FIRST Tech Challenge teaches kids skills beyond engineering

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – WHNT News 19 is spotlighting some unique STEM education opportunities across north Alabama. We previously covered FIRST LEGO League, geared towards elementary school kids.

Now, the robots and the arena are getting bigger for the FIRST Tech Challenge.

In FIRST Tech Challenge, kids from junior high and high school build robots to compete on a 12 foot by 12 foot field in a 2 on 2 format, forming an alliance with another team and competing against a second alliance.

The competition not only involves robots, but also involves an engineering notebook, which teams present to the judges. The notebook details the engineering design, programming, outreach efforts, and the work they’ve done with mentors to become more knowledgeable.


The Browncoats have been around for several years- their inaugural season was 2013.

For the 2020 season, they won the state championship for the first time in their history! They’ll head to the world championships in Houston in April.

This season, they designed the robot using a computer aided drawing (CAD) program, a process that started three years ago.

In addition, they use no off-the-shelf parts, machining all the parts on a lathe.

Motorized Mayhem:

Some members of Motorized Mayhem have been involved in FIRST since 2012, starting in FIRST LEGO League, which WHNT News 19 previously covered.

Their robot is all-metal and uses “wheels” that allow the robot to move in any direction.

Motorized Mayhem also made an appearance at the world championships, going to Houston in 2018.

As a small team (only seven members), everybody has multiple roles.

Time Travelers:

The Time Travelers are based at Huntsville Christian Academy and have been around since 2017.

This year, they 3D printed the bulk of their robot, and as such, named it 3-DPO.

During their second year (2018), they too went to the world championships in Houston.

More information:

For more general information on FTC, visit the FIRST website.

To see existing FTC teams across the Tennessee Valley, visit the search page.

If you’re interested in starting a team, you can find details here.

You can find more information on responsibilities of being part of a team here.

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