Award pointers for a new team.

Hello, I am a member of FRC team 6860, from Paterson NJ. During our first year(2018) my team and I were able to accomplish achievements that were beyond our expectation. However, for our second year, my team and I want to challenge ourselves. Some of the things we would like to accomplish are receiving a chairman award, an Engineering award, and or also receive an Entupanurship award. This may be a long shot for a team like my one, but I was hoping you guys would give a few pointers on how to receive these awards. Thank you!

HI glad to hear you will be pushing yourself. First off if you are a small team I would just shoot for one of the awards. You can find info for each by google “frc awards”. Winning a chairmans is extremely difficult. You almost have to cure cancer and start 37 more FIRST teams and it all has to be done in a different country. But it doesn’t hurt to try. Also there is good info in the white papers on this site . And I have some info on a Google drive. I can share with you if you PM me.

Good luck.

As Snoman said, the first thing to getting these awards is to review the FIRST rubrics well before build season - these awards don’t change much from year to year. Then, get the team as a whole to work towards the criteria, and have a handful of people actively writing it down as it happens. Finally, have an english major or english teacher or three read the rubrics and edit the write up.

On a more immediate level, make sure that your “beyond expectation” accomplishments are recognized at the team level. This can be accomplished through an internal awards ceremony or a big pep talk at a whole team meeting or two - what works best is likely team dependent, but make sure that this is somehow celebrated by the team in such a way as to encourage even greater efforts in future years.

For the awards, check out what other teams have done: for example, I recently posted a thread here asking about the innovation in control award and got some good answers. Also, check out this page from Spectrum 3847, they have a great compendium of resources on everything from scouting to awards and pit design and technical stuff.

1538 The Holy Cows (a HoF team) has great branding and team management resources:

google ‘FRC business plans’ , look on the resources page of as many high-powered team websites as you can, and strive for technical excellence in everything you do.

Congrats on your accomplishments this season!

Here is a link to all the award descriptions. Your team, especially those in the pit, should be familiar with the awards criteria and should be able to articulate how your team fits them when conversing with judges.

Here is a link to winning chairman’s submissions from Hall of Fame teams. This link contains the submissions from 2018 regional and district championship chairman’s award winners.

Uhh I just commented this in the Innovation in Controls Award thread, but Daphne is totally right!!! Think about what you make your team unique and what you want to share with the judges at competition. Genuine passion and strong articulations of what you care about your team shine through, that’s one of the best things FIRST has done.

The advice I would like to give you is that the chairmans award is a very unique award (same goes for the Engineering Inspiration). The statements made previously about that you have to do crazy amounts of work, in impossible situations is compleatly untrue in my opinion.
The most important fact ,in my opinion, is that you don’t try to win chairmans. Everything HoF team who won chairmans did so because the believed in their cause. They wanted to make change happen, and in doing so they were awarded with a chairmans award.
If you are going to set up programs for the sake of winning chairmans then I would advise you to stop with those programs (Speaking from personal experience). Find something that you and your team stands for and build on that. Start small but dream big. Build your outreach, feel good about the change and impact your making and let the awards be an added bonus.

Feel free to reach out to me of you would like some more information or do a brainstorm.

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  1. Be organized. Record every event, how many people you had, how many people came through, how many hours were spent.
  2. Bigger. Not more. It’s pretty easy to do every community event like soup kitchens volunteering and parades. But you’ll quickly fill your entire schedule and you still won’t be doing enough. Follow the “go up a level” rule. You want to be in a parade? Stop. Look up every parade in the state, find teams local to each parade, and then work to start getting local teams in every parade. Go up a level. Don’t stay local.
  3. Be organized. When you get to competition, have a logical presentation order for the pits when the judges show up. Books are good. Videos for complex ideas like design are better. Part displays that actually function are best.
  4. Have a future. Have one. Demand to have one. Develop plans for when your funding disappears. When your build space disappears. Actually have REAL plans. Not “we’re going to go live in someone’s barn”. Get companies to pledge build space and “emergency” funding for a year.

Really that’s all these awards are. Figure out your version of each one of the aspects of the team, then take it up a level. Or ten. “Level Up…”

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Great questions!

I highly recommend reading The Compass Allince Pathway on Awards. Lots of great information there:

More Pathways can be found here:

Hope this helps! Best of luck.


Here are more chairman’s award resources from FIRST.
Here are some judging tips.
Here is 125’s “How to Win More Awards” presentation slideshow.

Beat you by 2 hours :stuck_out_tongue:

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Work to change your community. If you are involved with your school, develop curriculum that increases stem literacy and create career development resources for students. Expanding FIRST’s mission is also very important. Create a encompassing program that is more than just a single team. Help other teams in your area get started. Be the team that works within their community but also organizes others to work within theirs like what Tom said. Make a change! Inspire! Promote! And then once all that is done think bigger and bolder because there is a lot one team can do within their county state and nation. THAT is how you set yourself apart from others.

Check out some of these essays (especially your local team’s) becaue it will help you gauge what other teams are doing. Don’t 100% copy, but you can take from other teams what they have done and apply it to your greater community in an impactful way. Think out of the box. The chairman’s award isn’t won by doing what someone else has already done but doing that plus MORE.

This is such an important point for Chairman’s. You don’t win Chairman’s just by trying - you can spend all the time in the world on your essay and short answers, practice your presentation until you can do it in your sleep and it won’t matter if your team goals, culture, and impact aren’t meaningful.

For all the awards, it’s best to go look at the criteria for each award. While that criteria defines the award, when you combine the criteria from all the awards it defines an ideal FRC team. Don’t focus on the awards, focus on what you want your team to be. Once you’ve figured that out, you can start looking at how the awards fit into your team.

Take a lesson from my team. For many years, we jumped at every outreach opportunity we found, and put in effort to submit for Chairman’s every year. And each year we didn’t win. A couple of years ago, we got some really good advise from someone that listened to our presentation. She said, “It’s clear you guys do a lot, but who are you? What’s your purpose? What makes you unique when compared to the other teams submitting?” So we sat down as a team and worked on our team identity, which can be summed up by our current mission statement (The team is all-girls, from an all-girls school):

To inspire girls of all ages to incorporate STEM in their lives and to revolutionize the perception of women in STEM.

We sit down as a team in the fall to talk about our mission statement, about our team identity and our core values. We try to do it away from the build space, on a Saturday when we can spend a whole day going over it. It’s an important exercise, because the rookie members don’t already know, and even the veteran members need to be reminded what we should be focusing on.

Based on that identity, we stopped doing every outreach event we could find. We actually turned opportunities down, directing them to other area teams. We started to focus our outreach on our identity. By no longer pursuing random events that don’t relate to us, it gave us the opportunity to design events that do. Instead of walking into the Chairman’s room and saying “look at all the random stuff we’ve done”, we could say “We’re working to have a specific impact on the community, one designed to change the culture and conversation in an unique way, and here’s how we’ve done it”. Looking back, it’s really not that surprising that we won Chairman’s for the first time this year, after so many other years worth of effort.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t apply for Chairman’s early and often, though! It’ll likely take several years to build your program up enough to the point where you really know your identity and have a significant impact on your community, but applying for Chairman’s can help you analyze your own team as you go, to see where your strengths and weakness are so you can improve each year.

Congratulations on your Rookie Inspiration Award!
So much good information from great people in these responses, including.

I believe team culture is the most important thing when it comes to awards. No matter how much you do, if your kids don’t know why they do what they do and what that impact means to the team and to them personally, it will not be communicated well to the judges.

Starting as a young team, I think it is great that you can start early to establish a team respect for both the robot and awards aspects of the competition.

Like others, I recommend you identify what kind of team you want to be, look at who is accomplishing those goals, and contact teams that have developed good processes to achieve those goals.

We started submitting for Chairman’s our second year, it took a while to earn a regional award. Some teams have earned an RCA in their 2nd year. The process helps us document what we are doing and plan for the next year; each year we build on that. We also submit for the Entrepreneurship Award, this is a great way to document how you approach the business side of your team - which will help you to be more deliberate about planning and executing for your team’s needs and strengthen your team’s sustainability.

A few things I think have been critical to the success of our team is

  • Developing a culture whereby there is a respect for both the robot and business sides of the team by both the mentors and students.
  • Like many teams we showed up everywhere we could to demo a robot in the beginning. It’s a great way to get in front of your community, make an impact, and for your students to learn how to talk about their team and FIRST. This has also helped us to build enduring relationships with numerous organizations and learn how we can help our community. After a while, you will probably need to be more discerning about your outreach time, just because it gets to be a lot, but it’s a good place to start and a good way to learn about the needs in your community.
  • Like the Robettes, we meet every year to talk about who we are and where are going as a team. In fact, at our annual Strategic Planning meeting is this Saturday, we will be talking about our team values and goals. We also meet as quickly as possible after build season and events to talk open and honestly about our experiences - good and bad. These two practices have helped us to build on the good and recalculate as needed while everything is still fresh on our minds.
  • Dedicated mentors and student leads to support business & awards efforts, shows everyone that these are priorities to the team.
  • Overall, I think planning, researching, more planning, documenting and then both be able to stay focused and be open to redirecting as needed, have helped us to strengthen all aspects of our team.

Here are a few recommendations though…

  • Develop relationships with FIRST teams at all levels.
  • Gain good understanding and appreciation of FIRST Community and the goals and culture of FIRST
  • Understand your students, team, sponsors, and community needs and goals – and how you can help each
  • Check out last year’s submission guidelines (they don’t tend to change much year to year)
  • Document everything you do – pictures, video, facts, numbers, quotes of impact
  • Think outside the box
  • Develop a website and create a social media presence, these will help with documenting and building relationships (I realize some teams are limited by school regulations)
  • Make a plan
  • Have fun, laugh, laugh some more, and enjoy it all.

We address finding your niche in our Big Bacon Theory of Image and Marketing presentation and we have documented our Chairman’s approach in a PowerPoint - both of these are available under the resources tab on our website.

Please feel free to DM me or reach out to our team through our website or social media, if you have any questions.
Have fun and go for it!

I would like to add that the Chairman’s Award is totally within reach and doable. I don’t like to see teams discouraged from attempting the Chairman’s Award in this way. There are SEVERAL Hall of Fame teams that have done little to no outreach internationally (us included). All of our work, for example, is focused entirely within our state borders and focuses primarily on FLL and STEM, not FRC. Every single team in FRC should be submitting for a Chairman’s Award. You’d be surprised at how much just going through the submission process actually helps push your team further and forces you to get organized and focus in on your purpose. It may take a few years of submitting before you reap the benefits of your efforts (very few teams earn the Chairman’s Award on their first try), but if you don’t start submitting, it won’t happen at all.

So, in short, my advice is to go for it! But, one thing all Chairman’s Award winners have in common is focus. They focus on making a difference in a specific community or area. Some teams focus on making FIRST more accessible to disabled or minorities. Some focus on their state or community and increasing opportunities. Some focus on political action. Others yet focus on education in under-served or impoverished areas. Ours was the educational opportunities in West Virginia, and trying to improve those through FIRST and STEM programs like FLL, not accomplishing it on our own, but bringing in partners like NASA to work together towards that mission and goal. Figure out what YOUR purpose is and make that difference. And the easiest way to figure that out is to start submitting for Chairman’s. When you’re writing that essay and presentation, over the next couple years, you will figure it out, you will improve, and you can get there.

But don’t, and I can’t stress this enough, don’t do it for the sake of the award. Use the award as a tool to help you figure out your purpose and organize your efforts, but don’t let it become a driving purpose in and of itself.

These are all such GREAT points! Especially the second one. You will get to a point where you’re bombarded with event requests, and you simply can’t do it all. Pick the ones that will reap the most benefits. It sounds harsh to say it that way, but pick the ones that will give you visibility and networking opportunities, the ones where you an interact directly with kids and the change-makers in your community. MARS hit this point three or four years ago when we had to start making decisions on which outreach events we would do. We had to start thinking about WHY we were doing them, and which ones would help us achieve our mission and vision statements vs. which ones were fun and helpful, but didn’t fit in with that vision.

And yes, thing BIG. Think far into the future. Don’t just think 1-2 years from now. Think about what your vision is for 20-30 years from now. What will your community/state/country look like? How are you going to ensure your program will still be around then, and what differences are you going to see that far in the future?