Friday, June 1, 2018

Happy June! 

MONDAY, JUNE 4th - 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm  (3 days from NOW)
ORTOP evening at OMSI! See Robot Revolution 

Mentors, please forward the invite  to team members(team parents), your volunteer, mentors, sponsors. 
This does not need to be a team organized event---teams members, family, friends, supporters can come to this special event. Even if you don't download a ticket, come anyway! It's okay! Just say "Cathy invited me!"  No worries about the suggest donation, just come, we want to fill the place.

Resources for Team Planning on the ORTOP Website

I have been adding to the ORTOP website, specifically, the FTC Team Resources page. Here are the topics. Check back to the page for updates. As I find key links and more resources this is where I post them. 

***HOT TOPICS*** for FIRST Tech Challenge Oregon TEAMS

Hearing from you about  FIRST Tech Challenge Workshops 
Mentors, if you haven't taken our very brief survey about developing FIRST Tech Challenge Workshops, please do. If I receive few responses (which I have), I'll need to assume there is no interest in taking workshops and therefore no need to develop them. If you think there are enough resources already available, please tell us. 
  CAMPS, Workshops, FUN!  - Check it out! 
----One more slot open for the PCC Machine Shop Skills for August session 
----Many slots open for the Chick Tech Robotics BootCamp 
----Is your team offering a workshop or summer camp? Let us know, we'll post it.  We really would like to see some FTC workshops happening this summer. 

Congratulations to all of our FIRST Tech Challenge Seniors who are walkin' across the stage and collecting their hard earned high school diplomas. We are very proud of you and wish you the best of luck in your next endeavors.  Your FIRST life continues as FIRST Alum.  Sign up to receive notifications of events, networking opportunities and more. (Mentors please forward this to your seniors)
Formal School Recognition of FIRST Tech Challenge Students - Varsity Pins, etc 
Also - I would like to hear from anyone whose school honors FIRST Tech Challenge students with Varsity Pins, or other formal recognition.  Please email me and share what the school does and what process you needed to go through to make it happen.

You have a friend on Facebook - US!!! 
We share fun stuff like this video 

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

 In today's update:

  •  FIRST Tech Challenge national registration is now open.  What you need to know.
  •  ORTOP financial team support awards and FIRST grants. What is the difference?
  •  Your opinions count! Survey of FTC Mentors about FTC Workshops for Mentors. We've received a modest grant and we are developing mentor workshops. We want to hear from our mentors to help guide our direction 
  • OMSI Fun Family Night at OMSI - June 4th - Free ticket download
ADDED 5/16/18 -Weight limit for robots will be 42 pounds for the 2018-2019 season. Read about it here 


FIRST Tech Challenge national registration is now open
It is a requirement for competition that every team have a paid national registration with two mentors who have passed background screening.

 In the interest of blog space .....
                              Q&A and detailed info about FTC National Registration can be found here 

ORTOP financial team support awards and FIRST grants. What is the difference?
  • FIRST Grants available through this page and the MJ Murdock Charitable Trust Grant via FIRST but initiated by the FTC Affiliate Partner in Oregon result in CREDITS for the team in the FIRST Storefront. Depending on the grant, these will be a CREDIT for national registration and/or a CREDIT for equipment product purchased through the FIRST Storefront. 
    • Warning: If you apply for either of these FIRST organization related grants, your national registration must remain unpaid until notified if you received or did not receive the FIRST grant or MJ Murdock Charitable Trust Grant 
  • ORTOP Team Support Awards (OTSA) - ORTOP, as the FTC Oregon Affiliate Partner and a separate organization from FIRST, fundraises money for teams from sponsors such as Rockwell Collins, Qorvo, Garmin, Google, etc and funds from the Oregon Department of Education grant to ORTOP. Teams complete an ORTOP application and if awarded, ORTOP sends a check to the team to spend on allowable items including national registration, FTC Oregon tournament fees, Robot parts, tools, travel, etc. Sometimes, the award will be a waiver of tournament fees instead of a check. 
  • ORTOP Team Support Award Application will be available online by May 17th - click here 
Survey of FTC Mentors about FTC Workshops for Mentors 
Your opinions count!  We've received a modest grant and we are developing mentor workshops. We want to hear from our mentors to help guide our direction.

 OMSI - Fun Family Science Night - June 4th - 6 pm - 8 pm -- FREE! 
ORTOP is taking over OMSI for two hours on June 4th.
Come see the fascinating and informative Robot Revolution traveling exhibit.
Team Members, Mentors, Volunteers, Sponsors, Alumni, and Friends and Family Supporters are invited to come.   This event is FREE Admission but tickets are required, please share the ticket link with you team members and their families. CLICK HERE 


Tuesday, May 8, 2018

And we SO appreciate our Teacher Mentors and Volunteers. You are amazing. Your dedication to your students, the red tape and paperwork you wade through to make it happen,  the extra mile you go to help your students experience and  succeed in this unconventional learning program we call FIRST.  THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU!

Springing into fall.....
Before you know it, FIRST Tech Challenge Kickoff  for ROVER RUCKUS will be here on September 8th at 9:00 am PDT and soon we'll all be rolling across some unknown planetary surface picking up rocks, digging up soil, taking cool selfies....having tons of fun. 
  • National registration will be open soon. How soon? Although I do not have an exact date, I imagine it will open in the next 2 weeks, if not sooner.   
  • ORTOP is MAY 15 as the targeted date to open ORTOP Team Support Award Application
          • Again, we'll have a one application that covers the Oregon Department of Education funding as well as corporate and private foundation funding.  
  • JULY 1 - Mark your calendars! Rover Ruckus Game Manual 1 is released. Take it to the beach and read it.
Preparing for the new season 
    • If your team is offering a summer camp for FIRST Tech Challenge or FIRST LEGO League, let us know and we'll promote it for you. Send pdf flyer for posting to Cathy Swider. 

    • Chick Tech/ ORTOP - Robotics Bootcamp for Girls - July 16 - 20, 2018 - PCC Rock Creek Campus 
      • Designed for middle school and high school young women interested in or plan to be on a FIRST Tech Challenge or FIRST Robotics Competition team for the first time in fall 2018.  Hands-on fun for this fall's rookie team members! 
      • Link with more information and sign-up! 
    • PCC Rock Creek - Robotics Shop Training 
      • CO-ED Camp: July 23 - 27 
      • Girls Only: August 6 - 10 
      • only two team members per FTC or FRC team will be accepted (read application) 
      •  only open to FIRST team members 14 years of age or older. 
      • Deadline to apply is May 30th 
      • Link with more information and sign-up 
 We're working with OMSI in Portland to have an exclusive ORTOP night at the museum, including the Robot Revolution exhibit! Mark your calendars for June 4th! Details to follow.  All FIRST Teams, mentors, volunteers, sponsors, family and friend supporters in Oregon are invited. Online Registration will be required-- target date is May 15 to open up ticket sign-ups.  I saw the exhibit a few  weeks ago. It is AMAZING!

In connection with the Robot Revolution exhibit, ORTOP has been asked to contribute to an add-on special event on June 16th and 17th. We'll be looking for teams to be at our table and demo a bot and talk to the public about being involved in FIRST. Will be setting up shifts.  Interested? email Cathy Swider.

FACEBOOK FUN!! LIKE US   - And see us first  :-)   (sorry, I'm not much of a tweeter)
 Interesting links, see what other FTC Programs are doing, informative tutorials, see helpful news that is not usually included in the blog.   

Friday, April 27, 2018

#7750 Mechanical Maniacs from Sutherlin, Oregon WON the FIRST Tech Challenge World Championship as the Winning Alliance Captains after going undefeated in qualification matches!

Our ten FIRST Tech Challenge teams who competed at World did very well. Although I (Cathy Swider) didn't travel to Houston, I watched about 85% of the qualification matches during the event via live stream and 100% of the elimination rounds and the awards.
A few reflections (maybe somewhat biased but I'm among friends):

  • To view the FIRST World Championship page on the ORTOP website - click here 
  • Overall our Oregon teams competed very well. In most matches, the Oregon teams appeared to be the stronger in alliances. Losses usually came when mechanical failures occurred, or when paired with teams who were not nearly as strong and the opposing alliance bested them. 
  • Perseverance - There is NO QUIT in OREGON. Oregon teams came back and played as hard and strong as they could when adversity struck or a drop in the rankings happened. 
    • A special shoutout to Bytes of KitKats who in their last qualification match #129 had their alliance partner tip over, KitKats pushed them to right the robot and in the process have their own robot tip. They did not give up and mid-match somehow, someway the KitKat robot tipped back up, unaided, and started to score. They did not quit. Even with all of the lost time, they lost the match by only one point 367-366 against two of the stronger ranked teams.  "Most dramatic match of the event" - Nick Hammes, emcee 
  • Oregon had 4 teams in the elimination round. 
    • Franklin Division: #1 Alliance- Mechanical Maniacs - Alliance. Cap and #3 Alliance Overcharged - Alliance Cap. It was very hard for me  to watch our Oregon teams compete against each other in the Franklin Division Finals. 
    • Jemison Division - #3 Alliance #12808- ReVamped Robotics - 1st pick and #4 Alliance #11089 Bytes of KitKats.  Lost their battle in semi-finals. 
  • Dean's List! Our 4 Dean's List Finalists -Gordon Dauterman, TNT, Advaith Nair, Overcharged, James Shea, Jury Riggers. Aliris Tang, Gifted Gears along with Shishir (for FRC but is also on FTC ReVamped Robotics) attended the Dean's List luncheon. Although none of them were named as a Dean's List winner, they were treated to remarks given by and had their photos taken with Dean Kamen. 
  • Awards! 


What's up NEXT!

I am so excited. We are going into SPACE! Everyone! FLLJr., FLL, FTC, FRC. Space! 

ROVER RUCKUS is our FTC game. Let the guessing begin!!
Is there a game hint in the teaser video? 
Brief timeline:
National Registration opens early May
Game Reveal / Kick off - Sept 8

Also starting with this season, we will be referring to it as the 2019 season to reflect the year when our season ends.  Just skipping over 2018.  It's like a time space continuum thing. No worries.  


Save the date! We're working with OMSI in Portland to have an exclusive FIRST night at the museum, including the Robot Revolution exhibit! Mark your calendars for June 4th! Details to follow.  All FIRST Teams and volunteers in Oregon are invited. Online Registration will be required-- setting it up in early May.  I saw the exhibit last week. It is AMAZING!

In connection with the Robot Revolution exhibit, ORTOP has been asked to contribute to an add-on special event on June 16th and 17th. We'll be looking for teams to be at our table and demo a bot and talk to the public about being involved in FIRST. Will be setting up shifts.  Interested? email Cathy Swider.


More next week about FTC Registration, Team Support Award Applications and getting input on the future of FIRST Tech Challenge in Oregon.

Cathy Swider
FIRST Tech Challenge Oregon Affiliate Partner

Wednesday, March 14, 2018


    • Financial Report for Team Support Award
  • FIRST LEGO League Junior EXPOS!!! 
  • FTC West Super-Regional Report 
  • Well wishes for Quentin and Christy
Financial Report for Team Support Award

LINK TO SEASON END COACH SURVEY  (and financial report) 

Your opinions count.  All Mentors/ Coaches are encouraged to complete a short season end survey to provide us feedback on your perspectives of the program 

IF YOUR TEAM(s) RECEIVED ORTOP TEAM SUPPORT AWARD FUNDS FROM ANY OF THESE SOURCES, you are required to complete the survey/report form:
  • Oregon Department of Education
  • Rockwell Collins
  • Google Data Center Funds
  • MJ Murdock Charitable Trust
  • Qorvo 
  • Garmin
  • Maxim Integrated
  • Team members are needed to serve as Reviewers for FIRST LEGO League Jr on March 17 & 18 at OMSI in Portland .  
  • Several FIRST Tech Challenge team members are needed for each expo. 
  • Volunteers can sign up for one 4-hour shift or all day! 
  • Team members will be trained as reviewers on site just prior to the expo, so it is very important to be on time. This is a great way to inspire future engineers!  
  • This year's theme is AQUA ADVENTURE, so reviewers will get to see lots of creative ideas about human water use. 
  • To sign up, please use this form .  Please sign up by Friday morning. 

Teens are needed for events at Umpqua Community College on May 19, and The Dalles Readiness Center on May 19th as well.
Also, seeking FIRST Tech Challenge young women team members and adult women mentors to volunteer for Girl Scout Girl Fest on Saturday, March 24.
Contact Loridee at


 Tech Challenge West Super-Regional Championship

The fifth and final FIRST Tech Challenge West Super-Regional Championship is over!  Our fourteen FTC Oregon teams representing us did so with gracious professionalism and determination to compete. 

6590 Ratchet Robotics /  Aumsville
7750 Mechanical Maniacs / Sutherlin
7776 Loose Screws / Portland
8045 Gromit's Grommets / Pleasant Hill
8132 Kraxberger Gear Heads/ Gladstone
8176 Steelhead / Hood River
8372 TNT (Trial N Terror) / Medford
8610 ToborTech / Lake Oswego
8949 The Gifted Gears / Portland
10925 Spartacles / Beaverton
11089 Bytes of Kitkats / Portland
11441 Chronobreak / McMinnville
12599 Overcharged / Portland

12808 RevAmped Robotics / Portland

The cryptoboxes filled with Ciphers, jewels were flying, glyphs disappeared quickly and high scores achieved!  Six Oregon Teams were doing the picking or being picked for the elimination round.
In the end 9 of our 14 teams advanced to the FIRST Tech Challenge World Championship.  Solid Engineering Notebooks supporting their work helped several teams win awards that led to their advancement.

Moving on to the FIRST Tech Challenge World Championship in  Houston - April 18 - 21 is: 
12599 Overcharged Portland - Rockwell Collins Innovate 3rd Place8949 The Gifted GearsPortland - Motivate - 1st Place
8372 TNT (Trial N Terror) Medford - Motivate - 2nd Place8176 SteelheadHood River - Motivate 3rd Place7776 Loose ScrewsPortland - Control - 2nd Place8610 ToborTechLake Oswego - Control - 3rd Place7750 Mechanical ManiacsSutherlin - Highest Ranked Team 11089 Bytes of KitkatsPortland - Highest Ranked Team 12808 RevAmped RoboticsPortland - Highest Ranked Team

Compass Award 
Congratulations to Paul Hanau, Mentor for receiving the FTC West Super-Regional Compass Award for being an outstanding Mentor.  He was nominated by 9231, 7776, and 10565 at Wilson High School Robotics.  Watch their nomination video here. 

Congratulations and Best Wishes for Quentin and Christy!
Our ORTOP DJ Quentin Pierce is getting married on Saturday! Congratulations to the happy couple. 

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

FIRST Tech Challenge Community:

It's been a great season and it's not over yet.  Upcoming is our  FTC Oregon State Championship on February 25th at Liberty High School in Hillsboro.


  • All FIRST Tech Challenge Teams are eligible to submit  for the  Promote or Compass Award. 
  • Rules and Guidelines for the Promote and Compass Awards were released in Game Manual 1 in July 2017.  
  • Teams with videos  ready for submission should read the FTC Oregon Compass and Promote Award Submission Rules. CLICK HERE FOR COMPLETE GUIDELINES 
  • Deadline for submission is Sunday, February 18th at 11:59 PM Pacific Standard Time  
Congratulations to our Super-Qualfier Teams who competed this past weekend! Our thanks to our many volunteers to helped us with the events! And to our Sponsors for helping us make it happen with their financial support and volunteerism. 

Tech Challenge Oregon Championship 
Everyone is welcomed to attend our Championship event at Liberty High School, Hillsboro on Sunday, February 25. Qualifying Matches will be underway by 10:15 am. This will be an exciting two division event with 48 teams.

Mentors of teams who advanced to the FTC Championship will receive an email on 2/14/18 sent to:   
Mentors of Championship teams should check their email for Championship Information and the Registration Link. Confirmation forms must be returned by Friday, Feb 16 at 9:00 am

JumpStart YOUR 2018/2019 SEASON 

I've heard from several schools/organizations  that they wish to start more teams at their school or in their district or neighboring districts.  Getting a FIRST Tech Challenge JumpStart, may be the way to go! Here is a link to the JumpStart flyer with more information  Deadline to apply is March 30th

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

SQ Logistics: 
We have SQ updated information for you posted on the SQ page - Maps, Parking, etc.
  • For SQ: Pi@Benson - since we have a "soft opening" the Judge/Inspection Schedule is published. All teams should check the schedule for the earliest scheduled activity time (Judging or Inspection). 
  • First scheduled activity is 8:45 am.  
  • For Delta/Theta @Evergreen - Teams are expected to arrive starting at 7:45 am and no later than 8:15 am. 
  • VENUE FOOD AVAILABILITY: At this time we concessions will not be available, so pack a lunch, snacks, take-out, delivery are your options. 
Super-Qualifier Weekend and the FLU 
Mentors we are asking that students, coaches and mentors who are ill with the flu not come to the events.
  • This season the flu epidemic is particularly serious. If someone is contagious, they should not attend the event. 
  • Please use this week to make contingency plans to replace students in key roles like drivers, drive coaches, presentation leads. Have a back up programmer, and a robot repair person. Do some cross training. 
  • CONTACT: Cathy if your whole team is unable to attend.
  • CONTINGENCY VOLUNTEERS: And in anticipation that some volunteers may be ill and unable to volunteer, we'd like to start contingency lists of team parents who will be at the events and willing to step in for someone who is ill.  If needed we would find the team to find the willing parent on our list.   
SQ: Inspection  Information - from SQ Lead Inspector Bruce Schafer  Inspections at the Super Qualifiers will be more rigorous than earlier in the season. We assume that your team has corrected issues that were identified at previous tournaments.  Here are some things that your team should consider before this weekend's tournament:

(1) They should self inspect their robot using both the Robot Inspection and Field Inspection check lists and correct any problems.

(2) They should watch for things that you may have missed before like the requirement that each robot have one of the approved switches even if they are using a Core Power Distribution Module that includes a built-in switch.

(3) Make sure the pair of phones that you will be using meet all the requirements on the Field Inspection.  Examples include:

     (a) The version number of your Driver Station App should match the version of the SDK and/or Robot Controller application that you are using.  If you have upgraded your Driver Station to 3.6 and your Robot Controller app is on an older version, either upgrade your SDK or Robot Controller app to 3.6 or install the matching Driver Station app on your Driver Station.  If you arrive at the tournament without having done so, find a Lead Inspector and ask for help.

    (b) Your Autonomous op mode(s) and your Teleop op mode should stop immediately whenever stop is pressed.  Your Autonomous op mode must stop when the 30-second timer expires if it has not already stopped.  (At the tournament the drivers should make sure that the count-down clock is on the Driver Station whenever an Autonomous op mode is being used.)
  • FIRST Tech Challenge West Super-Regional Championship - March 8 - 11, 2018 - Spokane Convention Center, Spokane, WA 
    • From the FTC Oregon STATE Championship on Feb 25, fourteen  FTC Oregon teams will advance to the FTC West Super-Regional  Championship.
      They will be part of a field of 72 teams from 12 states.
      Things you should know -
      • Flights in and out of Spokane are limited.
        • The organizers are expecting that most Oregon teams will drive to Spokane.
        • Flying might mean you'll need an extra day to fly out on Monday.
      • There is a block of Hotel/Motel rooms that are reserved for teams. - Check this link for more information 
      • There will be a teleconference meeting for mentors of Super-Regional Teams on February 28th - 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm.
        • The website says  "We will be hosting an informational web session for all the teams that will be advancing to Super-Regional.  Stay tuned for more details including how to join this briefing."
      • There is additional information about Tournament Fee ($500), registration and other details as they become available at the website. 
      • VOLUNTEERING at FTC West  is a great experience. Team parents traveling with teams are encouraged to volunteer. Our FTC Oregon volunteers not affiliated with teams are also encouraged to volunteer