Daimler award, your application for ONE TEAM will be entered into the pool of applicants for an ORTOP Team Support Award. 
    • NOTE: If you want to apply for more than one team, you must complete a separate application for each team. If you did not apply for Daimler, you can still submit an application. I expect that all funds will be depleted by Sept. 30th. Applying by Sept. 15th would be wise. 


All summer long FIRST Oregon teams at all levels have been out and about in our communities promoting FIRST!  Oregon Robotics Tournament & Outreach Program appreciates the time you've encouraging others to Get Involved in FIRST as team members, mentors, coaches or volunteers.
If your team spent time doing outreach or conducted a workshop for rookies we want to hear about it AND we want to acknowledge your good work with a MAKE FIRST LOUD ribbon. 

To apply for a MAKE FIRST LOUD ribbon(s) for an event(s) your team made happen CLICK HERE and FILL OUT THE Make FIRST Loud FORM.  One form per event. 

Here is our MAKE FIRST LOUD team event board (so far) for 2016. Submit a form and have your team recognized. 
Teams can hang their Make FIRST Loud ribbons in their pit at competitions to show everyone your commitment to help others Get Involved in FIRST. 

Only activities that occurred between May 1 - October 1, 2016 are eligible. 

And finally...... look forward to a brand new e-newsletter about everything ORTOP! First edition will be published the first week of September 2016. 


Tuesday, July 12, 2016

July 12, 2016

Tech Challenge Oregon Community:

2016/2017 FIRST Tech Challenge Game Materials 
Game Manual I has been published. Great summer reading for teams, mentors and volunteers. Read between the lines for game hints. :-)

Field Beacons 
Yes, it has been released that there will be 4 Beacons in this season's game. There is an upgrade kit that can be purchased from AndyMark.  PLEASE NOTE: ORTOP will be purchasing multiple Beacon Programmer Tools that will be distributed to League sites around Oregon. All teams, league and non-league can bring their beacons to a site for the firmware update at no cost.

FIRST Tech Challenge Oregon Tournament Fee Structure Change

An email send to the ORTOP Community by Bruce Schafer, ORTOP Executive Director, outlined the new tournament fee structure change implemented by an executive committee of the ORTOP Board of Directors.  If you have questions, comments about this change, please direct an email to Cathy Swider.  The new policy is as follows: 

(1) ORTOP Registration Fee Changes for the 2016-2017 Season

As most of you know, the registration fees charged by ORTOP cover only a portion of the cost of operating our FIRST programs in Oregon. Fortunately, we have been able to recruit sponsor dollars to make up most of the difference but most sponsors want us to use their donations to help teams that couldn’t participate otherwise. To help assure the sponsor dollars are used most effectively, we have decided to make the estimated full cost per team more visible. Starting with the fall 2016 seasons we are asking teams to pay twice the amount as last year but giving them the option to pay less than that amount. The minimum fee for the upcoming season will be same as the full fee for last season.  Starting this fall, the ORTOP registration system will provide an easy way to request a discount and give a reason for the request.  All requests that are completely filled out will be honored at least for the upcoming season.

Teams that need additional financial assistance can apply for ORTOP team financial support by filling out an online application:

We request that teams that have adequate funding pay the full ORTOP registration fees to help ORTOP cover the cost of its programs and provide these programs to more youth in the future.                                                        


  • Last year the ORTOP registration fee for an FIRST LEGO League qualifying tournament was $100.  This year the requested fee will be $200.  If the person registering the team for the tournament feels the team cannot afford the full fee, he or she can pay the full fee or request that ORTOP sponsor funds be used to bring the fee down to as low as $100. The reason for the request can be documented by checking a few boxes during the payment process.
  • Last year the ORTOP registration fee for an FIRST Tech Challenge Qualifying tournament was $150.  This year the requested fee will be $300.  If the person registering the team for the tournament feels the team cannot afford the full fee, he or she can pay the full fee or request that ORTOP sponsor funds be used to bring the fee down to as low as $150. The reason for the request can be documented by checking a few boxes during the payment process.
  • Last year the ORTOP registration fee for an FIRST Tech Challenge league play was $75 and the registration fee for a league championship was $150. This year the requested fee for the combination of league play and the league qualifying tournament will be $450.  If the person registering the team for the league feels the team cannot afford the full fee, he or she can pay the full fee or request that ORTOP sponsor funds be used to bring the fee down to as low as $225. The reason for the request can be documented by checking a few boxes during the payment process.
Tournament Fee
Tournament Event
2016/17 – Full Cost
Sliding Scale
FTC League & Tournament
Qualifying Tournament

ORTOP integration with Oregon FIRST Robotics Competition
As of July 1, 2016, the Oregon Robotics Tournament & Outreach Program, integrated with FIRST Robotics Competition Oregon.  This integration is limited to fundraising and promotion of the 4 FIRST programs together; FIRST LEGO League Junior, FIRST LEGO League, FIRST Tech Challenge and FIRST Robotics Competition.  The integration will also include hiring Cindy Labeau as Development Director (former Oregon FIRST Regional Director)  and someone as paid Executive Director. Debbie Kerr will remain as the FIRST Senior Mentor serving all four programs. The FIRST Robotics Competition district events and district championship will be organized and implemented by FIRST Washington.  Please join me in welcoming FRC to ORTOP. 

Check for links to "Getting Started in FTC" and "What Veteran Teams should know", plus national registration links,  funding resources and outreach activities. 

Cathy Swider
FIRST Tech Challenge Affiliate Partner 

Friday, May 27, 2016

MAY 27, 2016

May 27, 2016

Grant and Team Support Award Opportunities
Complete information for Oregon teams located here.
Diamler: Education in Motion - May 31st ODE - June 17th NOW!!!! -  FIRST is offering their annual FIRST Tech Challenge  Registration Grant for Rookies and Veterans. Easy one page application.
Again a clarification on the Daimler Team Support Award. Schools can apply for only one team; either rookie or veteran, but not both. You must choose.

Our FIRST in Oregon families are invited to the Portland Stags game on June 4th at 3:00 pm at Milwaukie HS .  Hot Wired was invited to demo their robot and will be sharing the spotlight with other FIRST Teams. FREE GEEK will be there collecting unwanted electronic stuff and there will be a DRONE OBSTACLE COURSE Show at halftime.  PLUS you can watch the PORTLAND STAGS take on the the Vancouver Nighthawks.  This is  fun family event for everyone. Tickets are 20% off when you use the discount code ROBOT.  CLICK HERE FOR FLYER

We had an absolute blast at the Wy’East Lodge at Timberline on Saturday, May 21st. 12 Oregon FTC Teams made their way up the mountain to compete at our first MAKE FIRST LOUD off-season event. We ran a mini tournament plus we made time for guests to drive the robots, learn about FIRST and we shared our MAKE FIRST LOUD ideas with each other! Look for a video to be release in the near future. Our thanks to our Oregon FTC Volunteers for helping make the event possible and to Tammy Villali at Timberline Lodge for being a gracious and welcoming host.

ADDITIONAL SUMMER MAKE FIRST LOUD OPPORTUNITIES - If your team volunteers for a MAKE FIRST LOUD event - We’ll give your team an awesome  MAKE FIRST LOUD Award Ribbon.
Oregon International Air Show - Aug 6 & 7 - Help run the 3D BOT RACES!!! Run the LEGO Table of Awesome, demo FTC Robots.  SIGN UP!
Oregon State Fair - Wednesday, August 31st - Hopefully we’ll have 12 teams to run another tournament live at the State Fair. Want to win a prize winning Blue Ribbon at the State Fair for FIRST Tech Challenge? Sign up!

Dale Jordan, our Championship Field Technical Advisor, strongly advises teams to send your Modern Robotics electronic units back to Modern Robotics for the firmware update.  You will be happy you did it. Complete information at this link

For those of you who have already registered for the 2016-2017 season, we have been informed the STIMS function in not available yet. See national FTC Team Blast email dated 5/26.