Last year, several of our teams took advantage of the practice field elements hosted at FIRST Chesapeake Command Central in Mechanicsville. Sadly, we no longer have access to the warehouse and were anticipating not having a practice area for teams this season. A Richmond area sponsor has stepped forward at the last minute to provide space. FLEXICELL INC has generously offered to provide practice field access to teams for POWER UP!  
 
This year teams will have limited access to a 1/2 field utilizing the game elements that Showbest built and donated for kickoff. The field will be hosted at Flexicell Inc, 10463 Wilden Drive, Ashland VA. Teams are invited and encouraged to attend, this venue is accessed by pre-registration only. Please register to express your interest and reserve a time for your team using the link provided below. 
 
Details: 
  • Access on Saturdays only from 11-4:00 starting week 3 (Jan 20th)
  • Register using this link https://goo.gl/forms/j4BUDTHZIbSVRhnF2 no later than the Friday before at 7:00 PM
  • 5 team members only please, space is very limited
  • Teams need to stay in designated areas only, no exceptions
  • Please bring your own safety glasses and wear closed toe shoes. 
  • NO CSA support available onsite
  • Call 804-239-2228 if you need to cancel, or are looking for a last minute spot.
  • There will be no field perimeter or FMS onsite. 
  • Please provide your own ethernet tether or configure your wireless bridge in AP mode. 

There are 4 FIRST Robotics Competition pre-inspection workshops scheduled for the district. Team lead mentors have been sent location / time signup information. The locations are:

  • Northern VA Location
    Venue: Osbourn Park Senior High School
    Address: 8909 Euclid Avenue, Manassas, VA 20111
    Time: 10am - 4pm
    Date: Saturday February 24th
    Other Information: Inspection does not count as out of bag time.
  • Central VA Location
    Venue: Chesterfield Technical Center
    Address: 13900 Hull St Midlothian, VA 23112
    Time: 10am - 4pm
    Date: Sunday February 25th
    Other Information: Inspection does not count as out of bag time.
    The site also has some practice field elements available. Any teams competing week one that wish to take advantage will be able to access the practice elements. Teams choosing to take advantage of the practice elements will need to re-bag after inspection process and then unbag again in the practice area, please bring extra tags if this is your intent.
  • Hampton Roads Location
    Venue: New Horizons Regional Education Center
    Address: 520 Butler Farm Rd, Hampton, VA 23666
    Time: 12pm - 4pm
    Date: Saturday February 24th
    Other Information: Inspection does not count as out of bag time.
  • Maryland Location
    Venue: USRA
    Address: 7178 Columbia Gateway Drive, Columbia, MD 21046
    Time: 10am - 4pm
    Date: Sunday February 25th
    Other Information: Inspection does not count as out of bag time. 
    USRA also hosts a practice field. Any teams competing week one that wish to take advantage will be able to access the field. Teams choosing to take advantage of the practice field will need to re-bag after inspection process and then unbag again fieldside, please bring extra tags if this is your intent.

The Tuxedo Panda's have generously organized a pre-states scrimmage for teams. This will be a more formal scrimmage than in past seasons. There will be two fields with referees, and inspections will be available. Additionally, they will have a practice judging session with feedback.

Judging times will be assigned upon arrival. This is the only format where our judges can give formal feedback to our teams! The event is free, and open to all teams, however, space is limited. Should the registration exceed capacity, preference will be given to teams who have qualified for the Championship on Feb 24th.

Pizza will be available as a pre-order.

Date: Feb 18th
Time: 10:00am-4:00pm
Location: Pulaski Community Youth Center, 6671 Riverlawn Court, Radford, VA.

If your team is interested in participating in the upcoming event, please complete the registration form below.

Registration Form: https://goo.gl/forms/4OLlMviWdVpE20FI2

Awards Deadlines are coming quickly! Please be aware of the deadlines below:

Thursday, February 8, 2018, 3:00 P.M. Eastern Time

  • Chairman’s Award: Submitted by a Student Award Submitter* through the Dashboard. The most prestigious award at FIRST, it honors the team that best represents a model for other teams to emulate and best embodies the purpose and goals of FIRST.
  • Woodie Flowers Award: Submitted by a Student Award Submitter through the Dashboard. Presented to an outstanding Mentor in the robotics competition who best leads, inspires, teaches, and empowers their team using excellent communication skills.

Thursday, February 15, 2018 at 3:00 P.M. Eastern Time

  • Dean’s List Award: Submitted by a designated Dean’s List Award Submitter** through the Dashboard. Celebrates outstanding student leaders whose passion for and effectiveness at attaining FIRST ideals is exemplary.
  • Entrepreneurship Award: Submitted by a Student Award Submitter through the Dashboard. Celebrates the entrepreneurial spirit by recognizing a team that has developed the framework for a comprehensive business plan to scope, manage, and achieve team objectives.

*Team members must be designated as a Student Award Submitter on the roster in order to submit an award. To complete the submission, once designated on the roster, the Student Award Submitter will want to login to their account at www.firstinspires.org and select the “My Teams” tab from the Dashboard. Where the team is located, they will want to select “Certificates and Awards” then the name of the award they are submitting from the drop-down menu.

**The Dean’s List Award may be submitted by the Lead Coach/Mentor 1, Lead Coach Mentor 2, or an invited Dean’s List Award Submitter.

For additional awards and submission details, please visit the Awards page. Please be aware of the submission deadlines above, and email before the submission deadline for assistance. Late submissions will not be accepted.

 

Deadlines Approaching!

  • Payment Deadlines Approaching on January 31, 2018: Teams who are registered for additional Regional Events, Additional In-District Events, and Additional Inter-District Events must secure payment prior to 5:00 P.M. Eastern Time on January 31, 2018.  This deadline also applies to prequalified teams who have registered to attend the FIRST Championship. For pricing information and additional payment dates, please visit our Pricing Structure and Payment Terms page.
  • Dr. Bart Kamen Memorial Scholarship: The 2018 Dr. Bart Kamen Memorial FIRST® Scholarship application deadline is February 1, 2018. This transportable scholarship is for students pursuing degrees in Biomedical Engineering & Pre-Med. Learn more and apply here.

FIRST knows that teams are super-busy and in the middle of “build season”. That's why they have worked to make booking hotel rooms much easier for teams by doing a lot of the leg-work for you.

FIRST has secured group rates for hotels through Experient for teams, mentors, judges and any other person attending FIRST Robotics Competition events.

Out-of-town participants can take advantage of the fabulous concessions FIRST has negotiated with each hotel. Here’s what you get:

  • Low rates, guaranteed
  • Earn reward points from your preferred hotel brand
  • Complimentary breakfast
  • Complimentary Wi-Fi in all guest rooms within group block
  • Complimentary parking for all attendees within the group block
  • Stay at hotels reviewed and sanctioned by FIRST

Links to the Experient Event Housing site can be found on each of the FIRST Chesapeake event webpages https://www.firstchesapeake.org/first-programs/frc/first-chesapeake-district-events, or just go here and search by state.

There is a new bill, SB179 being introduced in MD by state Senator Guzzone that will give tax breaks to property owners for mainly assisting community based teams. Several FIRST mentors and students will be testifying to the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee on the bills behalf.

More info can be found here - http://mgaleg.maryland.gov/webmga/frmMain.aspx?id=sb0179&stab=01&pid=billpage&tab=subject3&ys=2018RS

This Bill gives counties and cities the authority to offer a property tax credit that would benefit property owners that rent space to “a public school robotics program or nonprofit robotics program in the State” or operated robotics programs in the State. The language is defined similarly to the robotics grant offered by the Maryland Department of Education this year.

If the Bill is enacted, and if a county or city enacts a credit, an eligible property owner would pay less property tax. This may provide an incentive to property owners to provide space to robotics teams. In particular this should benefit teams that are not tied to space in a public school.

The Bill will be heard by the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee on Tuesday, January 30 at 1:30 p.m.

For the Bill to move forward, the Committee must recommend approval to the full State Senate. If the Senate approves the Bill, it will cross-over to the House of Delegates for another committee hearing.

We recommend that Maryland teams, including mentors/coaches and parents, contact Senator Guzzone and their local legislators about supporting this bill.

Originally posted at http://firsttechchallenge.blogspot.com/2018/01/super-regionals-then-and-now.html

Super Regionals - Then and Now
Super Regional competitions were piloted in 2014 with the intent of creating a more balanced progression of competition. As FIRST Tech Challenge grew, the single World Championship accommodating 128 teams resulted in a very small percentage of teams making it to the top level of competition.

Super Regional events provided a solution to this problem, and allowed more teams to reach a higher level of competition. The events were a tremendous success. The regions that stepped up to organize, fundraise and execute the events were amazing. The sponsors who believed in the vision donated over a million dollars to make them happen. The team experience was unlike anything else. We are truly grateful for the passion and effort that went into these events.

Since the inception of Super Regionals several things have changed. Most significantly, we’ve added a second World Championship, as well as new World Championship venues.

In 2017 FIRST Tech Challenge doubled the number of teams attending World Championships from 128 to 256. The percentage of teams progressing from one competition level to the next was turned on its head. In addition to more spots for 40 international FIRST Tech Challenge teams we added a waitlist/lottery for 80 FIRST Tech Challenge teams at World Championships. That still left spots for 136 Super Regional teams, or 47% of teams competing at Super Regionals.

The cost to teams competing in both Super Regionals and World Championships is not insignificant. In addition, the cost of the events themselves is substantial, the volunteer and coach time, and the compression of the FIRST Tech Challenge season, it really adds up. Most importantly, the original reason for creating Super Regionals which was helping more students reach a higher level of competition is being solved by the addition of a second World Championship event.

Taking into account all these factors, 2018 will be the last year of FIRST Tech Challenge Super Regionals.

Houston and Detroit World Championships each offer new opportunities, mainly in layout and the chance to have all programs again under one, enormous roof. In fact each of the new venues can accommodate more FIRST Tech Challenge teams than our previous venues.

Starting in 2019 we are happy to announce that each World Championship will host 160 FIRST Tech Challenge teams, or a total of 320 teams from around the world. We will continue to make the FIRST Tech Challenge World Championship experience loud. Teams can expect to compete side-by-side on the largest stages with FIRST Robotics Competitions and in places like Minute Maid Park and Ford Field as well as the George R. Brown and Cobo Convention Centers.

The growth of FIRST Tech Challenge continues, and we love it. Making our program available to more and more students is what it’s all about. We’re proud to have Championships that recognize and celebrate the students, coaches, volunteers and sponsors that make it all happen. I look forward to seeing you out at the competitions and then changing the world!

Thanks,

Ken Johnson, FIRST Tech Challenge Director