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Sean Marks
03-03-2007, 10:44 PM
I know its early to be talking about it. But as a rookie team going to Nationals, i wanted to see what to expect.
Is it like Regionals?
Is it Completely different?
Any shared experiences will be greatly appreciated. Stories are fun to hear too.:D

P.S. I know how it runs with 4 divisions eventually ending in 1 Final. My question is more on what to expect.

Thanks in Advance,
Sean

Alex Cormier
03-03-2007, 10:53 PM
Well i will start with the basics, the award gets you a spot in ATL, not a paid entrance.

It is like 4 huge regionals under 1 roof. The matches will be a little more aggressive as this is the last place for most teams to compete. It is always a great time and you will never forget it as a amazing rookie year. i remember our rookie year, we won Buckeye and went onto the champs, didn't do that well but it was a blast and i will never forget it.

Get a hotel near the dome and all in a walking distance, the social is a great time if your team can afford it as well. I reccomend using the MARTA system to and from the airport, saves money for everyone.

Strategy meetings on friday is very important even if your team is in the 20th spot! Just in case be prepared for everything.

im probably forgeting some things, but that's the good thing about the CD community, there is always someone thinking right and adds thier input.

Steve W
03-03-2007, 10:55 PM
What are Nationals? I've heard of Regionals and Championships.

KathieK
03-04-2007, 07:58 AM
What are Nationals? I've heard of Regionals and Championships.
Ah, yes, Steve is reminding us all that the FRC event in Atlanta is known as the FIRST Robotics Competition Championship ("nationals" is an incorrect term in that FIRST is a multinational organization).

In addition to the FRC event, held concurrently are the FIRST Vex Challenge World Championship, the FIRST LEGO League World Festival, the FIRST Robotics Conference (which I highly recommend rookie teams attend) and several other small unofficial events (including the Chief Delphi Web Hug, the NEMO Annual Meeting, a meeting for rookie teams is usually organized and the Robot Chicks Union also meets - I am sure there are others that I'm not aware of). Altogether over 500 robots will be competing on 6 fields. If you have some time while there, be sure to visit the FLL and FVC pits and competitions on Thursday and Friday... FRC is not the only game in town in Atlanta!

If you look through the threads in the Championship Event forum (http://www.chiefdelphi.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=12) on CD you will find LOTS of information to help your team prepare for Atlanta.

RoboMom
03-04-2007, 08:15 AM
It is a good 10 minute walk from the pits to the playing fields. There will be a lot of time waiting in line. There will only be 4 people allowed to make that walk. You need to have a plan for working on your robot, while standing in line.

It is an even longer walk from the pits to the stands, depending on the escalators and the number of people. You may have team members who end up never going to the Dome, but stay in the pit.

The scale of everything there is so much bigger, and teams need to plan a bit.

Jack Jones
03-04-2007, 08:18 AM
What are Nationals? I've heard of Regionals and Championships.

Steve - I agree that with the growing number of international teams, people should stop calling the Championship the Nationals.

After all, isn't one of last year's Champions from Canada?

On the other hand, six teams from less than 30 miles from where I now sit have become Champions over the last five years. So, maybe we should start calling it the MoTown Invitational? :rolleyes: ;) ;)

Travis Hoffman
03-04-2007, 08:24 AM
I know its early to be talking about it. But as a rookie team going to Nationals, i wanted to see what to expect.
Is it like Regionals?
Is it Completely different?
Any shared experiences will be greatly appreciated. Stories are fun to hear too.:D

P.S. I know how it runs with 4 divisions eventually ending in 1 Final. My question is more on what to expect.

Thanks in Advance,
Sean

At the Championship, you graduate from basketball/hockey arenas to an NFL Stadium - Atlanta's Georgia Dome. Five full FIRST fields are set up on the dome floor. The central field is Einstein, where the "Final Four" takes place at the end of the competition.
Get ready for a lot more walking - some of it outside, but the weather is usually nice. If it does rain, however, it will rain A LOT!!!!
The Championship Wrap Party "team social" is held at Centennial Olympic Park on Saturday, immediately after the competition has ended. It is a great time with lots of food, performances, a really, really good fireworks show against a scenic downtown backdrop, inflatable games (boxing, bungee races, pugil stick battles - stuff like that), and other goodies. It's a nice way to end the weekend with all the other teams.
Each division is named after a famous scientist - Archimedes, Newton, Curie, and Galileo. Each division holds typically between 70-80 teams, and divisional play is conducted exactly like a normal regional. Because of the huge number of teams in each division, be prepared for fewer matches than you'd expect at a typical regional - make each match count!
FIRST typically assigns divisions by ordering the Championship team list by team number and counting off 1, 2, 3, 4.....1, 2, 3, 4.....and so on until the divisional lists are filled. They will release the list sometime after the last regional has played (a week or so afterwards, IIRC) and all qualifying teams are given a chance to register and pay for their events.
The overall quality of the teams attending the Championship will be nothing like you've seen at most regionals. Divisional team lists will be filled with great veterans and impressive rookies. A much higher percentage of matches will be competitive.
The pits for all teams are set up in the Georgia World Congress Center convention hall, which is right next to the Georgia Dome. Each division has its own section of the hall, color coded by divider curtains. Nothing prepares you for the first time you see over 280 pits and robots together in the same place. You are free to walk throughout the hall to any divisional area, but ALWAYS be aware of your team's schedule and don't lose track of time, especially if you are on a drive team or pit crew!
For those who may be tied to the pits most of the competition, FIRST provides a video feed of each field, as well as a continuously-updated rankings list, so you can follow the action from the pit area if you have to miss a match or two.
If you are fortunate enough to make the divisional elims, the distance between the pits and field makes it impossible to go back and forth swapping batteries and such, so make sure you bring all essential batteries, chargers, tools, spare parts, etc. with you to the dome floor. Only so many people will be allowed around the field during elims - your entire drive team, your coach, and typically 3 designated team members who must wear a "Pit Crew" sticker. Power is typically supplied to teams behind the curtains on each field, but bring plenty of power strips! Your team should really plan ahead for the best case scenario and be ready to roll in case you seed as a picking team or are picked by another team.
Someone else's turn......:D

JaneYoung
03-04-2007, 10:18 AM
- If you have an opportunity to meet some of the fine folks of FIRST, smile, shake their hands, and tell them it is a pleasure to meet them. When you walk away, you can go nuts saying you cant believe you just met....
but save that part until then.

- the spirit and energy at the event is like your regional only magnified. You will be sitting in the stands surrounded by veteran teams and rookie teams. Introduce yourselves and share your give-aways. In the pits, make time to look around. Don't just stay in your division, go check out other divisions. Your first priority is the team and the team schedule, taking care of business so have a plan for people to take turns exploring and checking things out. We use a buddy system at regionals and at the Championship.

- your life has changed and will continue to change with each FIRST experience - for the better

next...

JBotAlan
03-04-2007, 10:26 AM
-Don't expect internet access to work. There was one (yes, 1) access point set up, and as you can expect it was just saturated with traffic; I kept getting disconnected. I'd be on CD for 5 minutes, then the next 5 minutes my connection would die. So, don't waste your time on the wireless there. You don't need to get on the 'net anyway...but hey I was a stupid freshman;)

-Just in case, you might want a rain coat of some sort. Even if it's just a trash bag, you'll want something--you end up walking *outside* to get from the arena to the pits, and I remember my freshman year there was a huge thunderstorm and just the 30sec I was outside I was soaked. And both places are heavily air-conditioned, so it's a bit chilly for awhile.

-Enjoy yourself, at least a bit. As a newbie, I was obsessed with our ranking and missed out on a lot of fun because of it.

That's about all I've got...

EDIT: - If you have an opportunity to meet some of the fine folks of FIRST, smile, shake their hands, and tell them it is a pleasure to meet them. When you walk away, you can go nuts saying you cant believe you just met....
but save that part until then. Sounds like you're speaking from experience. Any funny stories associated with this?

Sean Marks
03-04-2007, 10:30 AM
Thanks for all so far. Hopefully more to come. :) I am sorry for calling it Nationals, because it is the Championships. I will correct myself from now on. It all sounds like a lot of fun with so many things to do.:D

Billfred
03-04-2007, 10:33 AM
- If you have an opportunity to meet some of the fine folks of FIRST, smile, shake their hands, and tell them it is a pleasure to meet them. When you walk away, you can go nuts saying you cant believe you just met....
but save that part until then.QFT.

I did a lot of traveling last year, perhaps too much, and if there's one thing I've learned, it's to watch and listen to all these people you meet. The more you see how things operate, you'll come away with a great deal of knowledge. How does a team working out of a mentor's garage with a drill press and a chop saw build a robot that makes it to within one match of going to Einstein? What's the magic behind West Coast Drive? Why did 25's robot last year don a new paint job for the later off-seasons--and how do they turn into such a brick on the field when they want? All of these were answered by asking folks questions and hearing what teams had to say. These opportunities don't come around often.

Also, make sure you give yourself a bit of time one of the days to just do a complete walk of all four divisions, plus FLL and FVC if you can swing it. (My preferred time is Thursday night, when nobody's running off to the field.) You can see a lot of great teams and robots that way.

BlondeNerd
03-04-2007, 11:38 AM
From what I understand from these posts (correct me if I am wrong) is that teams must go outdoors to get their bot from the pit to the field. So, if it is raining, then the bot must go out in the rain to get to the field? Sounds like the fabled water game to me. How are the bots kept safe in the rain?

SPurekar
03-04-2007, 11:40 AM
From what I understand from these posts (correct me if I am wrong) is that teams must go outdoors to get their bot from the pit to the field. So, if it is raining, then the bot must go out in the rain to get to the field? Sounds like the fabled water game to me. How are the bots kept safe in the rain?

There is a tunnel underground for the drivers and robot to get from the Congress Center to the Dome, so rain doesn't affect the robots. Everyone else has to go outside to get to the pits.

Alex Cormier
03-04-2007, 11:41 AM
From what I understand from these posts (correct me if I am wrong) is that teams must go outdoors to get their bot from the pit to the field. So, if it is raining, then the bot must go out in the rain to get to the field? Sounds like the fabled water game to me. How are the bots kept safe in the rain?

The spectators must go outside, there is the under ground railroad for robots and drivers.

BlondeNerd
03-04-2007, 11:41 AM
There is a tunnel underground for the drivers and robot to get from the Cogress Center to the Dome, the rain doesn't affect the robots. Everyone else has to go outside to get to the pits.

Thanks

VanMan
03-04-2007, 11:46 AM
We are in the process of getting the money for nationals. We have a few sources that we will get it from. We are not too far from having the money but we still need a bit more.

KathieK
03-04-2007, 02:38 PM
- If you have an opportunity to meet some of the fine folks of FIRST, smile, shake their hands, and tell them it is a pleasure to meet them. At every event you go to, seek out the fine folks of FIRST, or the Regional Director, FIRST Senior Mentor, VISTA Volunteer, Chair of the planning committee, any member of the planning committee, the referees, judges, technical field advisors, sponsors and on and on and on. Many of these people don't work frenetically 6 weeks a year building a robot. They work frenetically 12 months a year building this program so we can all benefit. Say THANK YOU. Say THANK YOU for volunteering your time so I can be a part of this great event. Say THANK YOU for organizing this event so my team could compete in it. Say THANK YOU for securing the funds so that we can have an event that rivals any sports team championship. We all get so caught up with winning or losing or keeping track of rankings that we forget to revel in the moment and thank those people that are making it happen for us.

RoboMom
03-04-2007, 02:51 PM
There is a tunnel underground for the drivers and robot to get from the Congress Center to the Dome, so rain doesn't affect the robots. Everyone else has to go outside to get to the pits.

It's the scenic route. Past the machine shop and any number of really smelly dumpsters. Be sure to say hi and thanks to the great team queuing volunteers who are stationed here.

GaryVoshol
03-04-2007, 03:06 PM
There is a tunnel underground for the drivers and robot to get from the Congress Center to the Dome, so rain doesn't affect the robots. Everyone else has to go outside to get to the pits.

It's the scenic route. Past the machine shop and any number of really smelly dumpsters. Be sure to say hi and thanks to the great team queuing volunteers who are stationed here.

G'won. It had red carpet. Had to watch for those snakes, though. :ahh: :D

<Shamless plug> Volunteers get to use the inside route too. Volunteer to help at the event, and you can walk on the red carpet. </Shameless plug.>

Arefin Bari
03-04-2007, 03:18 PM
Seems like everyone else covered everything that you need to know...

Have fun, that's what you are there for. Meet new people, you never know who becomes your close friend. Stop by the volunteers and make sure you say thanks to them, it takes a lot to put together an event like this. Stop by the mentors from other teams and ask them questions about their robot, you will learn a lot.

Again, have fun, but make sure it's not harmful to anyone.

Good luck and we will see you soon. =)

Bongle
03-04-2007, 04:34 PM
I'm just writing thoughts as I think of them as my timelapse video of the pits->field tunnel uploads to youtube.

Make sure you bring good shoes. The walk from the pits to the field can take a about 5-10 minutes one way, and if you do the round trip for every match, that adds to a substantial amount of distance in one day. If you're staying in the pits to work on the robot, you'll be standing for all the time you aren't walking or watching your 2 minute match. By the end of the first day, my feet were just destroyed, and I'm an athletic guy.
Edit: Measured it on google earth. You can expect to walk a half-mile from the middle of the GWCC to the furthest quarter of the Georgiadome. So if you return to the pits after each match, that's a full mile per match.

Bring some decent food in a backpack if you're into that kind of thing, because subsisting on hotdogs and food-court fast food for 3 days isn't fun.

Bring all your nerdy toys. People were in awe of my powerball (http://www.powerballs.com/) all weekend. I lost count of how many strangers asked me what it was. Also, if you're just watching or are media, there'll be plenty of time to waste.

For the love of Dean, get into the stands for the einstein matches early, and try to get on the lower level. They fill up very fast once they open. Last year they had balloons full of confetti for the chairman's award winner that quite badly blocked the view from the upper stands. Don't try to keep your team together for the einstein matches, because you probably won't be able to and you're going to waste valuable potential seats while you search in vain for a contiguous block of seats.

In contrast, seats are plentiful around the individual fields. Spread out and get comfortable. We hung a canadian flag from the 2nd level somehow (possibly through rule-breaking, I wasn't there for its hanging), and that was a good marker so you knew which tier of seats to head down when you were walking around the outside.

Remember to use your media pass! We had ours for 2 days before we realized that nobody was using it, and I finally got to go down onto the field.


Make sure you save some camcorder space and batteries for the fireworks on Saturday. I've never seen a better show in my life, and don't really expect to see another one like it. No one will believe how good they were unless you have video to show them. It's kind of surreal seeing central Atlanta covered in firework smoke in between the skyscrapers.

Sign up early and often for time on the practice fields. There aren't many, and there are LOTS of teams that want to use them. There are no power outlets near the practice field, so if you want to change programs while on the practice field, make sure that your laptop has a decent battery. The practice fields will be (or at least were last year) fully operational competition fields, not wooden mockups like at regionals I've been to.

Buy a tshirt/souvenir, even if you're feeling cheap that particular day. You may never be back.

It may be too late for this, but make sure that your team has distinctive teamwear. With 300 teams there, navy blue or black with some writing on it doesn't really cut it when you're trying to pick your friends out from the crowd. Our team actually got an entire new set of tshirts for Atlanta because we could never find each other in the stands at GTR. Also make sure that everyone is wearing their stuff. It's much easier to pick someone out across the dome if you're looking for a known shirt rather than a known face.

The weather was a gorgeous 20 degrees celcius (low 80s fahrenheit? I don't know) when I was there in 2006, and I don't remember any rain during the competition. MARTA was pretty straightforward to use from the airport.

This video is taking forever, so I'll stop here and edit it in later.

rohit
03-04-2007, 04:41 PM
uggh.. Regionals was so much fun and "championship" sounds soo much better.

I wish we could go. This was my second year and we didn't get to go. I hope that we will do well enough to go next year

Bongle
03-04-2007, 04:45 PM
uggh.. Regionals was so much fun and "championship" sounds soo much better.

I wish we could go. This was my second year and we didn't get to go. I hope that we will do well enough to go next year

Remember, you can always take a unused spot at championships, to go for the experience. You don't HAVE to win regional chairman's or a regional, though it probably means you'll have more success at the championship if you do.

And you can go as a mentor later in life. I managed to fly from Toronto and arrive thursday morning at 11am (wake-up at quarter to 4am), thus missing only 2 days of work.

Elyse Holguin
03-04-2007, 04:53 PM
Make sure you bring good shoes.
He's not kidding folks, even if you are a driver/coach/volunteer and get to walk on the coveted red carpet, GOOD SHOES ARE A MUST! You might want to invest in odor eaters too, ask anyone affiliated with the Purdue teams (1747/1646/461) how my feet smelled.

Bring some decent food in a backpack if you're into that kind of thing, because subsisting on hotdogs and food-court fast food for 3 days isn't fun.
Just make sure you hide it well, as food isn't really allowed into the stands.

Remember to use your media pass! We had ours for 2 days before we realized that nobody was using it, and I finally got to go down onto the field.
Plus, if you have it, you can walk the red carpet too, and take pictures of the gross dumpsters and snakes and rats and whatnot (kidding! it wasn't that bad).


Sign up early and often for time on the practice fields.
Make sure you have someone paying attention to that too!! Time will lag, teams will forget to show up, and EVERYONE needs to practice.


The weather was a gorgeous 20 degrees celcius (low 80s fahrenheit? I don't know) when I was there in 2006, and I don't remember any rain during the competition.
If the weather cooperates, it usually is pretty nice, but don't ONLY bring shorts, because it can be cold! Also remember that flip flops aren't allowed in the pits.

RoboMom
03-04-2007, 05:38 PM
Edit: Measured it on google earth. You can expect to walk a half-mile from the middle of the GWCC to the furthest quarter of the Georgiadome. So if you return to the pits after each match, that's a full mile per match.

Bring some decent food in a backpack if you're into that kind of thing, because subsisting on hotdogs and food-court fast food for 3 days isn't fun.


LOL. I would always say "it will feel like you are walking a mile..."

>>>more shameless plugs<<<
Volunteers get free food. In the volunteer lounge. Of course, you will have to walk a mile.... (Just kidding-there are 2 volunteer lounges and one is near the pits!)

BRosser314
03-04-2007, 05:46 PM
Steve - I agree that with the growing number of international teams, people should stop calling the Championship the Nationals.

After all, isn't one of last year's Champions from Canada?

On the other hand, six teams from less than 30 miles from where I now sit have become Champions over the last five years. So, maybe we should start calling it the MoTown Invitational? :rolleyes: ;)

As much as I would like to call it the MOTown Invitational, I think if that happened many teams would be very upset since there are other areas of the country that do produce a good amount of winners. But me being a michigander and a mentor of a MOTown team, Michigan and the detroit area do produce some very excellent robots, but there are teams tht go undefeated in a single year and sometimes 2 years, that never go to the Champinoship event. So i mean as much as MOTown Invitational sound cool, I like Championship better, sounds more prestigous:D :rolleyes: ;)

BRosser314
03-04-2007, 05:51 PM
When I was there in 2004 for the first year of Nationals in Atlanta I was really overwhelmed as a Sophmore. Since I was a pit person I made that hike from the pits to the stands after every match, back then I remember being able to run or walk a t a very brisk pace.:D Also me and a few other found a secret way to get to the stand in about 10 minutes, our secret only, but we were very stealthy, and I think its blocked off now:mad: But going back this year as a Freshman at college and a mentor of a different team, I have so much expectations for FIRST and The properly name Championship event.:D I wish luck to all rookie teams that are going, and any student taht has not been to this event,

Priyadarshy
03-04-2007, 06:32 PM
is there a fireworks show every year because it was just phenomenal?
i couldnt believe it was real!

SPurekar
03-04-2007, 06:35 PM
is there a fireworks show every year because it was just phenomenal?
i couldnt believe it was real!


Does anyone have a video of the fireworks? I know it won't look as great at the original, but it's better than nothing. My team had to go back to the hotel and we missed it... I really wish I'd seen it, now that everyone says it was soo good.

Bongle
03-04-2007, 06:49 PM
I've lost the original and forget how much this was sped up (probably about 10x), but here is a video of how long the walk is to the fields along the shorter red-carpet route:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YSjKVDgnWwY

JackN
03-04-2007, 10:17 PM
-Be prepared to have fun, it is the most important part of the championship.

-Prepare your scout team to work super hard, there are a ton of teams to watch

-Get ready for the best matches you will see all year

-Meet new people

-Go to the webhug

Koko Ed
03-04-2007, 10:19 PM
I've lost the original and forget how much this was sped up (probably about 10x), but here is a video of how long the walk is to the fields along the shorter red-carpet route:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YSjKVDgnWwY

Gah!
Just watching that eleveated my heartbeat and it wasn't because of excitement.
I thought Houston was bad....

dangerousdave
03-05-2007, 12:50 AM
Does anyone have a video of the fireworks? I know it won't look as great at the original, but it's better than nothing. My team had to go back to the hotel and we missed it... I really wish I'd seen it, now that everyone says it was soo good. I have never been as close to fireworks as I was at the Saturday night party in Centennial Olympic park in April, 2006. Fireworks casings (very small) were literally falling on me and our table. It was not a problem for anyone as far as I know but unexpected. It was an incredible show however! It was well integrated with the group, Rhythm Extreme, performing on stage prior to the fireworks.

When I was there in 2004 for the first year of Nationals in Atlanta I was really overwhelmed as a Sophmore. Since I was a pit person I made that hike from the pits to the stands after every match, back then I remember being able to run or walk a t a very brisk pace.:D
You may remember that in 2004 the pits were not in the closest GWCC building (C) to the Georgia Dome so your walk would have been much longer. That was corrected in 2005. Yes it is still quite a hike when compared to regionals.

Dave

Laura 1547
03-05-2007, 09:42 AM
Championships is probably one of the best weekends you'll ever experience. Enough said.

I remember 2 years ago it was our first year and my jaw dropped when I walked in and saw just how huge it actually is. The same thing happened last year and I'm pretty sure it will happen if we go again this year. Not only do you get to meet people from different countries, but the competition is intense and there is never a moment that you are bored.

Koko Ed
03-05-2007, 10:28 AM
Prepare to be overwhelmed.

wolfj
03-05-2007, 03:11 PM
I know that winning an award gets you into the nationals, but which awards do it? Is it all awards, or just winners, Rookie All Star, and Chairman's Award? And, does it get you in for just that season, or just one season, whenever you want? (I don't think it makes sense for it to be used any season, but someone told me that.) That's a lot of questions, but whatever.

AdamHeard
03-05-2007, 03:15 PM
I know that winning an award gets you into the nationals, but which awards do it? Is it all awards, or just winners, Rookie All Star, and Chairman's Award? And, does it get you in for just that season, or just one season, whenever you want? (I don't think it makes sense for it to be used any season, but someone told me that.) That's a lot of questions, but whatever.

Chairmans
Engineering Inspiration
Rookie All Star
Regional Winners

So, 3-6 Teams per regional.

I've lost the original and forget how much this was sped up (probably about 10x), but here is a video of how long the walk is to the fields along the shorter red-carpet route:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YSjKVDgnWwY

Awesome!!! You pass right by our robot and I at the end.

Also, my team timed it to be about 6-8 minutes from pits to the queue line (for Newton). I bet you can add another minute for whatever division is the opposite corner of the entrance.

Jeff Pahl
03-18-2007, 07:53 PM
Make sure you have a good cart for your robot. Not only is the walk long, it's not flat. You have to go up a ramp in the middle. Trying to use a furniture dolly will be a very frustrating experience. Also, make sure there is room on the cart for a spare battery and a basic set of tools, as there will be times you will not want (or have time) to go back to the pits between matches, especially if you make it to the elimination rounds. One of the best things I saw last year was a team that had a place in their cart for a couple of lawn chairs. You get tired of sitting on the floor of the dome after a while.

Each field had a table where you could connect a video recoder to the feed that was going to the big screen, so you may want to bring along a portable recorder to record your matches.

The weather here in Atlanta that time of year is very unpredictable, it may be hot or cold or both. However, you can pretty much count on at least one good thunderstorm. The walk from the pits to the dome for everyone except the drive team is outdoors.

One recommendation I have, especially for rookie teams, is to get at least one registration to the FIRST Conference. It's Thursday and Friday, and is a bunch of presentations by some of the best people in FIRST. You can send different people to different sessions, it's an unbelievable opportunity to learn from the best. Also, make sure to take some time to just walk around the pits of the other divisions and get to see all the robots.

Good Luck to all who will be coming here to Atlanta! Wish we had qualified, looks like I will be volunteering somewhere.