FTC is considered a high school program, but if a middle school team has had several years of FIRST LEGO League (FLL) experiences, and is ready to move up to their next challenge, then FTC might be the right fit. Teams should be careful not to have a middle school student on a team with a upper-class high school student.

Officially, the FTC season starts in May, when registration opens, and concludes in April with the FTC World Championship. The following information includes some benchmarks, at different times of the season, to help you plan along the way.

Pre-Season (May - September): when the game is announced. If you are a rookie team, the pre-season begins with your registration, via TIMS. During the pre-season teams should: Attend an FTC tournament (if possible); Plan a budget; Use marketing tools; Recruit team members; Apply for grants (e.g. Link will be here); Register your team; Order Kit of Parts; or Attend workshops and demo.

Kick-Off (September): We will try to have multiple kick-off locations this season. the locations are to be determined. As Kick-Off gets closer, teams will be able to register for an event.

Build & Practice Season: Teams should use the time, following Kick-Off, to design, build and program their robot. Its also a good time for the team to practice. It is important, especially during this time, the team members become familiar with the Game Manual, as well as other resources, such as the Forums. During this time, there are several scrimmages, which are great opportunities for teams to learn and work with other teams.

Tournament Season (November - February): This time period is the culmination of the season for most teams. Events during this time are include League Meets and League Championship Tournament Events, in which teams will compete to qualify for the FTC-Iowa Championship in late February. FTC-Iowa will follow the Advancement Criteria for each of the League Championship Tournaments.

World Championship Event (April): This event is a celebration and an culmination to the FTC program. It is the pinnacle of the FTC Season. Teams must receive an official invitation to attend.

Post-Season: The post-season is very similar and overlaps the pre-season. During the post-season, teams are encouraged to thank the sponsors, review lessons learned, and begin prepping for the new season.

If you are starting a new team, please take a moment to look at the sample budget.The following sample budget is for a new team, purchasing one FTC competition kit and participating in one event. If your team chooses to purchase an additional kit and/or participate in multiple events, the fees would vary accordingly. Travel costs will vary due to the distance and time needed to travel to an event.

  • FTC program registration fee: $275
  • FTC competition kit: ~ $1,000
  • New technology kit for returning teams - $500
  • Event registration fee: $0 - $300 per event
  • Travel costs (food, lodging, gas, etc.): $0 - $500*
  • Team T-shirts (optional): $0 - 150
  • Additional kit items (optional): $0 - $500 

*Depends on what FTC Events tournaments teams decide to attend. Any additional money that is spent is at the discretion of the team/coach/mentors. Other expense examples include: travel costs, registration fees for competitions, and activity funds for students. A typical team budget ranges from $2,000-$4,000, but it is not a requirement. To find support, we encourage teams to do fundraising.

Please visit the pages within this website and contact the Iowa Affiliate Partner, Rebecca Whitaker (319-335-5706) or send an email.

Please review the FTC-Iowa Funding Resources document.

In addition to registering with FIRST, teams will also need to register with FTC-Iowa.
FTC-Iowa is a self-supporting organization and we need to collect registration fee from teams. The fee collected ($225/team) stays within Iowa and will be used for Iowa tournament support for the duration of the FTC Season.) Teams are strongly encouraged to pay via credit card, but invoices are an option.


Student and coach FTC

Current Season

Under the current pandemic, the current season of ULTIMATE GOAL will look different than previous seasons.

FTC students

Remote Tournaments

Remote tournaments will be new for the current season.

FTC coaches


Volunteers make up 99% of the FIRST workforce. We seek technical and non-technical experts - there's a volunteer role suited to all interests.

Frequently Asked Questions

We take cancelling an event very seriously. We are all very familiar with winters in Iowa. For the complete cancelation policy, click here.

Throughout the FIRST Tech Challenge season, regular newsletters are sent out to coaches, students and volunteers. We encourage you to view the archive of the newsletters.

The FIRST Tech Challenge program is coordinated by staff and students at the University of Iowa College of Engineering. Learn about us here.

What is FIRST?

For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization, founded by inventor Dean Kamen in 1989. FIRST gives students the opportunity to develop the "muscle between their ears" and to gain experiences that will affect their future. It is truly a "Sport-for-the-Mind". Students who participate in FIRST use and reflect Gracious Professionalism, get real-world application of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) concepts, and participate in an atmosphere that encourages team building, entrepreneurship and sportsmanship. Check out the other FIRST programs.

What is FIRST Tech Challenge?

FIRST Tech Challenge is designed for those who want to compete head to head, using a sports model. Teams of students are responsible for designing, building, and programming their robots to compete in an alliance format against other teams. The robot kit is reusable from year-to-year, and is programmed using a variety of languages. Teams, including coaches, mentors, and volunteers are required to develop strategy and build robots based on sound engineering principles. Awards are given for the competition as for well as for community outreach, design, and other real-world accomplishments.

The Robot is Just the Vehicle

Although the object is to build a robot, students who participate in FIRST Tech Challenge learn so much more. Students learn about working in a team environment, effective communication skills, being able to fail and succeed at the same time, and competing fairly while being supportive of their competition. Students who participate in FIRST Tech Challenge are well-rounded citizens of the world.

What grades can participate in FIRST Tech Challenge?

FIRST Tech Challenge is considered a high school program, but if a middle school team has had several years of FIRST LEGO League  experiences, and is ready to move up to their next challenge, then FIRST Tech Challenge might be the right fit. Teams should be careful not to have a middle school student on a team with a upper-class high school student.

Current Season: ULTIMATE GOAL, presented by Qualcomm!

The rules and field design of ULTIMATE GOAL will be released on September 12, 2020. Check-out the FIRST website for the Game Manuals Part 1 & 2 (Remote and Traditional Format) and the ULTIMATE GOAL page and the FTC-Iowa 2020-2021 Season.

FIRST Tech Challenge-Iowa Registration

There is a registration fee to participate in FIRST Tech Challenge in Iowa. For more information, please visit this page.

FIRST Tech Challenge-Iowa Championships

The FIRST Tech Challenge-Iowa Championship is a culmination event for many of the teams in Iowa. Teams must qualify through the League Tournaments and the Super Qualifier Tournaments (2018-2019 Season) to advance to the FIRST Tech Challenge-Iowa Championship. For more information about the Iowa Championship, including schedule and a FAQ, please visit the Championship webpage.

Team Email Blast Archive

Have you missed a team blast? If so, check out the archive of the newsletters!

FTC Student Support

We are currently accepting applications to work in the FTC-Iowa office at the University of Iowa College of Engineering. For more information, please visit this page.