Abbreviation Guide

FTC has a lot of abbreviations — it is one — and they can be hard to figure out if you’re just starting out. Below are some of the common abbreviations and acronyms (arranged alphabetically) with short descriptions. (Are we missing any? Let us know.)


  • FIRST, For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology. Dean Kamen founded FIRST to “inspire young people’s interest and participation in science and technology.” It’s the organization behind FTC.
  • FTA, Field Technical Advisor. At an FTC competition, the FTA “concentrates on the Technical issues (Robots, Robot Control System, Scoring Software, etc.).”
  • FTC, FIRST Tech Challenge. One of several competitions created by FIRST, where students in grades 7-12 “are challenged to design, build, program, and operate robots to play a floor game in an alliance format.”
  • I2C, Inter-Integrated Circuit. A standard / protocol that allows the robot to communicate with sensors in a predictable way. It is supposed to be “I-squared C”, but most people just say “I-2-C.”
  • PDM, Power Distribution Module. The module which takes power from a battery and distributes it to other control modules on the robot.
  • PID, Proportional-Integral-Derivative [control]. A way for motor controllers to “smoothly” bring a motor to a certain position or speed. Read all of the technical details here.
  • PWM, Pulse Width Modulation. A standard way of communicating with devices such as servos and sensors. Here, the width of electrical pulses traveling along the cable convey information.

AJ Foster

AJ is a Field Technical Advisor in Orlando, FL. He enjoys teaching concepts related to the FIRST Tech Challenge, helping teams at competitions, and making the things he learns accessible to everyone.