Starting out with a personal visit to Harvard and Yale, one of our team members, McKenna Hillsdon-Smith and her mother, traveled to Manchester, New Hampshire this past summer to learn more about the prestigious schools and processes that surround FIRST. Starting out with the schools (most notably MIT), it was said repeatedly how much they valued students with robotics backgrounds. While they don’t offer merit based scholarships, they claim the addition of FIRST Robotics on an application can open doors for the student.

In regard to FIRST HQ, the group got the opportunity to learn some of the secrets of the FIRST process. Some things that grabbed our attention were that 1) they only have about six employees working on a game at any given time (some being past team members, past mentors, and some never having prior FIRST affiliation), 2) there are always two-three FRC games in production at a time (while they claim they are always late according to schedule, they have this year’s game nearly complete and the following year in the prototyping stage), 3) the theme surrounding the FTC and FRC games are completely unrelated and it is common that the FRC team has no idea what FTC is working on for that year’s game, and 4) the game creators will never see a fully built field until hours before kickoff.

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