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The Case For 'Regionalizing' teams at the Nationals.

Posted by Joe Johnson.   [PICTURE: SAME | NEW | HELP]


Engineer on team #47, Chief Delphi, from Pontiac Central High School and Delphi Automotive Systems.

Posted on 8/15/2000 7:02 AM MST



The Case For 'Regionalizing' teams at the Nationals.

Consider the following:
Randomly divide teams into groups - named for regions of the country (e.g. N,S, E, W) sponsors (e.g. Delphi, Baxter, NASA, DiamlerChysler) or for scientists (e.g. Newton, Einstien, Currie, Edison) or for Atoms (Helium, Boron, Nitrogen, Oxygen) or for Disney characters (Mickey, Goofy, Pocahontas, Tarzan) or whatever.

Each group would play all its qualifying matches against teams in its group. Each group would have its own picking teams that can only pick from within the group. Each group would have their own elimination rounds and crown their own Championship Alliance. Each Group Champion would go on to the FINAL FOUR.

The FINAL FOUR would be on the MAIN STAGE with everyone present. AT THE AWARD CEREMONY!!!! Why not? We are only talking about 12 teams here. This would be AWESOME! I would really love to see this happen. 15,000 fans all watching the finals! Worthy worthy worthy.

I would gladly give up a seeding round to make room in the schedule to allow this to happen: End the qualifying matches on Friday night, have picking be the first thing on Sat. morning. And begin the Elimination Rounds on Sat. AM. Note: with 4 groups and 16 qualifying alliances per group almost 50% of the teams to play in the Elimination Rounds even with 400 teams at the Nationals.

One more positive benefit would be that teams are more likely to KNOW who the good teams are in their group. This will allow teams to scout more effectively, which is impossible with 400 teams, and to pick the best teams to go forward into the Elimination Tourney.

Beyond even this, the seeding rounds are more likely to produce more accurate seedings because the seeding accuracy is determined by the ratio of seeding rounds to number of teams in the seeding group. By cutting the seeding group to the size the seeding becomes statistically 4 times better (for a given number of seeding rounds).

The only down side to the as far as I am concerned is that one group might be 'stacked' with good teams by accident. This is really no different than the current 'luck of the draw' teams face. Teams either are lucky or unlucky in the seeding rounds based on who they happen to be seeded with or against. At least in the 'regionalized' proposal, unluckily seeded teams would have a fighting chance of getting noticed by one of the picking teams, while they are more likely to go unnoticed in a field of 400.

One final advantage is that it would make a very dramatic, made for TV event of the Final Four.

I strongly urge FIRST to consider this poposal.


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We gotta push for this!!!

Posted by Andy Baker.

Engineer on team #45, TechnoKats, from Kokomo High School and Delphi Automotive Systems.

Posted on 8/15/2000 11:47 AM MST


In Reply to: The Case For 'Regionalizing' teams at the Nationals. posted by Joe Johnson on 8/15/2000 7:02 AM MST:



Joe,

This stuff is great. All of this sounds familiar, but your added twist to have the finals during the awards ceremony is GREAT! Finally, we'll have a made-for-TV event.

I could care less how we are regionalized... if it's random, geographical, corporate, or even by seniority.... as long as we are split up into groups. I'll definitely be wanting to discuss this Thursday at the Forum.

Andy B.


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Excuse me

Posted by Meg Z..

Student on team #349, Robahamas, from International Academy and Ford Motor Co..

Posted on 8/15/2000 4:06 PM MST


In Reply to: We gotta push for this!!! posted by Andy Baker on 8/15/2000 11:47 AM MST:



: Finally, we'll have a made-for-TV event.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think the purpose of FIRST was ever supposed to be getting on TV. It might be great if one day FIRST was recognized as a TV-worthy event, but motivation behind any changes made should not be publicity. FIRST is meant to involve students in engineering. There are already all too many robots designed and built entirely by engineers with little or no student input and participation. Making it all about being on TV will just make this worse. When it comes down to it, fun as the competitions are and exciting as it is to win, FIRST is meant to be about the robot experience, not being famous.

Please note: I do not intend this to be in any way an attack on the ideas presented about changes in nationals. I simply think we all need to stay in the spirit of FIRST.

Meg



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Re: Excuse me

Posted by Justin.

Other on team Blue Lightning Alumni Association from RWU sponsored by FIRST-A-holics Anonymous.

Posted on 8/15/2000 4:21 PM MST


In Reply to: Excuse me posted by Meg Z. on 8/15/2000 4:06 PM MST:



: : Finally, we'll have a made-for-TV event.

: Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think the purpose of FIRST was ever supposed to be getting on TV.

I'm sure that Joe isn't suggestting that the goal of FIRST and those involved it should be solely to seek publicity. I think his point is that Dean's real mission with FIRST is to inspire people and to fundementally change the way society thinks about technology + science. The wider an audience FIRST has the easier it is to spread that message. Just imagine the number of people who might channel surf upon FIRST, especially students, and go 'Hey wow that's really cool I'm gonna look into that.' That means more people getting involved with FIRST teams, which means more lives being changed, and each person FIRST reaches is one step closer to that ultimate goal of Dean's to change the way...not just those in FIRST think about science, technology, and engineering but the way poloticians, parents, teachers, everyone thinks about it and realizes it's importance and ability to raise the quality of human existance.

-Justin


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Wholesale vs retail...

Posted by Joe Johnson.   [PICTURE: SAME | NEW | HELP]


Engineer on team #47, Chief Delphi, from Pontiac Central High School and Delphi Automotive Systems.

Posted on 8/15/2000 7:18 PM MST


In Reply to: Re: Excuse me posted by Justin on 8/15/2000 4:21 PM MST:



Actually, Dean is very candid about his mission in starting FIRST. Making a TV friendly sport was very much on his mind.

As Justin points out, the end result is not TV as a goal, but rather TV as a tool to change the culture of America (and the world).

Dean's vision for marketing technology careers wholesale (via TV and other mass media) rather than retail (via science fairs, etc.) is one of the main reasons I am such a FIRST zeolot. I really believe #1 that the goal is worthy and #2 that the plan can work.

So...

I do not think it is corrupting the vision of FIRST to make changes to the format that will help make it more TV friendly, rather I think that that is an essential part of the vision.

Joe J.


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Re: Wholesale vs retail...-PLEASE READ

Posted by Dan.

Other on team - from Carnegie Mellon sponsored by -.

Posted on 8/15/2000 8:25 PM MST


In Reply to: Wholesale vs retail... posted by Joe Johnson on 8/15/2000 7:18 PM MST:



--I do not think it is corrupting the vision of FIRST
--to make changes to the format that will help make it
--more TV friendly, rather I think that that is an
--essential part of the vision.

So how bout instead of the annual game change, we just have the same game each year?
And maybe we could take all the balls, floppies, etc. out of the picture--they're way too confusing for the mass market, they can only follow one ball at a time.
And lets say we take away most of the pesky rules. No more fussy fuse business or teeny catalogs to order from.

You see what I'm getting at.

August 23rd on Comedy Central, right after Southpark, Battlebots will make its prime time television debut. That is ONE YEAR AFTER ITS FIRST EVENT. Battlebots will, arguably, have more exposure in one year as FIRST has had in eight years. And the Comedy Central series is just the first of, perhaps, many robotic combat television shows. The Sci-Fi channel has already choosen a set for it's Robodeath show and MTV has already filmed a US Robot Wars show in London. The robots are nothing special either, just about any FIRST team could make a successful Battlebot.
I know Dean and Woodie hate Battlebots/Robot Wars because of it's malicious and 'un-coopertitious' aura, but--ironically--Battlebots WILL do what they are trying to do with FIRST.
It WILL turn engineers into stars. Kids WILL play with their Battlebots action figures--they already do in the UK, where Robot Wars RC and action figures are available. And people WILL realize that you can make some pretty cool things if you work hard and learn.
And, believe it or not, Battlebots isn't as malicious as it seems in the arena. I don't think Dean, Woodie, or most people have a good idea what happens outside of the arena. The atmosphere in the pits is just as friendly as FIRST and the atmosphere online is even friendlier. People share everything about their robots and give tips for others. The toughest competitor in my weight class (he's also a judge at a FIRST regional) has even given me some parts for free.

Maybe I didn't understand what you meant by 'changes to the format' but if you're looking for a highly marketable format, it's already out there.
I think the only way FIRST will get prime time exposure is if (like Joe mentioned a while ago) it creates a Pro-FIRST League where profesiional engineers compete and if the rules are simplified. But once Pro-FIRST gets its foot in the door, who knows.
Sorry for being the Johnny-One-Note on this Battlebots thing, but is a very good competition and a very good thing for FIRST. My school wouldn't even have been in FIRST if I hadn't found a link on the Robot Wars site. Lets hope FIRST gets some residual too, and hopefully figures out how to get itself out there as well.
Dan


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I agree, with conditions.

Posted by Joe Johnson.   [PICTURE: SAME | NEW | HELP]


Engineer on team #47, Chief Delphi, from Pontiac Central High School and Delphi Automotive Systems.

Posted on 8/15/2000 8:49 PM MST


In Reply to: Re: Wholesale vs retail...-PLEASE READ posted by Dan on 8/15/2000 8:25 PM MST:



The success of Battle Bots, Robot Wars, Junkyard Wars, etc. is all very encouraging.

I have never attended a Robot Wars-type competition, but I would if one were in the area. I would participate in Robot Wars if I could clone myself. As it stands, I have to pick my battles and I choose FIRST.... at least for the present.

I have only seen on Battle Bots tape, but I was very much impressed by the help folks gave to eachother in the pits. I am quite sure that it is very FIRST-like.

But...

That said, I still like FIRST better. The main reason basically boils down to the same reason I like to what football more than boxing. It is not that I don't enjoy the fight, it is that I sort of hate myself for enjoying it. Let me explain. While at the end of the day, a lot of football player end up leaving the field in a horizontal attitude, unlike boxing, that is not the main purpose of the whole game, there are other goals that are primary which sometimes result in hurt players.

So it is with FIRST and Battle Bots. A lot of robots get broken in FIRST, but the goal is too DO something or prevent something from being done, not to break the other robot. This cannot be said of BattelBots.

And so...

I am sticking with FIRST for now. Hoping that somehow FIRST can make itself TV friendly enough to make it to Prime Time.

Joe J>


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Re: How do we make FIRST ready for prime time?

Posted by Dan.

Other on team - from Carnegie Mellon sponsored by -.

Posted on 8/15/2000 10:01 PM MST


In Reply to: I agree, with conditions. posted by Joe Johnson on 8/15/2000 8:49 PM MST:



Just for the sake of discussion, what does FIRST need to do in order to get into prime time? Nothing specific, let's just lay the framework for marketability. Let's assume that FIRST's philosophy remains the same; so the competition has to be non-destructive.

Here's what I think needs to happen:
------the robots need to be unique------
There need to be countless 'types' of robots, they need to be visually and functionally different even though they may be trying to accomplish the same thing. People want to give robots personalities and think of them as living creatures, this is easier when they're very unique visually. This was FIRST's best year in this respect; there were little wedges and great big armmed robots.
------the purpose of the robots needs to be simple and recognizable at first sight-------
This is why Battlebots can hook an audience so quickly. It's absolutely apparent, with no explanation, what's going on. And immediately you start thinking about what your robot would do. The moment I mentioned 'floppies' or 'trough' when describing the FIRST this year, I usually lost their attention.
Hmm, I can't think of anymore.
I think we should keep in mind that we can't look to long-established sports like racing or basketball for help. In order for FIRST to get its nails in the mass-market it needs to be far catchier and easier to understand than any established sport. I have no idea how that's supposed to happen though.
Dan

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great thoughts Dan

Posted by Ken Patton.   [PICTURE: SAME | NEW | HELP]


Engineer on team #65, The Huskie Brigade, from Pontiac Northern High School and GM Powertrain.

Posted on 8/16/2000 10:54 AM MST


In Reply to: Re: How do we make FIRST ready for prime time? posted by Dan on 8/15/2000 10:01 PM MST:



Dan, I think you are hitting on some key points here. Keep voicing your thoughts about making the game easy to understand - you are dead on in my opinion.

While I tend to agree with Joe on the merits of FIRST versus the merits of Battlebots (i.e., basketball is 'better' than boxing), there is probably some things FIRST could learn from Battlebots and you about making the games have more mass market appeal.

Hopefully Dean and Woodie are paying attention, and taking your ideas into consideration while they formulate future FIRST games.

Ken



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Good Call Ken

Posted by Justin.

Other on team Blue Lightning Alumni Association from RWU sponsored by FIRST-A-holics Anonymous.

Posted on 8/16/2000 12:28 PM MST


In Reply to: great thoughts Dan posted by Ken Patton on 8/16/2000 10:54 AM MST:



Ken,

I think what you said about there being things that FIRST could learn from Battlebotts is _very_ important. It's been my expirence w/FIRST that people can tend to get into camps and those camps are the end all be all. A lot of the time it's either Battlebotts or FIRST and there is no middle ground (and that's not directed at anyone one personally). It is important to realize while we in FIRST have a different set of ideals we can learn from other Robotic competitions. A good analogy might be different cultures, in many ways FIRST has/is it's own culture and it's important to remember that other cultures are a wealth of information, and opprotunties to learn.

-Justin


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Re: Wholesale vs retail...-PLEASE READ

Posted by Amy .

Student on team #126, Gael Force, from Clinton High and NYPRO.

Posted on 8/15/2000 10:33 PM MST


In Reply to: Re: Wholesale vs retail...-PLEASE READ posted by Dan on 8/15/2000 8:25 PM MST:



To me, FIRST seems just as marketable as Battle Bots. Why it isn't on TV, I don't know, but...if the 2000 competition was televised, it would have been obvious to viewers that the object of the game was to put balls into the appropriate goal. Although the audience would not immediately understand other aspects of the game, i.e. other scoring techniques, how qualifying points are awarded, etc. I think that colorful balls, goals, and robots and the obvious object of scoring balls would be enough for a channel surfer to stop and watch. Watering the game down to make it completely obvious and immediately understood by the layperson would definitely cause FIRST to lose something in the aspects of strategy, scouting, and suspense, but you might have noticed that the competition has become much more viewer-friendly over the years without losing everything that sets FIRST apart from Battle Bots and Robot Wars. For example, compare the size of an average robot in 1992 to a 2000 robot...the 'bots are much larger and easier to watch and follow in a match. Another example-in 1992, tennis balls were used...last year, 13-inch balls.


Just my two cents...:-) ;-)


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Re: Excuse me

Posted by Amy .

Student on team #126, Gael Force, from Clinton High and NYPRO.

Posted on 8/15/2000 10:06 PM MST


In Reply to: Excuse me posted by Meg Z. on 8/15/2000 4:06 PM MST:



Being on TV would mean more publicity for FIRST, hence more interest, more involvement, and more inspiration and recognition taking place. I think that being on TV is the ultimate in recognition. :-)


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Re: Excuse me

Posted by Mike.

Student on team #126, Gael Force, from Clinton High School and NYPRO.

Posted on 8/15/2000 10:53 PM MST


In Reply to: Re: Excuse me posted by Amy on 8/15/2000 10:06 PM MST:



I would have to agree with Amy and Justin and Meg because we have seen what happens when athletic events are put on TV (i.e. the Super Bowl, World Series) people go nuts and really get into them. Now if FIRST could pass on the fact that it is an intense competition by brodcasting it and make it widely known over TV then I think people such as students and companys and schools are bound to catch on and say 'Wow this looks awesome, I want to get involved' which I think will bring more teams and events to FIRST. And just maybe the US FIRST robotics competition will be another huge TV event, which could show people science and technology isn't just about computers and to show people there is more to the fields of science and technology, which I thought was one of the purposes of FIRST.


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The Case Against 'Regionalizing' teams at the Nationals.

Posted by Nate Smith.

Other on team #66, GM Powertrain/Willow Run HS, from Eastern Michigan University and GM Powertrain.

Posted on 8/15/2000 11:53 AM MST


In Reply to: The Case For 'Regionalizing' teams at the Nationals. posted by Joe Johnson on 8/15/2000 7:02 AM MST:



While I agree that in the near future(if not already), something will need to be done about the size of Nationals, my personal opinion is that 'regionalizing' is not the way to go. Read on for my comments as to why...

: One more positive benefit would be that teams are more likely to KNOW who the good teams are in their group. This will allow teams to scout more effectively, which is impossible with 400 teams, and to pick the best teams to go forward into the Elimination Tourney.

While I agree that it is very hard, if not impossible, to scout all the teams at nationals as a single team, that is why the scouting alliances(SOAP, GMCIA, and others that I know are in the works) will become so important in the coming years until Nationals is made a qualification-only event. *cringes*

: The only down side to the as far as I am concerned is that one group might be 'stacked' with good teams by accident. This is really no different than the current 'luck of the draw' teams face. Teams either are lucky or unlucky in the seeding rounds based on who they happen to be seeded with or against. At least in the 'regionalized' proposal, unluckily seeded teams would have a fighting chance of getting noticed by one of the picking teams, while they are more likely to go unnoticed in a field of 400.

It's true that there is a greater chance of being overlooked if you are in a larger group, but it could also happen that you may get stuck with an alliance that is not as good as it could be, because the team that would be the best match for yours was locked into another group. And even though I know a few people will cringe when I say this, a way around being overlooked is to advertise...just one word of advice when advertising: don't put what your machine CAN do, put what it HAS done...


Just my thoughts...

Nate

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At first I thought so too...

Posted by Splash.

Student on team #53, Team Inferno, from Eleanor Roosevelt High School and NASA GSFC.

Posted on 8/15/2000 3:09 PM MST


In Reply to: The Case Against 'Regionalizing' teams at the Nationals. posted by Nate Smith on 8/15/2000 11:53 AM MST:



When the regionalizing idea came up, I thought, the mid-west was going to have a stacked division. Then I thought, make it random. Hopefully, ever division would be equal (probably won't happen, but hope). Then I realized that with 16 alliances in each of 4 divisions, 48 teams are going to be coming out of a group of 100. Considering that teams may pick from anyone, by the time the last 8 alliances are formed, the robots that teams wanted for partners are going to be gone.

After thinking about it, that is a positive. Chances are high that ever group is probably going to go through the same thing where one alliance after another pick from the top 16. This means that every region will have strong alliances. One region may have 12 hypothetically strong alliances, another region may only have 2. By the time they begin competing against each other, the best alliances will have emerged. This is just like Nationals in its current phase. (This is about to get confusing)If the #1 seeded team picks the #15 seeded team which was the
#2 seeded team's top choice and best match, they might feel if there was another strong team they would have a better opportunity. The system is the same, if you want to pick from a deeper group, finish ranked higher.

Regardless of the few negatives, it's still better than the current system. Less teams get overlooked, more teams get to experience the finals.


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