New kit of parts - In 2012, the FTC game rules were opened up to offer more latitude in the selection of building materials and robot kits. At the 2012 FTC Championship, a new kit of parts called MATRIX was introduced. This kit is currently being piloted internationally for the Ring It Up! season and plans are for it to be available to U.S. teams for the 2013-14 season.
More Choice - The FTC Game Manual Part 1, which covers general game play and robot regulations not specifically tied to the annual challenge, was released in the spring. This manual greatly relaxed the regulations on allowable materials, giving teams greater flexibility and creative freedom in building their robots.
New format - Five locations across the U.S. began piloting the FTC Meet format. Teams in Florida, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Washington are exploring what the future of FTC competition might look like. They are taking FTC one step closer to becoming a traditional sport by competing in stripped down, shorter, after-school competitions.
Ringing it up - 2012 was a year of strong growth for FTC team numbers, reaching 2,300 teams in the U.S., Canada and Mexico. Internationally, there were about 200 teams from 13 different countries from around the globe. If you do the math, that's about 25,000 students all learning the important life skills FTC teaches and gaining hands-on STEM experience!
So, from all of us here at FIRST Tech Challenge headquarters, Happy New Year and we'll see you in 2013!