FAQs — Frequently Asked Questions

FIRST Competition ArenaWhat is FIRST?

FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) is a program designed to help students experience and gain exposure to science and engineering technology, with the goal of assisting them in choosing a career in a technical field. This is accomplished through engaging students in real engineering problem solving, marketing, business management and technical design as they build a robot and compete in sports-like robotic game. These competitions allow students to interact with professionals in many technical and business fields as coaches, mentors and judges. 

When does your team meet?

During the pre-season, we meet weekly or monthly on Wednesday nights from 6:30-8:30pm. The team meets more frequently, as much as 3-4 times a week, during robot build season, which begins on the first Saturday in January and continues until the first Regional Competition in early March.

Where do you meet?

During the 2017 build season, we meet at Lightwave International in the Meadowlands area of Washington County.

What is the time commitment?

The time commitment varies depending on the time of year - see below:

Fall (called PRE-SEASON) - September to December
During Pre-Season the team accepts new membership applications and trains all team members on needed skills for the build season. Students will decide which sub-team(s) they would like to be on and need to attend 3 meetings per month minimum. There are some special training sessions held on Saturdays which may be required depending on the sub-team your student is interested in being a part of.

Winter (called BUILD SEASON) - January to Feburary
This is the most important part of the year, when the team only has 6 weeks to build its competition robot. Students on ALL subteams, particularly technical teams, will be expected to work at least SEVEN HOURS A WEEK (2 meeting days). The average for technical subteams is 15 hours a week for the 6 weeks when the team is building the robot. While the Titanium Titans respects other time commitments and activities the student may have, it is expected that the necessary time be spent with the team during build season, similar to the hours put into a sports team that practices daily and has required competition dates. Teamwork is critical to our success and every team member has valuable input into the robot design, construction, testing and preparation for competitions. Please ensure that you can be flexible and available during this time period. 

Spring (called COMPETITION SEASON) - March to April
This is when the team attends Regional and World FIRST Competitions both locally and within other states in the US. It is the team’s desire that all team members attend all competitions. However, we understand that circumstances may arise which prevent that from happening, particularly as competition dates can vary from year to year. Any team member who is interested in being part of the DRIVE TEAM, PIT CREW, or SCOUTING TEAM LEAD must be available to attend all days of every competition. All competitions are 3 day events encompassing a Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.

Summer (OFF SEASON) - May to August
OFF SEASON is not really “OFF” as the name implies. That is the FIRST term for the post-competition months when teams plan and engage in a wide variety of STEM outreach activities. The Titanium Titans design and run workshops, host open house events, and give demonstrations to increase exposure to STEM technologies in the surrounding communities (Canonsburg, Washington County, South Hills of Pittsburgh and other areas within PA). We also use this time to make appointments for student presentations to potential sponsors. Every team member is required to help with planning and execution of ONE Community Outreach Event AND ONE WORKSHOP or student Outreach event during the Off Season.

What is the cost to be on the team?

There is a nominal fee to participate on the team (this amount may vary yearly) which covers the cost of team competition t-shirts and other necessary apparel. The yearly fee to participate on the team is $100. In the case of any non-local competitions, families are responsible for travel and hotel fees. We do not want cost to be a limiting factor for team participation - those in need can apply for a participation fee waiver.

Will I have to sell things or participate in fundraisers?

Team members will be expected to help with any team fundraising activities such as workshops, etc, but we do not require team members to sell fundraising items. Each family is asked to distribute 3 sponsorship request letters to businesses that they have a personal connection with to help attract sponsors for the team.

Do I have to know anything about robots to join the team?

Experience with robotics is NOT required to join the team. However, to be considered, team members must attend a Pennsylvania Department of Education recognized educational institution and maintain academic eligibility of 2.5 GPA. All team members will be trained in tool & shop safety before using any equipment and will receive sub-team specific instruction depending on their area of interest and the needs of the team.Commitment to the team and the intent to meet attendance requirements & training sessions is considered in the team member application process. Meeting minimum attendance & grade requirements, and being present for the required training and attendance at competition events is expected to remain on the team.

What types of things could I do on the Titanium Titans robotics team?

There are many types of sub-teams you may join, both technical and business-related. As we continue to evolve and grow these sub-teams change. A brief description of the current sub-teams is listed below. For more detail about each sub-team, visit the Sub-team descriptions under the About tab on this website.

Strategy Team: Helps the team brainstorm the season’s robotic game and develop a comprehensive strategy. These team members know all game rules inside & out, and provide input to the other technical teams.

Computer-Aided Design Team: The CAD Team uses Solidworks 3G software to create the CAD drawings that are used to construct the robot. Team members will learn how to use the program through training sessions. 

Programming Team: This sub team develops the code that controls the robot during competition using LabView programming software. The programming team is also involved in the electrical wiring of the robot and the workings of various sensors and electronic components. 

Prototyping Team: Helps mock up design ideas for feasibility testing; Works closely with the CAD team.

Build Team: This team does the actual assembly of the robot during the build phase. Jobs will vary and include soldering, wiring, building, fabricating, testing.Drive Team: the Drive Team consists of a driver, a co‐pilot, a human player, a Safety Captain and a lead programmer. Drive Team Members are by invitation only.

Pit Crew: The Pit Crew is a small group of students who are able to troubleshoot and fix mechanical and electrical problems with the robot under time pressure. Their major responsibility is the maintenance of the robot and tools. Pit Crew is by invitation only.

Scouting Team: Students on this team will develop analysis software and methods to assess the capabilities of other teams during competition, giving our team as much advantage as possible. They will assist the drive team and Pit Crew during the competition by providing competitive analysis and updates.

Website Design & Video Team: This team develops, maintains and updates our team website, as well as recording and editing video to assist the team in marketing and competitive analysis. 

Awards Team: This team works on Awards submissions for the team competitions; involves writing, video production and public speaking elements. 

Communications/Public Relations Team: The Communications Team speaks directly to groups, judges and the media. This team will submit press releases and articles to the local news on a quarterly basis. They will make presentations at community or sponsorship events regarding our team mission, vision and current STEM education activities. They will take and archive photos of the events of the season for inclusion on the team website

Marketing/Business planning: Produces written and graphic promotional materials (signs, robot fact sheet, logos, etc). This team is also responsible for writing and editing the team Business plan, sponsor presentations and other materials that provide support for team spokespeople.

Fundraising/Finance: Manages the list of companies that we are reaching out to for sponsorship. submits fundraising letters, researches and develops new fundraising opportunities, manages sponsor relationships with information and appreciation materials.

Outreach: Develops and manages outreach workshops and events to promote the team within the community; Manages team relationship with our AnaPanama partners to help train resident orphans in technologies that can assist them in finding technical work when they age out of the orphanage at 16.

Titan Spirit Team: This team includes our mascot, the Titan, and helps develop signs, cheers, and encourage enthusiastic support of our team during competition. Additionally, at the competition, they will inform Titan team members of opportunities to help other teams and show gracious professionalism/help develop maintain the positive image of our team. 

Is there any parent involvement needed?

Yes, we do ask that each family help out in whatever way they are able. We have and need MENTORS in every sub-team area listed above. If you have knowledge or skills in any of those sub-team areas, can commit to attending meetings one day a week, and are willing to obtain the necessary clearances (the same clearances you have for scouts, sports, etc) WE NEED YOU! Please fill out the mentor application found at the end of the Titan Handbook.

In addition, we are always happy to have PARENT HELPERS who coordinate meals during build season, coordinate carpools and hotel rooms for competitions, work with the marketing team to determine t-shirt and uniform sizing needs and ordering, etc. We will hold a parent meeting in late October to help you learn more about how you can support the team as a Parent Helper.

WHEN can I join the team?

New member applications are accepted from May 1 to October 15 yearly. The fall sub-team selection and training sessions begin happening in early September, so team members joining in the late Sept/Oct timeframe may be limited in the sub-teams they can join depending on space availability. There may also be a need to catch up on material covered in those first few weeks.

HOW do I join the team?

First, read the Titanium Titans Team Handbook completely with your parents/student. Then fill out the online application to the team, along with the parent/student contract at the end of the Handbook. Once accepted, team members will be required to provide updated medical information and a current report card before their membership is finalized.

For more complete information, please refer to the Titanium Titans Team Handbook.

Written by Stephanie Wang

Titanium Titans Robotics