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View Poll Results: Yes or no the to the award?
Yes 42 57.53%
No 31 42.47%
Voters: 73. You may not vote on this poll

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Unread 09-12-2008, 10:22 PM
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Re: should there be a award for programming skill?

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Originally Posted by Alan Anderson View Post
The Judge's Award is one of the few that explicitly mention rewarding effort rather than focusing on results. It would seem to be well suited for the kind of situation you describe.
And it can be awarded for almost anything the judges like. So if you sell your good programming, you could get it.
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Unread 09-13-2008, 01:17 AM
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Re: should there be a award for programming skill?

I'm just glad there's a rockwell automation award... it's been a goal of mine to win it since I joined FIRST (see link at end of signature)!

-q
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Unread 09-13-2008, 02:33 PM
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Re: should there be a award for programming skill?

I think it should be based on how complex it is. The more difficult it is to understand the code, then the more complex it is.
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Unread 09-13-2008, 06:15 PM
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Re: should there be a award for programming skill?

An award for spaghetti code? I think not.
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Unread 09-14-2008, 02:41 PM
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Re: should there be a award for programming skill?

Hhmmm...lots of people seem to be saying, "Please, young programming students, grow up to be really lousy programmers."

I don't personally care if there's a programming-focused award or not, but let's keep our eye on the ball here: trying to encourage good engineers. Some folks seem to be unaware that there is a field called Software Engineering, to which the general engineering principles still apply.

For example, I think we can all agree that there is a huge difference in the design/skill/quality of

A) a convoluted system of dozens of pulleys and counterweights (many of which are unnecessary) and cables,

vs.

B) a clean and simple pneumatic system.

Both might accomplish the same "function" or "results" (perhaps a lift of some kind), but there are clear differences in simplicity, in cost, in maintainability, extensibility, and several other "ilities" -- which are a staple of engineering evaluation criteria.

So it is with code.

In industry terms, software maintenance and support costs typically rival software design and development costs. It is almost an industry standard notion that code which only "works" is not sufficient, it must also strive to be flexible, reusable, understandable, maintainable, and so on -- all in balance with time and cost of course.

As a software team lead, I would never, ever, ever hire someone who didn't understand this concept.

So regardless of the feasibility of an award, please don't mis-inform students into thinking that nothing matters except the end results, or if you do, make sure you plan to hire them, because no one else will.
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Unread 09-14-2008, 03:04 PM
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Re: should there be a award for programming skill?

Quote:
Originally Posted by msd View Post
So regardless of the feasibility of an award, please don't mis-inform students into thinking that nothing matters except the end results, or if you do, make sure you plan to hire them, because no one else will.
This is FIRST not college. The end results matter more because there is no way you are going to teach the intermediary steps for them to do it the right way.
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Unread 09-14-2008, 04:18 PM
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Re: should there be a award for programming skill?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Adam Y. View Post
This is FIRST not college. The end results matter more because there is no way you are going to teach the intermediary steps for them to do it the right way.
i disagree, i have done extensive teaching for programming and web design to a team for 3 years and there is plenty of time to teach the correct succession of steps. As to the comment about being FIRST not college, FIRST is a pre-engineering program, a lot of the students who go through FIRST become engineers. So why not send them off with the correct information and knowledge? I have had ex students contact me and tell me how much my instruction has helped them in their current field.

As for the award... I don't think there should be one, the reason is that a lot of teams have software engineers that do a lot of their programming for them and there would be no way to actually prove the code is student written. Also what about the teams who use easy c, that pretty much makes the layout for you and there isn't much actual coding which, in my opinion, would take away from the spirit of the award[any award for that matter].
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Unread 09-14-2008, 04:53 PM
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Re: should there be a award for programming skill?

I'm going to disagree with both msd and Adam Y.

msd, we are NOT saying that! However, we ARE saying that having an award for clean coding/good coding practice is not the best way to do this. I suggested, and will repeat the suggestion here, that veteran programmers be available to look over any code a team wants them to look over and offer suggestions. That's a better way, though it may not be the best way.

Adam, it's quite possible to teach the right way quickly. The problem is that you need to keep the students doing it during crunch time.
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Unread 09-14-2008, 07:15 PM
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Re: should there be a award for programming skill?

The issue with the award, how on earth would it be scored? Maybe a team has really really slick and efficient controls algorithm and another has a crazy autonomous, who wins? Or would it be done based on efficiency? Time efficiency? Space Efficiency? Grading code is impossible, what makes sense for one programmer may not for another.

Just my .02
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Unread 09-14-2008, 07:54 PM
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Re: should there be a award for programming skill?

Teams aren't required to print out dimensioned drawings to win mechanical awards. This should hold the same when it comes to software.

Award selection should be up to the results the system produces on the field and the ability of the team to market their design. If they choose to show how well they structured their code to judges, all the better for them.
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Unread 09-14-2008, 10:59 PM
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Re: should there be a award for programming skill?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Bottiglieri View Post
Teams aren't required to print out dimensioned drawings to win mechanical awards. This should hold the same when it comes to software.

Award selection should be up to the results the system produces on the field and the ability of the team to market their design. If they choose to show how well they structured their code to judges, all the better for them.
I agree. Signature on the dotted line.

I wrote a really awesome script exec front end to our autonomous program in 2006 (RALFF v1.0), and at the time I was really miffed about not getting an award for the work, since it didn't really do anything, in practice, super spectacular. Now, part of this was mechanical, part of it software, but none the less, it didn't deliver the goods.

Later, in the 2008 Overdrive competition, I started over and wrote RALFF v2.0. It wasn't as pretty as RALFF v1.0 on the screen... but, well, ...case in point. And it's the real life results in the hands of customers that companies pay you for, not the pixel art on your PC.

-q
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Unread 09-15-2008, 12:22 AM
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Re: should there be a award for programming skill?

If we have an award for good programming, shouldn't there be an award for good welding? I'll agree with the majority of experienced FIRSTers here in having sufficient confidence in the competency of the judges to recognize outstanding programming within the existing framework of awards. One thing that I really like about many of the design awards is the "demonstrated on the playing field", and "provides an advantage" type phrases.

On the other hand... if someone (say a big software corporation) came up with a substantial contribution to FIRST and suggested that they would be more than pleased to sponsor an award for programming, I suspect it might be possible to define appropriate criteria for a programming award.... or a welding award. Gee... a welding award would be great... our students have rocked at TIG the past couple years!

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Unread 09-15-2008, 01:32 AM
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Re: should there be a award for programming skill?

At first I thought it was a good idea.
But after reading this thread, some good points were brought up on why such an award is already representative in the innovation in control award. However, it still takes hardware creativity to receive that award.

Tough call.
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Unread 09-15-2008, 07:44 AM
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Re: should there be a award for programming skill?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Alan Anderson View Post
What do you mean, "but"? You're giving examples that support my point rather than oppose it.

The General Motors Industrial Design Award is not based on the technique or skill of the people doing the design. It's based on the "form and function" of the finished product.
You could have the best designed robot in the world ... but without the programming it would be just a great paperweight ... and would never win this award. Yet there is no 'award' specifically for programming.
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The Motorola Quality Award is not based on the technique or skill of the people building the parts. It's based on the "robustness" of the finished product.
Again ... You could have the most robust robot out there ... but without the programming, no one would ever know or care.
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Originally Posted by Alan Anderson View Post
As EricH pointed out, the existing Rockwell Automation Innovation in Control Award seems a perfect answer for someone asking about a way to reward the programming.
The innovation in controls award is not programming specific. Many teams have won it for their hardware controls and things like heads-up displays, specialized interfaces (like a representational arm) and integration with sensors for field position controls. And while all of these include a programming aspect, the award is not programming specific.

So please, again, tell me what award is programming specific?
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Unread 09-15-2008, 09:26 AM
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Re: should there be a award for programming skill?

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Originally Posted by Daniel_LaFleur View Post
The innovation in controls award is not programming specific. Many teams have won it for their hardware controls and things like heads-up displays, specialized interfaces (like a representational arm) and integration with sensors for field position controls. And while all of these include a programming aspect, the award is not programming specific.

So please, again, tell me what award is programming specific?
Without the hardware, the code is useless. Tell me, programmers, could you do as well if you didn't have the pots, input devices, encoders, ultrasonics, HUDs, and other cool gadgets and only had timers? I doubt it! How many teams have had a seeming code failure, only to discover a bad [insert sensor here]?

And the hardware needs code to work right. Sure, it's good for producing smoke, or baffling the freshmen, or giving practice in some electronics stuff, without it, but I'm sure that that isn't what teams want.

So the hardware is integral to the software's success. Innovation in Control is therefore rewarding both parts; the hardware that allows the code to work right and the software (code) that makes sure the hardware does what it is supposed to. As such, it is not pure programming; nor is it pure hardware. It celebrates the mixture of the two.
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