Start a FIRST Robotics Competition Team

FIRST Robotics Competition gives high school students and their adult mentors the opportunity to work and create together to solve a common problem. Challenged to design and build a robot using a standard "kit of parts" and within a common set of rules to play a sophisticated field game − with limited time − brings out the best in students and adults alike. The robot “game” changes every season and is always exciting.

FIRST redefines “winning” by rewarding teams for achievements not necessarily gained on the field of play − excellence in design, demonstrated community outreach, Gracious Professionalism®, and the ability to overcome obstacles are all recognized with awards. Winning is always secondary to the quality of the overall experience.

If you would like to start a  team in your area, we welcome you and promise to provide you with all the support, ideas, and encouragement you need to succeed!

What does every FIRST Robotics Competition team need?

  • 2 or more adult Mentors with both technical and non-technical expertise willing and motivated to “coach” the team through the build and competition season (and beyond)
  • 10 or more high school-aged students willing to put in time after school (and maybe some weekends) and to do any job the team needs to succeed (lots of jobs available for all skill levels and interests)
  • A suitable meeting place
  • A suitable space to design and build an industrial-sized robot (about 150 lbs.), that has access to a variety of machine shop power tools
  • A standard kit of parts and a common set of rules issued by FIRST
  • A community sponsor(s) that will help fund your efforts and provide other support
  • The desire to learn, explore, strategize, build comradery, share ideas and talents, make new friends, be accepted, and HAVE FUN! 

Essential steps to starting a FIRST Robotics Competition team:

Find support resources
First, familiarize yourself with FIRST Robotics Competition. Then locate your local Partner or FIRST Senior Mentor. These people know the FIRST teams, participating schools, and FIRST-friendly businesses in your area. They can help you form a plan for getting your team funded, organized, and in touch with other teams in the area.

Enlist Coaches & Mentors
Each team needs at least one adult Mentor with technical expertise willing and motivated to “coach” the team through the build and competition season (and beyond). We highly recommended two or more other adults to help with administration, fundraising, community outreach, and other tasks.

As a Mentor or adult Volunteer, you should be meeting with your team at least several times per week during the build and competition season (January - April). Many mature teams also meet throughout the year, and some compete in off-season events. You, your family, and your available free time can decide together how much time you devote to the program.

Register and Pay
Registering your team’s information makes you a part of the huge FIRST Robotics Competition community. You’ll begin receiving communications from FIRST, along with a temporary team number in preparation for event registration in September. Create a team roster link to submit with your registration. (Please note that completing this stage of the process does not commit you to becoming a team.)

Registering includes event registration and ordering the Kit of Parts. We’ve made it easy to pay your team’s fees with favorable terms, online payments, discounts for rookie teams, and more.

Build your team 
Find and invite at least 10 students who want to be part of a robotics team (the easiest part!). Be sure to emphasize that no technical skills are required, just enthusiasm and a willingness to learn. Recruit all kinds of talents, not just engineering and electronics.

As a team member, be prepared to meet at least several times per week from January through April. Like any sport or other after-school activity, the more time you invest, the better you will become at your task(s). During build season, the pressure is on, so be prepared to also spend some nights and weekends helping your team.  

Raise funds
Your team will need a steady supply of funds. Recruit local businesses to sponsor you. Many of them may already have a relationship with FIRST. We also have many fundraising opportunities you can explore. Grants are available for both new and underserved teams.

Learn about safety
At FIRST, student safety is always paramount. Every adult must become familiar with our Youth Protection Program (YPP). Take the time to watch our videos and read our youth protection materials.

Build Robots!
Part of the fun is designing and building your robot and FIRST provides a wealth of information in our Resource Library to help you. Find everything from technical guides, to fundraising ideas, or fun activities for your team.

In general, FIRST Robotics Competition operates from September to April. Teams form and register in September. However, the “official season” begins early in January when the season’s Challenge is announced at a Kickoff ceremony. Teams must then create their robot in order to be ready for their competition events. District and Regional competition events start in late February and continue through April. Teams that qualify are invited to FIRST Championship at the end of April. There are also many off-season events in which teams can participate, strategize, hone their skills, learn new technology, meet other teams, and have fun!