There are many similarities between these two programs, however there are three significant differences between the programs – team size, costs, and time lines.
Smaller FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) teams, average of 10 students, allow most team members to get hands on experience in almost every aspect of designing, building and programming the robot. Returning teams should expect to spend around $1,000 per season with new teams budgeting $2,500 when competing in British Columbia. The FTC season starts with Kick-off in September and goes through to the British Columbia Championships in February, with most teams experiencing three product development life-cycles in a single season.
Larger FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) teams, average of 30 students, encourage students to pick one area to specialize in like robot design, programming, business strategy or team branding. Rookie teams should budget for $15,000 and Veteran teams could spend upwards of $30,000 depending on how many events they advance to. FRC Kick-off is in early January which starts a six-week intense robot building season leading to an exciting Championship event in March.
Both programs encourage students to get involved in sponsorship and/or fundraising. All FIRST students have the opportunity to learn about fund raising, public speaking, team building and leadership.