Awards and Rookie All Star

A couple friends and I are starting a 2018 rookie team, and while we’ve gotten a start on team management and technical skills during the offseason, we’re still not completely sure what happens with regards to judging and such at regional events. Could anyone provide any experiences or advice related to judging that they have? And I know it’s two different topics, but if anyone has participated in FLL are the judging setups similar? (we’re coming from FLL, so that’s our reference point:] )
And also since I haven’t found a thread specifically about Rookie All Star, what do you “have to do” to be eligible? Are there interviews, or is it just observation and judgement on the judges’ side?

Thank you!

Judging setups aren’t similar to FLL, that I’m aware of.

FLL: Team brings robot/presentation to judging area.
FRC: Judges come to team pit. Team has handouts, prepared students, displays, or “deer-in-the-headlight” students. Depends on the team what they actually have…

Just to get it out of the way, all you really need to do to be eligible for RAS is to be a rookie team at the event. But be advised that the judges don’t have to award RAS at all. No All-Star rookie teams, no RAS (doesn’t happen often).

Now, the real meat of the response.
–Judging setup in FRC is that on Friday and Saturday, a bunch of people in blue polo shirts will walk around in pairs or sit watching matches. Those are the judges. They’ll walk up to your pit and ask questions about the team, the robot, and anything else that may fall under the scope of the awards they’re judging. You won’t know which awards they’re judging for, but you might be able to tell if they’re technical or non-technical by the questions.

*Do NOT Ignore the Judges. *(Great way to get left out of consideration for an award, ignoring the judges is.)

–Awards criteria will be somewhere in the Manual or on the FIRST site (where you get the Manual). I don’t recall exactly where it was last year. You’ll want to find that and read it–last year’s will do, the awards section doesn’t change that much.

6101 won a rookie all-star award at one of our districts in 2016. What the judges are mostly looking for are indications that your team will grow into a successful team in the future. To do this, have all of your paper work in order, be ready to talk about any leads on sponsorships, try to have a technical mentor present, and (most importantly) be ready to talk about what your team has learned and the improvements you planning on making in the future. Know what kinds of questions the judges typically ask, and be prepared to answer them.

I did a few years of FLL, and this is my 3rd year of FRC.

The judging styles are really different. Throughout FLL, it was always that the students went to the judges, in all categories. From robot design, to the presentation, it wasn’t as intense. FRC is the opposite. Judges instead not only watch matches, they watch pits, stands, and often like coming up to students to ask questions. Our team usually has everyone whose in the pit knowledgeable about every part of the team, or at least one person who knows it really well. Questions that you wouldn’t expect to get asked about in the pit(Which is mostly about the robot), like about outreach or the operations focused part of the team, usually get asked.

I think someone mentioned this before me, don’t ignore judges. Well, just don’t ignore people coming up and asking questions in general. While judges usually have a blue polo, or some indication that they are judges, my team treated anyone who came up and talked to us as if they could be deciding if we got an award or not. It works.

I’m not sure how much help this was. SPORK did win RAS it’s first year, but that’s way before I was a part of the team, and the rules might be different now.

For any other part of it, please reach out to me. Transferring from FLL to FRC confused me my rookie year, and without help, I probably wouldn’t of gotten it all.

This was sort of touched on but as an experienced FLL Judge and a current FRC student, I would like to highlight the following:

In FLL, all teams are automatically considered for all awards. Every team goes to the same judging sessions and they are all given the same amount of consideration in the deliberation process.

In FRC, teams who want to be considered for certain awards (Chairman’s, etc.) must submit an application before the event. When it comes to the other awards (the ones for which you are not required to submit anything), judges seek out certain teams. To can the Innovation in Control award, for example, your control systems must stand out to the judges observing matches.

Well, for starters you are on the right track as you are searching out information and working to get better. It will also help that your team has roots in other FIRST organizations - this shows the judges that there is a pattern of success/continuity.

Things can vary if you are competing in a District Event vs a Regional. I will be discussing the Regional variation.

You need to be aware that here are three awards that a rookie team can receive at a FRC competition; Highest Rookie Seed, Rookie Inspiration, And Rookie All-Star. As long as there is a rookie competing at an event, the first will be awarded and most likely the second will as well. However, the third, and most prestigious, does not have to be awarded at an event.

Case in point, look to 2017 10,000 Lakes Regional and then compare that to the regional across the street, [2017 North Star Regional](2017 North Star Regional). It is up to the Judges Advisor or the entire Judges team to make the decision on if it will be awarded.

So what does it take to be a Rookie All-Star? Some look at is as a the rookie Chairman’s award, or at best, the team that best exemplifies a future Chairman’s team. Here is a list that can get you started:

Student members need to be prepared to engage the judges as they come by - and there is no knowing when they are looking to talk to your team at your pit, so be prepared at all times.

Documentation helps tremendously. Get a 3-ring binder and start archiving all that your team is doing. Everything goes in (think of it as an engineering notebook on steroids). This should include a list of sponsors, bill of material, team roster, team expenses, etc. It should include a five year plan. You need to have a business model prepared.

Strong mentor involvement is also key. Getting parents, local experts, and teachers involved is highly recommended. These people should also be helping to guide the team throughout the off-season (now), the build season, and at competition. They shouldn’t necessarily talk to the judges, but they are beneficial to running a smooth pit.

Marketing and Branding is another area that strengthens your chances at winning RAS. Get a clean and crisp logo and mark everything with it. Keep this uniform throughout the team. Make buttons and other flair that you can hand out to any and all passerbys. We go through about 500-1000 buttons per event.

Create partnerships and find sponsors. Then put them on your robot, your tee shirts, and anything else. Strong sponsors and partnerships are key to your team’s success long term.

Local Recognition. Start getting your team into the local newspaper - it also helps if you can get your local beat-writer to the event you are competing in (by chance ours actually talked to the judges at our event). Get your team out into the community for outreach events such as business fairs, etc.

Develop a website for your team as well as FB, Twitter, etc. Judges look at these.

Create a healthy Safety Culture. Not just a safety binder, but getting your team into proper safety practices goes a long way. The UL safety advisors will rub elbows with the judges. If your team gains a reputation for not wearing safety glasses, then your chances will diminish greatly. Have a battery kit on hand to dispose of

Adopt the ideals of Gracious Professionalism in the pit, on the field, and around the stadium. GP starts in your shop and classrooms and extends into all aspects of the team and community. If judges see this, they will take notice. If your team develops bad habits, this will be noticed.

Create an organized pit. Not only will the judges notice, but so will other teams, parents, and the general public. Be realistic and work within your budget. We had old tools, borrowed/secondhand cabinets that we utilized to best fit our needs. Clean up the pit whenever the robot leaves for a match. And make certain to leave an organized pit at the end of each day. Judges will notices this.

**Ask for help **when you need it. Your team will only get better as you network, and other teams love helping those in need - especially rookies. If you do gain a part from another team, make certain to write their team number on it and let the judges know that they helped you.

If you team has the time, create and submit a** Chairman’s Proposal**. You cannot present, but getting in the practice of submitting for CA not only helps your team develop, but it puts your team number and name front line with the judges. Yes they do look at this.

Most importantly, have fun. Good, clean fun. Everyone loves the ‘rookie team exuberance’. Make friends with the pits around you and start to interact with them. This good clean fun develops into your team’s culture, so make certain to hone it properly.

Good luck, I will be cheering you on from Minnesota!

I agree with all but the point highlighted above. It is my rule that when a judge shows up the mentors leave unless there is some critical repair/trouble shooting that the students need help with.

It is my feeling that a mentor’s interaction with the judges should pretty much be limited to thanking them for volunteering.

Another important thing is to only talk about what you know, do not make things up or say what ever. If they are for example asking questions about programing and you don’t know anything about programming say. “I’ve focused on _________ this season, let me get you one of our programmers who will know the answer.” Then of course make sure a programmer is found quickly.

We had a very successful rookie season in 2014. We had some wonderful help from an alumni of 1241 who had done a fair share of Chairman’s and awards presentations. She coached our “awards team” - at least 1 of who were ALWAYS in our pit, even during our own games. They had a good knowledge of the robot and the (small) amount of outreach we had started. They were good at talking on their feet, and it helped that the mentor had herself been a student in the pit for many years, being asked the same questions that kids do. If possible, it would be a huge resource to have a mentor who has done FRC before (ideally as a student) and has talked to many judges.

We won Rookie All Star at the St. Louis championship last year. A few things we did:

  1. Students did all the talking, aside from some financial details which we directed to our head mentor.
  2. Printed out packets of information about the team & our outreach. Each judge got their own, individual copy.
  3. We showed off our sponsors by hanging 3 rows of logos stretching across one side of our 10’ pit. The logos were on standard printer paper. We had a lot of local businesses as sponsors.
  4. We practiced talking through it beforehand.
  5. Someone was always at the pit.
  6. We had a pi 3 running a monitor which was displaying photos of various outreach events / work days / competitions.
  7. We had another pi 3 running a monitor which was displaying our match results, which we could discuss with the judges.

…probably some stuff I’m missing too. I was the drive team captain & programmer, so let’s just say I was a little busy.

IIRC, the outreach projects we did / had planned were the best part. We had one which was originally supposed to take place during champs, but then we qualified for champs during Seven Rivers.

5980 won Rookie Allstar at: lakeview in 2015 and rookie inspiration at St. Louis Carver

If you would like to chat with our team and learn a bit more you can email us at [email protected]

Just drop Rookie Allstar in the subject and we will know what to do! Good luck this year!

To break down the awards description, the FIRST website describes the Rookie All Star Award as:

Celebrates the rookie team exemplifying a young
but strong partnership effort, as well as
implementing the mission of FIRST to inspire
students to learn more about science and
technology.

Let’s take a look.

rookie team

The team must be a Rookie. Duh. You either are or you’re not!

strong partnership effort

In FIRST speak, “partnership” means “sponsors”, including a school should a team be connected to one. So in the judging process, make sure to talk about the ways that your team has worked positively with your sponsors to have an impact on your community.

implementing the mission of FIRST

This isn’t cut and dry one thing, but in general you can take this to mean that you should prepare your students for work in STEM careers and inspire innovation, as well as build “soft skills” - communication, leadership, etc.

to inspire students to learn more about science and technology.

Again, this is about how you’ve been able to inspire your students to become more involved in STEM. Have you put into place trainings? Have your students gone into the community for STEM-based outreach? Can you show that your students have changed their interests toward STEM?

It’s not cut and dry, but in one sentence:

The RAS goes to the team who has worked with sponsors to inspire STEM.