FTC-Iowa: Coaches

Coaches are integral to the FIRST Tech Challenge team.  The students must  build, design, and program the robot,  but coaches can offer suggestions and help. Coaches can show team members how to do things, although often the students show the coaches how to do things. Coaches do not need to have a technical background, as FTC is a learning process for all  involved. Successful coaches are hands-off, provide a safe location, arrange meeting dates and times, and serve as the primary method of communication with FTC-Iowa.

FIRST has many resources for coaches and teams. We suggest you bookmark these sites and use them frequently. TIMS (Team Information Management System)is the place for coaches to register their FTC team with FIRST and order TETRIX parts at a discount. Have you missed a FTC team email blast? Check out the archive of FTC Team Email Blasts and the FTC blog from Ken Johnson, Director of FTC. FTC is on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.

FTC-Iowa also has information for Iowa teams. And we send email to Iowa teams. The primary email is ftc.iowa@gmail.com, so please save it in your contact list, as many schools and organizations filter out @gmail.com addresses. Review the archive of FTC-Iowa team blasts. We are also social! FTC-Iowa on Facebook and Twitter

Teams Contact Information

An element to Gracious Professionalism is working together to build a better community. The best way to do that is for teams to collaborate with other teams - either nearby or across the state. During the build season, teams are responsible for hosting their own scrimmages/workshops, which provide great opportunities to connect with other students. 


FTC teams can use either LabView or RobotC to program their robots. In addition, teams receive complimentary licenses for the PTC (Creo, Mathcad, Windchill) suite of applications. The PTC products can be used to make CAD designs of the robots.


The body of the FTC robot is made from TETRIX pieces. TETRIX is a division of LEGO education. The FTC Competition Kit and TETRIX pieces can be re-used for several seasons.

Teams must purchase one of the following:

  • FTC Competition Kit -- A great foundation for a new FTC team. The kit includes a TETRIX Education Base set, a LEGO Mindstorms Education Base Set, a Logitech joystick controller, and copies of the programming and design software.
  • FTC Competition Kit without LEGO Mindstorms -- A replica of the 2012 FTC Competition Kit, minus the LEGO Mindstorms kit. This is a great option for those teams who graduated from FIRST LEGO League.
  • FTC Software Renewal Kit -- Available only to veteran teams. This kit contains the programming and design software needed for FTC competition.
  • 2012 Samantha Wi-Fi Communication Module -- All teams must have the communication device as this is how the robots communicate with the computer in the field. Veteran teams may reuse their Samantha module from last season or purchase a new Samantha module. Please remember to review the Samantha Resources for help configuring the Samantha module.

Teams can purchase the following items:

  • FTC Resource Kit -- This kit provides a good mix of over 40 TETRIX parts, including the larger gears and longer channel pieces that are not included in the TETRIX Education Base Set; two additional DC motors; and one Logitech joystick controller, as well as a sturdy plastic storage bin.
  • Additional TETRIX parts -- Teams can purchase additional TETRIX parts at a 30% discount by logging into TIMS.

Field Options

Teams are not required to have a complete FTC Competition field for practice. Many teams have been successful with a portion of a FTC field. However, if your team is interested in building a full field, but does not have the funds to cover the cost of an official field perimeter, there is an option for a Low Cost Perimeter. Also, FTC recommends that teams build their own sizing box to make sure their robot will pass the size portion of the robot inspections.


FTC-Iowa has implemented a qualfying tournament system. Teams who wish to compete at the FTC-Iowa Championship must compete at a qualfier tournament to advance to the FTC-Iowa Championship. Many teams in Iowa receive special grants to get started. Many of these grants have a requirement for teams to compete in at least one tournament; a qualifier tournament fulfills this requirement. Don't forget the consent forms. Please review the pages about FTC-Iowa Qualifier Tournaments and be aware of the FTC-Iowa Cancellation Policy.

Field Items

  •  "Game Specific Field Elements"

If you have purchased all of the items for Ring It Up (above), and are looking for other items to buy with the $300 "Game Specific Field Equipment", we recommend purchasing a Linksys E1000 or E1200 router (~$60), two master IR beacons, a 7-port powered hub ($30-$40), gaffers tape, and some game controllers ($25-$30/ea). Many of these items can be bought online at different vendors.

For a complete list, please download the Field Electronics Spreadsheet.

  • "Extra Robot Parts"

Teams have the flexibility to purchase items that are needed beyond the kit-of-parts. Coach Dan Niemitalo (#4150) has compilied a list of robot parts (including link to vendor websites) and an explanation of the part recommendations. Please keep in mind, these are the recommendations from an experienced FTC coach. They are not requirements.