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  #106   Spotlight this post!  
Unread 04-16-2007, 06:58 PM
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Re: Championship 2007 - Atlanta - What Needs To Be Improved

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Originally Posted by Evenstar_342 View Post
2. Judging

I was very disappointed by the judging. 342 was not expecting any awards, but we felt very shocked at some of the judges' behaviour (myself especially as team spokesperson, trying to train someone else, as this is my last season as a student). We always invite (politely) all judges to stop by our pit area by offering them a button, introducing ourselves and thanking them for volunteering. Many judges would ignore me and Catharine, walking right past us or glaring at us as we tried to give them a button. The two or three that were assigned to our team, acted like it was almost an afterthought to come by.

The safety judges were also as confusing. I saw most of them huddled in corners talking or just walking around. This was very different than in Palmetto, where the judges were always watching. Many teams never yelled "robot coming through!" and I almost got run over probably a couple dozen times, sometimes in full view of the safety judges, who simply didn't seem interested or like they wre paying attention. I was shocked at this, since I figured that safety judges were there not just to judge the competition, but also to help keep people safe.

Not really a complaint, but I'd also be curious to hear the experiences foreign teams has had with judging. I know in FLL, translators are provided, but I was wondering if anyone has any problems with judge miscommunications. I just mention this because Friday while asking a safety judge where a team was, I saw him go ballistic on an Israeli mentor (who I don't think spoke English), screaming at him from the entrance of the pit area to wear his safety glasses. The safety signs in different languages were a great idea (although, not taping them to the floor would also be a great idea )

I understand if there is a massive judge shortage (I know that was a problem at Palmetto, but the judges still spent a lot of time with each team), and that I do not know how to solve. However, I would suggest FIRST recruting former students and mentors to team up with the professionals, since they would have a different take on teams that perhaps the professional judges that have not participated in FIRST.

Otherwise, I had a great time. Other than the walk between the Dome and pits (which I didn't think was that bad, I certainly needed the exercise after eating all the junk food!), I think the location is great. Atlanta is definetly not my favourite city, but FIRST can't do anything about the crime and the Hyatt area seemed rather safe. The event volunteers were saints and I got to meet FLL and FRC teams from all over the planet (thanks to 401 -My deep condolences to all VT students on CD-, 1188, 1574, 2238 and some FLL teams for letting me hang out with them) and, of course, we had a wonderful time as a team in Atlanta. Good luck to everyone next year!
Judging is vastly different from regionals. Judging is broken into divisions, then into awards, with two judges assigned to each award in each section. Due to the nature, many times judges have ONE DAY to interview all the teams available for the award, watch matches of them, and write up why they want them to win. After that, on Saturday, they then present who they want to win to the other three divisions and talk it out.

While I know many judges are great people, many times the ones you go out to either aren't covering your award or aren't covering your division. If you didn't get an award on the regional level, you PROBABLY won't be looked at on the Championship level. There are 90 judges this year, and frankly, they have a lot to do in a little amount of time. And they're doing this for free.
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Unread 04-16-2007, 07:08 PM
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Items 1-6 of things to improve

1. The match algorithm must be quietly put to rest out in the pasture. It's a ridiculous system, no random or fair aspect to it. The ONLY part of the OLD scoring system that actually worked was the match algorithm. FIRST fixed all the parts of the previous system that were broken (they deserve kudos for finally getting a scoring system that worked well the entire season) and then they unfortunately fixed the only thing that wasn't broken, the match generator. Go back to the algorithm that the teams (aka the customers) actually liked.

2. Woodie Flowers Award Winners must have a wall in the Hall of Fame. This is SOOOO obvious it is dumbfounding that it doesn't exist (It's been recommended/requested for 2-3 years)

3. FVC closing ceremonies need to be improved, much like the FLL closing ceremonies were greatly improved.

4. Teams must get more matches. Schools and sponsors are charged way too much money to attend the championships to only play a few times. As someone else stated at the FVC event, if you have more undefeated teams then playoff alliances - then something is seriously wrong. You can not claim something is a "competition" when a team can go undefeated and potentially still not make the playoffs. The options of starting FRC matches on Thursday and extending FVC matches to Saturday is a good ideas - even if JUST ONE OR TWO MORE MATCHES.

5. Bring back the honorable mention list for the Chairman's Award and highlight the winner more. Those teams have done more for FIRST and FIRST growth than anyone, and deserve to be recognized and celebrated for all their hard work.

6. BIG ONE. Rule enforcement & consistency. The Yellow/Red card experiment was a colossal failure. They typically weren't given, there was no consistency in how rules were enforced, and they frequently meant nothing many times when given (an action that changes the outcome from a loss into a victory, that receives a 10 point penalty, but still results in a win for the violator is not a penalty). This is not the fault of the refs (they are volunteers who don't get adequate training, are trying their best and have the best intentions) or the teams who break the rules (they wouldn't do it if the rules were enforced). This was the first year I can recall when many events and divisions were decided by the referees instead of by the teams on the field, and that should never be the case. A very wise and accomplished mentor/coach in FIRST said to me "many refs, once the playoffs start, feel they don't want to make a call that determines the outcome of a match....what they don't realize is that by NOT making a call that is indeed a rule, they ARE determining the outcome of the match....only they are punishing the alliance that didn't break the rules instead of the alliance that did". I think he put it very well and I wish all the refs were trained to take that into consideration when a team is flipped, damaged or pinned by actions that violate the rules of the game.

Important point - For years now, FIRST has allocated a budget to training Judge Advisors and having many of them go to multiple events to ensure consistency. It has been requested for a few years now that FIRST realize that the training and consistency of referees is just as important as judges (if not more important). FIRST should allocate an adequate budget to train a core group of Head Referees each year before the Regionals start, cover their travel and expenses to attend multiple events so that a well trained and consistent group of refs will be at each event and on each Championship field. They must be on the same page regarding was is/isn't a DQ, how rules should be enforced and when warnings should be given - and it needs to be that way in from week 1 until end of the Championship finals. It directly impacts the integrity of the program and the experience teams have after all the hard work they've put in over the year - the teams (again...the customers) deserve this and this year they did not get it.
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Unread 04-16-2007, 07:14 PM
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Things to improve part 2...items 7-12

7. Go back to showing the rankings on the big screen on each field in between matches. Playing the adds for the sponsors is a good idea and practice, but maybe at least alternate - after one match show the ads, after the next match show the rankings, repeat.

8. The serpentine system experiment needs to end and go back to the regular draft order. Again, the C in FRC is for "competition". There is a reason they're called "qualifying matches" and why there are rankings...so teams can try to better their position and chances for the playoffs. There is no rational for punishing a team for seeding # 1 - they earned the right to pick first in each round.

9. The safety award. Great idea and worthy award to have. But the best ideas, if implemented poorly, are no longer good ideas. The award as it exists now is out of control and needs to be reined in - many have pointed out the examples, so I won't go into detail. It should be an award, but it needs to be fixed and treated like the rest of the awards. When more time, resources and judges are spent on any single award other than the Chairman's Award....it should be a signal that it needs to be revisited.

10. FIRST needs to let teams know that there is a wrap video at the end of the Championship Closing Ceremony. Those are great videos, teams love to see them and yet the stands were almost empty when it played because FIRST never told teams it was going to play. The guys who put that video together deserved to have it played to a full house, and the teams who paid $5,000 to be there deserved to see the montage of their experience.

11. FIRST needs to correctly publicize the agendas. Everyone knows at this point that it is NEVER a surprise that the closing ceremonies go "long". In fact, they don't go over the expected time at all - they take that long every year. Yet every year, FIRST prints that the playoffs will end earlier then they and all the teams know it will. Same at the regionals - we all know the playoffs do not end at 3pm....they haven't for years. Yet they still print that in the agenda, which is very bad when sponsors, guests and speakers make plans to watch the playoffs (or speak) and have to miss the end of the finals or the closing ceremonies because they made their schedule around the FIRST public agenda. End the ceremonies when you say you will, or say you will end them later - people just want an honest expectation of what to plan around and expect.

12. If your closing ceremonies go over the stated time, then the after party must be postponed appropriately. There is no excuse for asking performers to prepare to entertain all the teams, then force them to cut their act short and start before the teams arrive. That is not professional or gracious, and should never happen. Not to mention, all the teams who actually stayed at the closing ceremonies didn't get to see the entertainment at the team party that they were charged good money for - does that mean they get a partial refund? Of course not - so if they are going to charge for the ticket to attend, then they shouldn't start it until the ceremonies are over.

my .025 cents

Hope everyone has a wonderful off season!
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Unread 04-16-2007, 07:30 PM
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Re: Championship 2007 - Atlanta - What Needs To Be Improved

Oh, I also wanted to comment about the "free tubes". While I didn't hear the announcment, I do think that that it was a good idea (it was also hilarious to watch the girls, I think on Curie, whatever field was behind Galileo, stuff themselves in inner tubes , it looked so fun!). We're trying to schedule an offseason event at our school to showcase the robot and the game and the tubes were a big help. Maybe next year, people should submit requests for tubes/whatever, and then FIRST can parcel them out after the ceremony or at least after matches on each field were over.
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Unread 04-16-2007, 07:33 PM
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Re: Championship 2007 - Atlanta - What Needs To Be Improved

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Originally Posted by Joe Matt View Post
Judging is vastly different from regionals. Judging is broken into divisions, then into awards, with two judges assigned to each award in each section. Due to the nature, many times judges have ONE DAY to interview all the teams available for the award, watch matches of them, and write up why they want them to win. After that, on Saturday, they then present who they want to win to the other three divisions and talk it out.

While I know many judges are great people, many times the ones you go out to either aren't covering your award or aren't covering your division. If you didn't get an award on the regional level, you PROBABLY won't be looked at on the Championship level.
Thanks for the clarification Joe! As I said, we were expecting to walk away with no awards, I guess we were just disappointed that a great deal of the judges acted like they were offended when we simply tried to offer them a button as they walked past our pit area.

(BTW, I'm not trying to spam the thread with multiple posts, and feel free to delete this if I've done something bad, but I don't know how to put a quote in my previous post! )
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Unread 04-16-2007, 08:07 PM
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Red face Re: Championship 2007 - Atlanta - What Needs To Be Improved

Let me start off by saying that this was our team's first trip to Atlanta (we never qualified before and barely raised the money once we did). On the whole it was an excellent experience, with a few minor drawbacks:

1. We were initially told there would be a shuttle from our hotel to the convention center. There was not. It was about a 20 min. walk, which seemed a lot longer at the end of a long day.

2. The Georgia Dome staff was very nice and polite, but inconsistent about letting food into the dome. At first they would not; then they apparently changed their policy and were allowing food to be brought in (thank goodness considering the ridiculous prices inside; over $3.00 for a 20 oz. soda!!!)

3. There was no where in the pit area to sit down. At the UTC Regional, which we attend each year, there are tables and chairs to the side of the pit area so teams can sit and even eat during strategy sessions once alliances are formed. Our drive team never got to eat before the quarterfinals, and if we had won wouldn't have gotten to eat for quite some time, as no food could be brought into the pits. Knowing this, should we qualify again (and have enough money) I would plan to do what I saw some teams do, that is design toolboxes to double as seating areas for the pit crew.

That being said, everything else was wonderful. Thanks to team 2054 for choosing us in the first round as an alliance partner, and congrats to our other alliance partner, MOE, on the Chairman's Award.
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Unread 04-16-2007, 08:49 PM
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Re: Championship 2007 - Atlanta - What Needs To Be Improved

Quote:
Originally Posted by Luckyfish05 View Post

3. Random thoughts:
Why weren't the lights on in the consession areas for Saturday??? It seems really weird that they didn't have them on. Then for Closing ceremonies when the upper decks are openned up. The guards on the ends, I understand what they were there for, but where they ended the seating wasn't the smartest. It left our team with only one entrance to the aisle, and to get out you had to walk over every other team in that aisle, when there was another entrance out. Caution tape needs to be used to cut an aisle in half when they don't want people past a certain point, but getting yelled at because someone needs to use the restroom and is trying to be considerate by not climbing infront/over of 20 other people doesn't make much sense.
You should _never_ cross caution tape without checking with a person in charge what the hazard is. They were right to yell at you and it would not have been inappropriate to eject you from the event.

That said, I thought the Georgia Dome used caution tape excessively and inappropriately. Caution tape should only be used to signify presence of a hazard and not to, for instance, reserve seats or keep people out of an area you don't want to clean. A different sign/tape should be used. The people who cross my caution tape at my hazardous waste cleanups are risking their lives (and sometimes mine); the Georgia Dome staff seems to be training them to do this.

Also the Georgia Dome staff needs training about how the event is organized. I wanted to volunteer at the event and received correct instructions from staff about how to get to volunteer registration, but that entrance was closed unless you had a badge, but the staff member there gave me correct directions to another entrance that was closed unless you had a badge, but the staff member there gave me correct directions to another entrance that was closed unless you had a badge, but the staff member there gave me correct directions to another entrance that was closed unless you had a badge, but the staff member there gave me correct directions to another entrance that was closed .

Finally I met a bunch of guys from the NASA machine shop who were having the same problem, and eventually we ended up entering a closed entrance, but since I was frustrated and the event didn't seem desparate I didn't volunteer.

Also I think they could put the jumbo trons at the ends of the stadium to good use by displaying, for example, the rankings and match schedule.

I enjoyed seeing all the great teams and robots at the event, but I think the regionals I have attended were about as much fun because the individual teams got more playing time.

Rich Vogel (using his wife's account)
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Unread 04-16-2007, 09:08 PM
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Re: Championship 2007 - Atlanta - What Needs To Be Improved

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Originally Posted by CJV648 View Post

I enjoyed seeing all the great teams and robots at the event, but I think the regionals I have attended were about as much fun because the individual teams got more playing time.

Rich Vogel (using his wife's account)
From the standpoint of fun, FIRST's best days are behind us. The overall experience will never be as much fun at a football arena as it was at EPCOT. Also, in some ways, it will not be as much fun as before alliances because, if your team is doing well, you spend until about midnight Friday compiling a list of potential alliance picks rather than having fun doing things such as attending a baseball game in Atlanta.

BTW, I'm not complaining about the Championship no longer being held at EPCOT. The event has become too large for the temporary facilities we had there. Also, while the event may not be as much fun as it was at EPCOT, it may be better for the intended purpose of FIRST, and the football arenas are definitely better for watching matches than the temporary facilities at EPCOT.
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Unread 04-16-2007, 09:11 PM
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Re: Championship 2007 - Atlanta - What Needs To Be Improved

Of the nine championship events I've been to now, I truly believe this was the worst run one of them all. Thats not to say that there weren't tons of good things going on, but there were quite a few things that bothered me greatly:

1. Team Forums. Nice to see that FIRST made an effort to listen, but did they really expect anything when they schedule the forums during uncrating and the driver's meetings?? I don't know if the Thursday session was better, but the Wednesday session was very poorly attended. The message was certainly clear though.

2. The complete LACK of fanfare. This is the CHAMPIONSHIP EVENT! I can understand not having the ballons because they blocked the upper deck, but there should be SOMETHING that makes this event feel like something special. Maybe there were things cut out because we were running late - no top 10 list? ??

3. Woodie Flowers Ceremony. Shouldn't the things Dan did (Congrats by the way!!) have been read before he was announced as the winner? At first, I was very upset that simply his name was announced and thats it. What happened to the list of finalists that used to be displayed? Perhaps the WFFA winners could be asked to stand and be recognized. It just seems to me that this award is being given less attention than it deserves. I completely agree with the other comments about there needing to be bios or essays of the winners in the HOF.

4. Pits. You can't hear the announcements down there at all. Setup seemed okay to me though, and practice fields were well managed.

5. Scheduling. I know we're saying goodbye to the Algorithim of Death, so hopefully I'll never have to complain about seeing several of the same teams multiple times again. However...I hope the new algorithim is better at spacing as well. There was a team in Curie that was in match 81 and 85 - HOW DOES THAT HAPPEN WITH 86 TEAMS??? Finally, why did we not get a match schedule in the pits until 8:30 on Friday...after the first match was supposed to bed queued? Its not as if the schedule wasn't generated...Archimedes was displayed on the pit screens for nearly an hour before everyone else saw thier schedules..

6. Judging. I feel sorry for the teams that only saw one judge for a few minutes. At least you saw one judge. Team 1675 had a group of judges stop at the pit, give us a sticker to put on our sign without saying anything related to judging, and said they'd be back shortly. They never returned. Unforgiveable. We paid the same entry fee as everyone else and expected the same opportunities to tell our stories and show our stuff as everyone else.

7. Wrap Party. I applaud the effort to move the whole thing indoors. It went well and the performances we did see were pretty neat. However, my kids were really looking forward to seeing DSK, and were very sad to find out they had left the stage before we even left our seats in the dome. We were also under the impression (perhaps falsely...not sure where the rumor came from) that there would be a laser show at the end in place of the fireworks..but no such show occured. FIRST should also be aware that people were turned away from the games without warning at 9:45 after standing in line for quite some time. The staff should have closed the lines at 9:30 and given everyone in line their turn...not abruptly close the game before the event is supposed to end.

8. Bring back Thursday night qualifying and/or reduce the number of teams. Lets do some math. Next year there are 41 regionals. Assuming the same format next year, 6 teams per regional qualify. Thats 246 teams. Then we have the six remaining legacy teams. Thats 252. We now have 14 HOF teams other than legacy teams. That brings us to 266. Add two for the winners (190 already is on the list as a legacy team) and we have 268. Assume the same stats, adjusted for next year, with 45 regionals, and for the 2009 Championship we're at 294ish. Obviously there are going to be some teams that qualify multiple times, so the actual number will drop. Assuming worst case though, we're looking at 67 in 2008 and 72 in 2009 for teams in divisions, without open registration. That works for me...maybe you'd get 8 or 9 matches. Otherwise, play a round or two on Thursday night. If this event is supposed to determine an overall game champion (amongst other things), The best teams need to have a chance to rise to the top. Luck can never be eliminated, but it can be reduced.
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Unread 04-16-2007, 09:15 PM
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Re: Championship 2007 - Atlanta - What Needs To Be Improved

I'd vote for 1, maybe 2 practice rounds Thursday. Then, switch to qualifying rounds after the lunch break. This way, teams get more matches that count. As it stands, teams at the Championship have competed at at least one regional, so they should have a robot that functions pretty well, unless they are performing some complete design change and over haul.
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Unread 04-16-2007, 09:24 PM
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Re: Championship 2007 - Atlanta - What Needs To Be Improved

Those who have only attended one regional have not had that much time to make any major edits that might have been needed to their robots. We got out on the field for all of our practice matches, and real matches, but I understand that there might be some teams that really need this time to make their planned changes to their robots.
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Unread 04-16-2007, 09:28 PM
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Re: Championship 2007 - Atlanta - What Needs To Be Improved

Quote:
Originally Posted by Vogel648 View Post
Those who have only attended one regional have not had that much time to make any major edits that might have been needed to their robots. We got out on the field for all of our practice matches, and real matches, but I understand that there might be some teams that really need this time to make their planned changes to their robots.
A valid point, and we did make some changes Thursday morning (but did not miss any practice). Perhaps increase the amount of time/people allotted for uncrating on Wednesday in order to allow for some quick fixes?
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Unread 04-16-2007, 09:40 PM
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Re: Championship 2007 - Atlanta - What Needs To Be Improved

For those complaining about the schedule, yes I'm among them, there is another thread specifically about that issue. Dave does a good job of trying to lay out the situation there. Read that please. The system is flawed, they know it, and it will be gone next year.

http://www.chiefdelphi.com/forums/sh...ad.php?t=56355
Page 3 contains the explanation
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Unread 04-16-2007, 09:42 PM
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back to school ;-)
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Re: Championship 2007 - Atlanta - What Needs To Be Improved

In the pits I didn't hear one single announcement ever. Were there every any, or we are just expected to know and figure out things?

On the field, I thought the "let's hold a flag pole across it" method of determining bonus points was pretty hokey at times.
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Unread 04-16-2007, 10:13 PM
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Re: Championship 2007 - Atlanta - What Needs To Be Improved

Quote:
Originally Posted by whytheheckme View Post
Tube supply. Was really confused by this. Why were so many Keepers blown up ... Seemed to me that very few of these were popped/cut away, but it seemed like every time I was in queue, there was someone on one of the fields blowing Keepers up. Not really a complaint. Just confused.

Jacob
I think I can answer this if some one hasn't already, those tubes were distributed between all fields (I believe) and at Galileo in particular the head ref was rather slash happy, it seemed that every-other tube was ripped apart. Which in it's own quirky was is a real crowd pleaser.
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