Award for Scouting Systems

I’ve been recently thinking about how there is no award for scouting systems and after a bit of looking around I came across this thread. It has been over 5 years since that thread has been made and about two years since the last post in it. In a hope to re-spark the conversation, I wanted to make this poll

  • Yes there should be an award related to scouting
  • No there should not be an award related to scouting
  • No opinion

0 voters

Imo, with all the awards we have, there is very little reason as to why this should be the only core part of a team that isn’t celebrated with an award. I am sure there are students out there who work just as hard, if not harder, than a programmer who worked on the robots autonomous code that won the team an award. I really believe an award would help the culture, and push more kids into learning very useful skills. Scouting often isn’t seen in the best light, and maybe an award can change that. Data analytics is very important in the “real world”, and should be seen as such. (I ironically say as I add more bias to my own poll)

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The award for good scouting is a Blue Banner


As commonly said in the previous thread, the same argument can be made for many of the robot awards. Should we instead get rid of excellence in engineering, industrial design, quality, autonomous, etc?


This is not accurate. There is nothing in the criteria for awards that say it has to be the BEST at something. Simply that they contribute to achieving game objectives.

Good scouting directly contributes to winning. Being good at awards is mostly about talking good.


For the sake of accuracy, functionally all of the robot awards are not given to teams who necessarily have a “winning robot.” They’re generally awarded for a specific feature of a robot that is unique or exceptional. None of the requirements are related to whether the feature makes sense or contributes to a winning strategy.

As to the topic at hand, I am not a fan of an award for scouting systems purely due to the fact that almost every fancy scouting system (the type that a judge would think is worth an award) that I’ve seen churns out inaccurate data, and either the team picks without thought given to their raw data or makes consistently weak picks. The traits that lead to a quality scouting team, such as accuracy and dedication from the scouting team are not traits that are easily judge-able across an event and are usually independent of what the analytics or scouting systems used.


There isint a lot to do at a shallow regional when the local powerhouse and the out of state powerhouse team up and you’re the 7th alliance captain.

That being said, I cant see much reason for an actual award to be added, much less be worth district points in a district. The GP/Safety awards being as much as any other standard award (and safety can stack with a standard award) is already something I’m not onboard with, I dont want another.

It also seems like a P2W award. Who’s gonna give it to a reliable paper scouting system when theres the flashy laptop scout with questionable accuracy to give it to?

Edit: seems like Luke beat me to my last point


Why can’t scouting awards be for a “specific feature” of a teams scouting system?


EE -

  • The feature(s) reflect an engineering solution to a specific problem, and it is functional and practical.
  • The feature(s) are elegant and advantageous on the field of play.

ID -

  • Designing the machine contributes to the team’s success in FIRST – not just in performance on the field of competition.

Quality -

  • Building the machine contributes to the team’s success in FIRST – not just in performance on the field of competition.

Auton, Creativity, and Innovation explicitly don’t require on field performance (Autonomies and Inno do require demonstrated functionality though).

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Sadly, what’s written isint always followed, especially for judged awards.

Lemme spoil the judging process a little - those are the criteria followed in the judge room.

Source - Former Judge Advisor and current Judge at NCMP (I couldn’t justify two champs).

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I know you are a judge/JA. You haven’t been quiet about it before.

That doesn’t mean that different things happen in different locations. Different locations judge differently, and it has shown.

Personally, I’m already not a fan of the way that these awards are handed out. The titles and descriptions are pretty misleading as to how the award is actually judged and I wouldn’t be a fan of adding any more of these awards. Also, Mikal’s comment on the “pay to win” aspect of this becomes pretty relevant here. Why would you ever give the award to the team with the gritty but effective paper system when the team next to them spent thousands of dollars on laptops with data and simulation capabilities? Admittedly this is a little bit of a slippery slope argument, but with some of the things I’ve seen teams do for the Safety award I wouldn’t be surprised to see anything in the name of 5 District Points. Maybe at Championships I’d be ok with this, but there could be other problems with introducing a new, unique award at that level.

As to Andrew - I mostly meant that the awards are judged very differently from how the blurbs said at the awards ceremony would imply. Also, there is a lot of nuance in the descriptions given and the actual judging of each award rarely matches up directly with how your average team member would expect the award to be judged. (Also, each region has different judging procedures and judges initial impressions of how an award works will flavor their judging much more than it maybe should)


Why can’t a team get an award for a for a specific function in their scouting that is unique or exceptional? My exact argument is that these awards are not always given to the “winning” teams. There can be features that don’t always produce a win or tournament success, but can still be unique and exceptional enough to deserve an award. For example, 1640 in their scouting app can draw out a teams autonomous path on a tablet. That’s a pretty unique and useful feature.

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Correct me if I’m wrong, but this argument only holds up if you assume that a scouting system is only getting scored on overall preformace, and no one has to talk to judges about that.

Imo, both of those assumptions would be false. The award should be written for a unique element of a scouting system (perhaps a uniquely developed app that makes entering data easy).

And of course students would still have to argue for their system, just like every other award. So why would an award for scouting be any different?

Finally, are you arguing that the teams that win the quality award or otherwise has absolutely 0 correlation to better on field preformace? Being good at scouting directly contributes to success in the field, just as having a robust robot would.

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As I’ve mentioned above, these awards often imply something very different from their actual meaning. Also, I personally am very much encouraging teams to dedicate one or two students to an award so that they can spend the entire season or build season trying to figure out and develop a “unique” feature that could be award-worthy. Why not encourage teams to spend time learning how to effectively use simple analytics that they understand well rather than try to find a way to be “unique.”

Sure the quality award probably has a decent correlation with the winningness of a team, but Creativity, Innovation in Controls, even Quality or Industrial Design (depending on the strength of the event) likely has a rather negligible correlation with on-field performance, beyond implying that the team can drive.

Have teams submit ordered lists of the top 24 teams and give an award to the submission that has the highest correlation with the other submissions.

I don’t think this would work particularly well, but if all submissions got published it would be a very interesting data set for me to look at. :grinning:


The main argument I am seeing here and in the previous thread is that good scouting’s reward is winning the event. In Illinois, we have teams like 4096, 5847, and 3061. All of which have incredible scouting systems, and all of which are not anywhere close to the top of an event. The point of a scouting award is the same as all awards, to recognize a team’s acheivements in a certain area. You could say “the reward for have a well designed robot should not be excellence in engineering, it should be winning the event.” I can vouch that that is not true, and I know it is true for many teams who win that award. FIRST is not about winning, it is about growth. And scouting is a large milestone in team growth. We should be encouraging it, not taking the cold shoulder approach of “if you scout good, you should win.” All you are doing with that is discouraging teams.

The other point is that the award would be pay to win, and to that I say, get experienced judges. We do not have engineers judge the safety award, we don’t have people not involved in FIRST judge chairman’s award, just have people who know data analysis judging and the fancy systems wont beat the good ones.


My two cents as a scouting lead:

I, personally, would like a scouting-based award in that it would increase the appreciation for scouts (my team has a good culture surrounding scouting, but I know a lot of other teams don’t).

That said, my concern parallels that of many others (both in this thread and the prior thread) - how is it being judged? What are the criteria for the award?

As a strong proponent of the good ol’ paper + excel scouting system, I echo the concern that the award will only be given based on the system implemented, regardless of accuracy, willingness to scout, and simplicity.

Another concern that I have is on the more practical side - smaller teams with less scouts might not have the time for their scouting leads to talk to a judge, even if the system they have is amazing. Pulling from my experience as scouting lead, time isn’t always plentiful, and I have 20+ people that I can delegate tasks to. With a team of only 7-8, I can’t imagine when they’d be able to talk to a judge.

TL;DR: I like the idea, but I’d want a lot more clarity on implementation.

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I’ll maybe make a second poll below the first, giving a more clear description of the award and how it can be judged.