TSA v. VRC

Earlier this year my dad lost his job and because of him finding a new job in another state, I am forced to leave my current team as well as VEX VRC in exchange for TSA. If anyone has been a part of both organizations or knows more than I do about TSA and VRC in general (it isn’t very hard), what are the large or small differences between each?

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TSA is a whole hell of a lot more than just robotics, in fact robotics is kind of an afterthought.

I’d suggest going to their website to see what all they offer in terms of competition.

They do have TSA VEX, however it’s solely skills runs, no actual tournaments or anything like that. It’s not a bad program at all, and usually they have something for everyone, you more just have to find the things that interest you the most.

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Well that sucks. I was really looking to continue robotics.

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What state you moving to? Most states have a good amount of vex clubs. States like Montana only have 1 or no clubs.

I’m moving to Georgia. More specifically the East Coweta/ Newnan area

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There are a lot of good teams in Georgia you should try asking your high school ( just an assumption). If not they maybe try looking for private teams in the area. My team is based out of Georgia and vex is particularly big.

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I’m rising 8th grade but not a single middle school or high school in my area has a vex team. I’m going to start looing for private teams. Are there any you can reccommend, or places that I could find them?

Unfortunately I do not know many teams. This has been in another post if this helps

TSA is still pretty great! I participated in both during high school. I can also echo that Georgia has some of the best TSA high school programs. My first time visiting Georgia was for TSA nationals and I discovered how much I love my current college!

Our Turning Point robot makes a special appearance on the TSA Vex Website too!
edit: gotta say Turning Point now that Tipping Point exists…

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I know there are some because they come up to midstate south carolina to compete. Aaand now i dont remember who they are
may be a bit hard to do in middle school but in high school you might be able to start a team
provided the school can fund it

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We have TSA teams in Texas that also compete in VRC events with their TSA - VEX robot.

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As others have said TSA is more than robots. I’m a fan of all the other things they do.

Not at fan of the Robot Competitions that they run. In the past you have three “driver skills” runs. Based on your score they then rank you. Some places let you pick alliances, other then assign you alliances VEXIQ style. Then you are in a elimination tournament, with most places just doing a semifinal round (8 teams in 4 alliances) and a finals round. For most teams this means 4 matches / maybe 5 for a total of 10 mins drive time after working 50+ hours on your robot.

In Delmarva I encourage teams to do BOTH VRC events and TSA events. That makes a little more time sense. Plus we’ve found that teams that do both end up much better at the end of year TSA event.

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I did my first year of robotics doing only TSA and my second doing TSA and VRC (this was the tower takeover season I don’t know anything about what TSA did last season). It should be noted that everything I am going to tell you applies to how TSA used to work before COVID and I am not aware of any changes that have occurred after COVID so take what I say with a grain of salt. TSA’s VEX, at least in my state, is insanely less competitive compared to VRC. There simply is not nearly the level of advanced robots in TSA as there is compared to VRC. I have seen a claw bot (not modified at all) destroy everyone else at TSA events because everyone else tried to make their own fancy robots but failed because they do not have the experience. I would say that if you did good at VRC, then you will kill it at TSA. Also, TSA Vex does not work the same as VRC. Yes, the game is the exact same, but the way the competitions work is different. From my experience, regional competitions only include random teams being put together (like qualifying rounds in VRC) and the team with the most wins gets first place for the whole competition. No knock-out rounds or finals or anything. The one time I went to state for TSA, instead of qualifying rounds, we did skills and whoever had the highest skills score got the highest spot for the knock-out rounds. Then the knock-out rounds worked similar to VRC except there were no alliances and it was just 1v1’s. That is the general overview that I can think of right now of how TSA differs from VRC, but if I can think of anything else I will let you know. I would also like to say that TSA has a lot of other things besides VEX and it is definitely worth checking the other competitions out. You can compete in an unlimited amount of competitions I think but there are obvious physical limitations because you cannot be in many places all at once during a TSA competition because many events have their competition at the same time during a TSA competition. One more thing is that everyone gets to go to state competition but I think you needed to get 1st or 2nd place at state competition to qualify for nationals, which is the highest level of competition for TSA. I would say only at nationals will you see a degree of complexity with other robots that can be considered equal to the complexity of robots that can be found at VRC competitions.

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Also I was in a similar situation as you just last year where I had to move and had to leave my VRC team, and there is many grants and stuff you can get to help start your own VRC team. I would never rule that out as a possibility. Get some people from your new place and see if you can start something at your new school, if not make a private team, and get those grants that vex gives to new teams and maybe try to raise your own money. I was going to do that but I hated the simplicity of change up and how everything was in virtual competitions (which I saw to be nowhere equal to in person competitions) so I did not do it, but from my research, starting your own personal team or a new team at your school can definitely be achieved. Best of Luck!

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To be honest, the overall changes to TSA this last year due to COVID were some events such as dragster got cut from the National level for the year if it was decided that it was unreasonable or straight-up impossible to run a virtual version of the event, a lot of things were just written tests wherever possible to determine semi-finalists, and everything was virtual.

As far as TSA VEX went, it was strictly skills runs, with no sort of knockout phase at the state level. Then at the national level, you have this disaster where you don’t even run the actual robot, just present your notebook and the design process. You know… despite the state and regional levels not requiring notebooks for TSA VEX… If you run both VRC and TSA VEX though, you’d probably be in pretty good shape for nationals at least…

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What I find odd about this is that nobody has said this: I am really sorry for your position. I really hope this works out for you.

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