Our journey growing FRC in China started at the 2012 Championship event when a businessman from China, Mr. Yue, encountered Swartdog parent, Min Zhang. Mr. Yue was excited about what he was seeing and returned in 2013 with a camera crew to interview our students and mentors about FRC. Four of our mentors then traveled to Shenzhen, China in December of 2013 to provide training for new FRC teams and mentors. They conducted various sessions that focused on team organization, robot design, robot construction, sensors, and programming. The sessions provided valuable training information and opportunities for discussion between the seven rookie teams and one veteran team that attended. Our team also built a “suitcase bot” designed specifically to transport overseas for the event. The robot fit in a suitcase and provided a way for teams to get hands on with basic electronic components and control systems.

Hub City Regional

In 2014, two of our mentors traveled to the Hub City Regional (over 2000 miles!) to support Chinese teams in attendance. Their goal was to help the teams through inspections, help them through the competition, and make sure they had a good time. The teams didn’t get their kit of parts until halfway through the build season and didn’t have easy access to FRC legal parts. Getting their robots completed and shipped to a week 2 event was quite an accomplishment! Many teams throughout the regional helped make sure the teams were competition ready and had a fun experience. It was great to see that one of the teams, 5302, won the Highest Rookie Seed award and was the highest seeded team not selected for elimination rounds. Though they were not able to go, another team from China, 5304, were excited to win the Rookie All Star award and earned a trip to St. Louis.

Queen City Regional

Members from team 4830 from Shenzhen, China were excited to learn about our team, city, and culture. So they decided to fly into Cedar Rapids and spend a day with our team in Cedar Falls before we traveled together to the Queen City Regional. At the regional, there happened to be a match where we were on an alliance with them. The announcer contacted us, suggesting that it would be a cool opportunity to have the match announced in Chinese. One of our students and a mentor from team 4839 worked together to commentate the match in Chinese for the first time in FIRST history.

China Robotics Challenge

2014 was the first year we went to China as a team to assist new teams and participate in the first ever Chinese robotics scrimmage. We invited 3 other American teams to attend and help out as well. This was a huge step in our efforts to bring FRC to China. Our team continued to go back and assist in 2015 and 2016 to help new teams get ready, volunteer for, and participate in the China Robotics Challenge. Our students, alumni, and mentors helped all 15 teams finish their robots and pass inspection for the scrimmage. 

In 2014, we suggested the American teams step out of alliance selections and all other American teams graciously agreed. This allowed Chinese teams to step up as leaders of alliance and have a more even playing field. A round robin was played to determine the winner and, just like an official event, awards were also presented.

Each year, as FRC grew in China, more and more teams participated in the scrimmage.So, in 2015 and 2016, 2 sets of full playoffs were held: one was only for the Chinese teams and one included the American teams present. It was a great experience for all teams involved and it was fun seeing the Chinese teams get more confident throughout the scrimmage!

We continue to have a presence in China, sending mentors and alumni to help teams and volunteer in key roles to make the event run. At the 2019 event, one of our alumni was awarded the FRC International Alumni of the Year award. Additionally, Min Zhang, the Swartdog parent who had the initial interaction with Mr. Yue in 2012, now acts as the Regional Director for China!

Copyright 2018 FIRST Team 525