October 2016
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Did you miss us?
It's a brand new month and a brand new   newsletter! 
And it's more exciting than putting pantyhose on a spider monkey .  

Working Together  

We have so much to tell you  - FTC Reveal, New Tool Shop, Event Reviews, Alumni Mingles, an Alumni/Volunteer Spotlight, Upcoming Events, calls for Volunteers,   and more- whew !!

So hold on to your ukulele-  a nd keep reading for these topics  and more.

And please pass this newsletter on to teams, parents and students.
(a web link is at the top of this email- the "click here")
To subscribe to the newsletter, just fill out this form.

ftcFIRST Tech Challenge Kickoff and Workshops
Teams arrived excited and ready to go on September 24th at the FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) workshops held at VA Commonwealth University (VCU) School of Engineering (Richmond, VA).  More than 240 attendees participated and were actively engaged in our workshops. 

A big thank you goes to our many supporters- our event partner InSource Solutions for sponsoring this event, to  PTC for provided laptops for their session, and to
 VCU for providing the venue and breakfast .
FTC workshop

There were 11 different  workshop  sessions, presented by experts in the field. 

We want to thank our veteran teams Geared UP! and Tuxedo Pandas and ALL OUR GREAT PRESENTERS for sharing their time and expertise!

Looking for technical help or info from the workshop? Try our new FTC technical resources page  https://sites.google.com/a/virginiafirst.org/ftc-tech/home  Other presentations will be posted soon on the workshop page.
FIRST Tech Challenge Game Reveal 2016-17
Have you seen the FTC Kickoff and Game Animation? check it out here!

Go here for the 2016-17 Game and Season Material  
FIRST Tech Challenge Build-A-Bot Day
Saturday October 29th, 2016 
9:00am- 3:00pm

FIRST Chesapeake Command Central 
Mechanicsville, VA

  • Registration cost: FREE but advanced registration is required
  • Come to Command Central and work on your robot! Test it on our fields. Get advice and help from other FIRST Tech Challenge teams. (And be prepared to offer your expertise) Use the FIRST Chesapeake basic machine tools (some limitations apply).
  • Halloween costumes optional!!
  • What to bring: your parts and tools.
  • Tool questions? Glen Davis gdavis@firstchesapeake.org
  • General questions? Maureen Carley mcarley@firstchesapeake.org
To register:  https://virginiafirst.formstack.com/forms/201610_ftc_build_a_bot_day

FIRST Tech Challenge Field in No. VA Available to Teams
An FTC field is available for team use after school at George Mason High School 
in Falls Church, VA through January 2017. Don Brobst, FIRST Senior Mentor, is in charge of this arrangement. 

Although the field will be available most days at 3:00pm, there are exceptions, so please consult Don for an appointment.  You can reach Don at  dbrobst@usfirst.org.
FIRST Tech Challenge Information

You may only register for ONE qualifier at this time. 

The next open registration will be October 26th.

FIRST Tech Challenge Giveaway
Wow! FIRST Tech Challenge has a Sweepstakes giveaway for 3-D printers!  

No purchase necessary with two ways to enter: complete the team registration or enter with a sweepstakes form. Rules on the attached flyer

Five printers will be given away for the next five weeks!
frcOff-Season and Upcoming Events Calendar
Here are some upcoming FIRST and STEM-related events. Click through the links  for more information or visit the FIRST Chesapeake calendar
  • Oct 8- Hampton Roads FRC Summit (Christopher Newport University, Newport News, VA)
    • Join representatives from other local FRC teams to share ideas and updates
    • More info TBA
  • Oct 22- FRC IROC (Battlefield High School, Haymarket, VA)
    • Discounts possibly applicable- see registration form
    • Offering FREE registration and a robot to drive for pre-rookie teams!
  • Oct 29- FTC Southwest Scrimmage (Bristol Public Library, Bristol, VA)
  • Oct 29- BAA Education Day (Glenelg High School- Glenelg, MD)
    • 8:30 AM - 4:00 PM
    • For any student, mentor, parent or supporter of the FIRST Robotics Competition in Maryland and DC. 
  • Nov 5- FRC Rumble in the Roads (Menchville HS, Newport News, VA)
    • Discounts possibly applicable
    • Offering FREE registration and a robot to drive for pre-rookie teams!
  • Nov 19- FRC Workshop (Virginia Commonwealth University [VCU], School of Engineering, Richmond, VA)
    • 8:00 am- 3:30 pm
    • Information TBA soon
  • Nov 19- FTC Meet the Field (VCU, School of Engineering, Richmond, VA)
    • 8:30 am- 3:30 pm
    • Information TBA soon
  • Jan 7- FRC Kickoff (DC; Columbia, MD; Hampton, VA; and Richmond, VA)

Learn more about volunteering with FIRST Chesapeake here.
FIRST Robotics Competition Team Safety Meetings- Is Your Team Ready to Go?
Welcome FRC teams to the 2016/2017 season. Congratulations! You have two committed lead mentors that have cleared the Youth Protection Program process. You have registered for your first of two district events. And I hope that you are just as excited as we are about the teaser and upcoming workshops and events that we have planned for FIRST Chesapeake teams.

Safety at FIRST is paramount. Each team is required to conduct a  mandatory team  safety  meeting at the  start  of  the season including parents and team members. Safety is much more that wearing goggles and checking for open toe shoes.

FIRST provides the resources that your team needs, including:
Youth Protection Program (YPP) Overview and Program Guide:
This zip file contains:
  • Team Travel Consent Form
  • Medical Incident Form
  • Non-Medical Incident Form
  • New Volunteer Application
  • Parent Notification Guidelines Form
  • Tracking and Documenting Youth Protection Clearance Form
And be sure to review the FIRST Code of Conduct. Because what better time than the start of a brand new season to remind ourselves and others of how we should behave when participating on a FIRST team.

As FRC program directors, we are happy to provide guidance and resources as you plan and conduct your team safety meetings. And we've compiled this checklist to help you make sure that your team is "Ready to Go"!

Have a amazing season, and don't hesitate to reach out if you need assistance.

Directors, FIRST Robotics Competition,  FIRST Chesapeake

FIRST Robotics Competition Registration Update
Here is a detailed explanation of the initial event registration update and process: 

Initial Registration for District Teams registering for their District events will open at Noon Eastern Time on Wednesday, October 5th and temporarily close at 9:00AM Eastern Time Thursday, October 6 th,. Registration for District teams will then re-open at Noon Eastern Time on Thursday, October 6 th.

FIRST Robotics Competition 2017 Teaser
FIRST has released a 2017 season teaser video- exciting!

FIRST Steamworks
FIRST Steamworks
2016-2017 Volunteer of the Year Nominations

We are now taking nominations for 2016-17 FRC Volunteer of the Year.

Please send the name of your nominee and a paragraph stating their qualifications and why you believe they should be honored, to:


Anonymous nomination will not be accepted.
Nominations will be taken through end of business on Friday, October 28th.
Battle O' Baltimore Review
Battle o Baltimore 2016
FRC 1629 Airborne
The 10th Annual Battle O' Baltimore (known affectionately as BoB) was held on Saturday, Sept 24 at the McDonogh School in Owings Mills, MD.  The Baltimore Area Alliance organized and produced this competition, with the support of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, the Partnership and Inspiration for Engineering Education and Entrepreneurship, STEMaction, and Buffalo Wild Wings, Over the years, BoB has grown to feature workshops and special meetings.

This year's roster included nearly 30 teams from 4 states and the District of Columbia.  The competition was selected as part of Baltimore Innovation Week, which brought in visitors for guided tours of the event and a taste of what FIRST is all about.
We moved from the Science Museum into our own warehouse space. Please ask your school bookkeeper or team non-profit organization to change our mailing address for registrations or other payments to:

Virginia FIRST / FIRST Chesapeake
8177 Mechanicsville Turnpike
Mechanicsville, VA 23111
GE Volunteer Foundation Donates to the new FIRST Chesapeake Tool Corral

GE Tool corral TY
Students show their appreciation to GE
This summer, the GE Volunteer Foundation generously funded a tool library for team instructional workshops and volunteer technical training at FIRST Chesapeake Command Central. Eventually, these tools will also be available to community teams and schools that lack on-site build space. 

"Making these materials available to middle and high school teams builds valuable STEM-based skills, increases opportunities to test STEM-based concepts, reinforces the importance of teamwork, and helps teams become more competitive at local and Championship level competitions", said Glen Davis, Director of FIRST Chesapeake Logistics. 

"These tools will also offer hands-on opportunities for volunteers such as coaches, mentors, and technical volunteers to test new concepts and learn from each other at this season's workshops and scrimmages at Command Central.  We are extremely grateful for GE Volunteer Foundation's continued support in helping us build tomorrow's technology leaders", said Stan Southworth, FIRST Chesapeake Executive Director. 
Alumni Updates

Alumni Mingles are happening now! Find the gathering nearest you- don't miss the fun:
- 10/05/16, 6:00-8:30pm- Norfolk, VA
- 10/13/16,  6:00-8:30pm- Washington, DC
- 10/19/16,  6:00-8:30pm- Charlottesville, VA
- 10/26/16, 6:00-8:30pm- Baltimore, VA
- 11/02/16, 6:00-8:30pm- Blacksburg, VA

Go to https://virginiafirst.formstack.com/forms/alumni_social_rsvp_2016 to see the exact location of each event and to RSVP. 

I look forward to hearing from you.

Julie Miller, FIRST Chesapeake/ VirginiaFIRST Alumni Coordinator  

Alumni Spotlight- Julia Thomp son
Julia Thompson
Julia Thompson
What VirginiaFIRST team were you a member of and what was your role?

During my six years of FIRST in middle and high school, I was on 3 FLL teams, FVC and FTC 177 Twisted Bots, and FRC 122 NASA Knights. I served as team captain, lead fabricator, drive team coach, operator, and chairman's presenter.

Are you working with FIRST Chesapeake/ VirginiaFIRST in a volunteer capacity now?

Through my years with FIRST, I have been a FLL referee, FLL judge, and FTC referee. During the 2015 season I mentored FRC 1137 Rocket Sauce and volunteered as a FTAA at competition. During college I organized a mid-level robotics competition at my college.

What path did you take after high school?

I was a Presidential Scholar at Cedarville University where I graduated in May 2014 with a bachelors in mechanical engineering. I am currently working for Huntington Ingalls Industries- Newport News Shipbuilding in the steam plant systems department. This fall I will start taking classes for my masters of nuclear engineering at North Carolina State University while continuing to work at NNS.

How has your experiences with VirginiaFIRST influenced the path you have taken?

My FIRST experience played a major role in my college awarding me their top scholarship. While I was looking for a job after graduation, the networking from my time with FIRST was a major contributor to my being invited to interview with NNS.

Wanted: Experts
The Community of Experts Project is a new program that FIRST Chesapeake is launching. It is intended to support FRC and FTC teams in our area. This online resource would allow teams to connect to other teams in the area who are experts in specific fields. If your team would like to be a part of this, please email apalmer@firstinspires.org .

VA High School League Survey- VA Teams! Due Oct 7th!
Contribute to this effort to get Robotics added to the VHSL
The Virginia High School League (VHSL) is exploring the possibility of adding a technology-related state championship and would like to gauge your current level of participation and interest in:
  • Robotics- mechanical engineering, electrical engineering and computer science that deals with the design, construction, operation and application of robots and other computer systems for their control, sensory feedback and information processing.
  • Cyber- finding cyber security vulnerabilities within a set of virtual images and hardening the system while maintaining critical services.
  • Hack-a-Thon- collaboratively designing and implementing a software and/or hardware application.
Please complete the following two-question survey  (https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/techchamp) no later than Friday, October 7.

Senior Mentors and VISTA Seen in MD
senior mentors
Student with Don, Angie and Christina.
Our FIRST Senior Mentors and VISTAs do a lot of work behind the scenes doing outreach, helping teams and answering inquiries. 

Here we see some of them hard at work at the  First Look Fair - University of Maryland College Park on Sept. 14th. Senior Mentors present were Don Brobst, Dana Aucoin (not pictured) and Angie Fontanilla. VISTA Christina Lee is also shown in the photos.
senior mentors

This was a very successful volunteer recruitment initiative- they met lots of FIRST alumni!
National Math Festival Team Demos Needed

We're very excited to announce that FIRST will participate in the National Math Festival, which will take place Saturday, April 22, 2017 from 10:00am till 7:00pm in the Walter E. Washington Convention Center

We are recruiting high school teams (FTC and  FRC) to support a FIRST exhibit at the National Math Festival. It's important for teams to document and present on how you utilize mathematics in the design of your robots and in your strategies for playing the game.

Interested? Contact:  dlewis@firstchesapeake.org or call  301-814-0331

For more information about the National Math Festival, visit: http://nationalmathfestival.org/ 

Volunteer News
Up, Up and Away!

The Volunteer Information and Matching System (VIMS) is now up and ready for you to update your personal information and to sign up to help with the FTC in Virginia and the FRC across the entire FIRST Chesapeake District (Maryland, DC and Virginia). Bear with us over the next few weeks, as we finish customizing the lists of volunteers we are looking for at each of the events.  

If you are new, or if you want to try something different this season, there are thumbnail descriptions of the jobs that we are trying to fill [http://www.firstinspires.org/resource-library/frc/volunteer-event-roles-and-training-resources] and [http://www.firstinspires.org/node/5341]. It doesn't matter if you are a seasoned veteran, or have any technical know-how.  We have a wide variety of openings for volunteers of all kinds of talent. From information-givers to inspectors, control system experts to crowd controllers, team registrars to tear down packers, we need you. The only things we require is that you like to work with young people, and that you bring your gracious professionalism.*

For more information on anything of interest, or if you have any questions about volunteer opportunities with the FTC in Virginia, or the FRC across DC Maryland and Virginia, contact Dee Tomczak, at dtomczak@firstchesapeake.org .

If you are interested in volunteering for the FTC in Maryland and DC, please contact Jenny Beatty:  jbeatty@stemaction.org.

Ready to go?  

To update your information, select your events, and choose your preferred job, start at https://my.firstinspires.org/FIRSTPortal/Login/VIMS_Login.aspx  There is a downloadable Users Guide for VIMS available right on that page, in case you need some guidance.  If you have any questions, or need specifics on any of the information you come across, contact Dee Tomczak at dtomczak@firstchesapeake.org

*If you don't know what gracious professionalism means, you also have some homework to do.  Go here to find out what the ethos of FIRST is all about (big hint: it's not about the robots).   http://www.firstinspires.org/about/vision-and-mission

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Sept 2016 sponsors list

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