Championship 2007 - Atlanta - What Needs To Be Improved

I agree with all of this, but the bold part the most. Our team got a crap load of deflated tubes, but not because FIRST handed them out but because my not-so-smart brother jumped over the ledge (at least 8ft drop) right after they announced that people could go down to get them. They didn’t say anything about getting tubes after the matches were done until after the fact (when only the Einstein stairway was open). This was a potential safety hazard for people in the stands. I’m glad to have not seen anyone else jump over the ledge to get down there. I do blame my brother for him jumping and not FIRST, I yelled at him a lot. He was our Safety Captain and worked hard on promoting safety in the pits but he did stupid stuff like jumping over the ledge and not wearing safety glasses on the floor.

I also think that the walk from the stands to the pits has been greatly improved since the last time I was there in 2004. My feet still hurt though, I made several trips from the stands to the playing field in less than 15 minutes without running… that was a chore.

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that I was kicked off of the side of the Archimedes field during eliminations because I was not a member of any teams on the field at that time. However, I had been walking around the ENTIRE stadium taking photos of all teams the entire weekend. It just so happened that I celebrated with members of 107 (“sister team”) when they had made it to the finals. That’s pretty much my only personal complaint…

Then there’s the problem with my FIRST Behind the Design book getting stolen from my seat on Thursday… that wasn’t funny.

I was one of two people running the scoring and field control system on Newton. This is not a limitation of the scoring system, and in fact it’s kind of a pain to zero out an alliance’s score… just DQing all three teams doesn’t do it. I would have liked to post the hypothetical score in the Newton elims, but the head ref demanded that the scoring screen say 0 before it was posted. I understand this reasoning… no sense in causing a bunch of “what ifs” for the teams involved. Sorry it took us so darn long to figure out how to do it.

I would like to see standardized refereeing.
We didn’t find, until we lost the first QF match, that the ref had been measuring our lift from the bottom of our wing and not the lifted robots wheel. Someone took a picture, after the buzzer sounded, and it showed that the robot’s wheel was a good inch above the line but we only got 15 points for the lift. The match would have been tied.
After our alliance captain protested, and all the refs had a meeting, we got 60 points for the next lift.

I liked Sundial when it worked.

I didn’t like the loooooong walk to the arena. My feet are still not talking to me :slight_smile:

All the issues that I would’ve said have already been noted in this thread except for one…

Now, 2047 is just a rookie team and I’m a senior, so this is my first and last year here as student (hopefully becoming a mentor next year). The matches were amazing, we met amazing people, and the whole event made my whole FIRST experience feel like my life was a comic book.

However, we really didn’t enjoy Championships as much as any of the regionals we went to this year. We didn’t see nearly as much team spirit or activity in the Newton stands as much as we did in Milwaukee or Chicago, and it was hard to be motivated when we only knew the 10-ish teams that qualified from the regionals we attended plus the handful of other teams we made personal friendships with.

I’m not sure what can be done about it, it’s just our setup. Between emergencies, scouting, finding parts, ordering food, and two broken vans, and only 20 people on our team, it’s not like we could afford to wander far from where we needed to be. It was a blessing that many of the friends I did make through FIRST had time to come to the pit to talk to me while we were working (I love you, Team C.O.R.E.!).

I dunno, I feel like I would’ve enjoyed this event 100x more if we actually KNEW the other teams. Scouting was hard to do since everyone else was equally bogged down by the goings.

If FIRST could organize some after-Thursday events such as Ultimate Frisbee Competitions, trivia shows, or maybe some video game tournaments, that would allow everyone in their own division to recognize each other. Small little prizes could be given out like t-shirts too.

Sure, ‘socializing’ isn’t as much a concern as the safety issues and overall logistic issues that were posted in this thread earlier, but it would have totally changed my team’s experience at Championships.

(100 secret EXP points to whoever read this all)

For those of you that had seen my earlier public complaints of FIRST, in general, rest assured the battle is still being fought; but in private. This post will not go over any of the items that I consider general FIRST improvements, but rather Championship specific improvements (except for item 1).

  1. Get rid of the algorithm of Doom. For no other reason but what is published in section 9.3.2 in the manual:

9.3.2 Match Assignment
The scoring system will randomly assign each team two ALLIANCE partners for each qualifying match played. All teams will play the same number of qualifying matches except if the number of teams in attendance is not divisible by six; in that case the scoring system will randomly select some teams to play an extra match. For purposes of seeding calculations, those teams will be designated as SURROGATES for the extra match.

Say what you do and do what you say. On that note; before team 217 pays our registration fee for 2008, we will insist that we have reassurance from FIRST, in writing, that the match algorithm is random at all events. It was sad that a first year student on my team could predict the 1st 14 matches on Galileo one week before the event.

  1. Please reduce practice day. One round of practices to make sure the field works properly and each team gets the opportunity to practice once. Also have a “first come - first serve” line that fills the missing teams in practice matches. Start opening ceremonies and qualifying matches on thursday after lunch. Get 2 or 3 rounds of matches in on Thursday. Maybe even do FVC and FRC opening ceremonies at the same time on Thursday. The biggest obstacle to this is inspections. If teams know in advance that they will have matches on Thursday, I bet the majority of teams will give up the extra time to get extra matches. The cost for the Championship is almost $1,000 per match … ouch!

  2. Let operators (with badges) use the stairs going from the field to the floor. Only two people are really required to move the robot from the pits to the dome. The other two can stay out of the way by staying in the stands until the time they need to go to the match. I just want an explanation of “why not” that makes sense (not becasue FIRST said so).

  3. Publish the correct time for the awards ceremony ending. It has finished at the same time for the last few years. The Chairman’s award sure didn’t seem like it was the highest award with its cut down time and anticlimatic ending. Moe deserved more than that as they are a great team and deserve better.

For those of you who said teams had to get to places, please explain to me why the after party had well over 2,000 people at it when we arrrived. My wife and I left right after the announcement was made regarding Chairmans and basically ran to the after party (I had an all access badge so we could get there pretty fast via the short cuts). The party was pretty packed at that time. For reference, the VIP area had 0 people at it when we walked by because they were at the awards ceremonies and stayed until the end.

Yes, that was the case. They were told to be ready to go at about 6:00 because there were teams lining up outside. They eventually were told that they were going to start at 6:15 and had until 6:45 to play. As they were taking the stage, there was a power failure on one half of the stage. While they were fixing this, the hypnotist walked on stage and started doing his sound check (which, by the way was scheduled for prior to 5:30). This put the band about 10-15 minutes behind. They were then told that they had to cut their set to 15 minutes to maintain the schedule. They negotiated to have a 20 minute set. When they finally did start playing, the doors were barely open. As they were about to start their final song, the production crew signaled that time was up and that they had to keep their schedule.

I think that it was wrong to open the doors to the team party before the competition was complete. It was very disrespectful to the teams playing on Einstein as well as the teams that won awards. A “wrap party” should celebrate the conclusion of an event, and not begin before all activities are complete.

That was a my bad…:frowning: … I was given direction to do so, but… I do agree I should have said no and waited until after the Chairmans Award was announced. I did make another announcement asking team to wait but by then the flood gates had opened. My apologies to MOE.

#1 I couldn’t agree more. When a team can be a picking team at the championship with a robot that is just a drive base there is something major wrong with the way matches are selected.

#2 To help with #1 more matches need to be played to give the best robots a chance to shine. Also a stand in line for practice matches is a brilliant idea.

Claimed.

I understand your frustration; it has always been much harder for me to enjoy the Championship. I still prefer regionals. Neglecting hiatus years this is my ninth FRC season, and I’ve been to about twice as many regionals as Championships. I am only now starting to really have a good time at the Championship, and it requires conscious effort to circumvent frustration.

Sorry but who/what exactly is DS&K? Thanks ><

Dean Simmons and the Kamens (http://www.deansimmonsandthekamens.com/) is a robo-centric rock band that has been playing at FIRST events since 2004. They are always welcomed warmly, and were brought in to be the opening band at the team party this year.

I am always impressed by the stature of the judges at the regionals and especially at the Championship. I was very disappointed and I believe it was disrespectable to them, not to have them introduced.

Perhaps this could be incorporated into Sundial somehow where you can scroll through a listing to see who needs what.

I too agree with the leaving of people before the awards completed.

I think FIRST should not have told people they were going to give out tubes. This caused A HUGE rush for the field. And i think the people that rushed the fields were very disrespectful to the teams trying to listen to the rest of the ceremony and the teams that were receiving their trophies at the time.

I know FIRST tried their best with the black wrist bands to make sure teams only had 2 people in the student representative seats…but i still saw a team with 5 students…5!!:ahh:

I agree with Billfred here. 100 teams could be split into 2 divisions of 50 easily(there are already two fields…so ONE field per division, like FRC, wouldn’t be that bad.). Since teams only got 4 matches, as Billfred mentioned, teams with one loss (like 1114*) would plummet in rankings, killing their chances to get picked due to lack of scouting (something that should be fiixed). However this wasn’t the case for the 3-1-0 team 1114 who still was picked, but the 4-0-0 (with 2 replays and wins of the same match coming to a 6-0-0) team 1712 was NOT picked… something I still don’t understand. Splitting the field into 2 divisions would give teams more matches, and really make the teams that perform stand out.

If divisions isn’t the way to go, then have both fields play at once! Alternating fields draws attention to one game at once, but also cuts the amount of matches each team gets.

And if that idea isn’t liked, then follow the FRC route, start earlier and play for 3 days. I think that most vex teams weren’t watching the FRC championships, so where were they then? The social! If they were to continue playing at the same time as FRC then the whole keep EVERYONE at the dome till matches and awards are done would be easily done.

  • I do not mean to be hostile towards fvc1114, you guys and gals have a great team and deserved the win.

CONGRADULATIONS MOE!!!

I say this on behalf of all of Team 2228 because unfortunally we were one of the teams that had to leave early. You guys know how much we love MOE. I know you believe me when I say we were excited for you when we found out at the train station that you guys won. Congratulations again, we couldn’t be happier for team MOE. :smiley: :smiley:

Just a note on us having to leave early. We planned our trip according to the FIRST schedule. We knew our departure was going to cut it close but we thought we would be able to see it all. As I’ve read from other posts, the finals run long every year. If so, I think it should reflect in the schedule so if possible, teams can plan accordingly. We left our seats in front of Galileo during one of the dancing intermissions and tried to do so as quickly and quietly as possible. My apology’s if we were too noisy or in the way.

Just some things I as a first time attendee think can be improved.

*MORE QUALIFICAION MATCHES
One of the things my team discussed on the way back home was the price vs game time. Going to Championships is an enormous amount to only play 7 qualification matches. With more and more regionals being added, this number is only going to get lower. We are considering limiting the number of times we go to once every four years max, regardless of weather we qualify or not. Even just 3 more qualification matches could justify this price tag a bit more. There are two ways I can see to increase the number of matches.

One is to add a fifth field. I think it would be great if the side seats were taken advantage of by adding a field on the side opposite the pit entrance. If that makes sense to anyone. From what I saw, there should be enough space to fit another field. The other limitation would be volunteer and tech personal, to which supply I cannot speak to.

The other would be to extend the competition into Wednesday. Maybe change weds morn to uncrating, weds afternoon to working and practice matches, Thursday morning more practice, Thursday aft to sat morning qualification rounds. Even though this would drive the price tag up, I think it would make Championships a much more wholesome and cost worthy experience.

*GRACIOUS PROFESSIONALISM
Although FIRST cannot do anything about these issue’s, I think they need to be brought up anyways. One lack of GP occurred on Friday morning. On Thursday, our team got to the dome early and got front row seats to Galileo right next to the pit entrance. On Friday we got the dome even earlier hoping to get the same seats. When we got there on Friday the dome staff had it roped off because of leaking water. We dealt with this by sending most of the team to sit on the other side of the pit entrance and leaving some members at the top of the stairs with the official so that we could get those seats then send the rest of the team over. What happened was a team jumped the caution tape, sat down, and then when told by the dome staff that they had to move, blatantly refused. From what I heard (at this point I was in the pits getting ready for qual rounds) the dome staff was yelling at this team demanding that they move, and this team completely ignored them. Not only is this unfair to teams that listened to the officials, it gives a bad impression to the entire dome staff about the type of people who compete in FIRST Robotics. In the end this worked out best for us because we were able to cheer for other teams much more effectively (giving everyone high fives as they walk out is awesome) even if our view of our field was pretty bad.

Another occurrence might not necessarily be a lack of GP, but we kind of expected from what we have heard from other teams, and from what we have experienced with other teams. Twice during the competition our bot ended up with our wheels in the air, not by our own actions. Both times neither team talked to us. In practice rounds, when our forklifts fell off while playing defense against 191 (completely our fault), they came right over after the match and said, ‘did you caught in something? can it be fixed? is there a way we can help?’ I don’t expect this from a team every time something goes wrong, but when our bot is disabled, it would be nice to at least get a, ‘hey guys, our bad.’

I don’t want to make it sound like I’m whining, but from I had been told to expect from FIRST teams, especially low number FIRST teams, this is below the bar of expectations.

*PENALTY CONSISTANCEY
I know the refs are hard working people and I appreciate all they do, and this has been addressed already so all I’ll say is that it is extremely disheartening to get tipped and have no penalty called, and then seeing later a disqualification right away on Einstein for the same thing.

Overall it was a great experience but I think with some changes that it can be much better.

FVC needs to be a three-day event next year! With the rate at which the FIRST Vex Challenge has been growing, and with the relative small number of four qualification rounds for each competing team, adding another day (Saturday) onto the FVC competition is a much needed and deserved addition to the Championships.

Parking price reduction. Not sure how. But I had some friends in the ATL area (within an hour away) that were turned off by coming to simply watch the event because of parking prices. I think that offering some kind of compensation would increase outside spectator participation.
FIRST cannot change the price the venue sets for parking, unless FIRST decides to cover the parking costs themselves. If you would like to save money on parking, go to one of the MARTA stations in the Atlanta suburbs with free parking, and take the train into downtown Atlanta, which is only $1.75 per ride.

Just like during any other sporting event, the event sponsors pay many of the bills and rightfully deserve commercial time as one of their perks for sponsoring the event. :wink:

Some things here reflect our experiences at regional events, but echo some of what others have been saying about Atlanta, as well.

  • I’d like to see a bit more consideration given to the pit layout. There were gigantic aisles between divisions and very narrow aisles within them. A column sat in the middle of the aisle in front of our pit, making it very difficult to get around. Perhaps it’d be possible to have “robot lanes,” that people can avoid so your ankles aren’t destroyed by overzealous kids with a heavy robot cart.
  • Leave the practice fields within the pits assembled and open to teams until elimination rounds begin! In both Portland and Atlanta, we would have liked to give our alliance partners some practice climbing our lifts and had difficulty doing so because the practice field was disassembled.
  • If the field is running ahead of schedule, STOP. There is no way for teams to know that the event is ahead of schedule and by running through matches so quickly, we’re receiving even less of the precious time we need to repair and maintain the robots.
  • The kids on our team would’ve liked the opportunity to spend some more time speaking with the judges. They felt that a single, short visit by one judge didn’t give them enough chance to explain what they loved about their experiences and were upset that no others came by.
  • In the future, can all teams avoid the destruction of entire Amazonian rainforests or something by printing about ten thousand fewer flyers reminding me to wear safety glasses?
  • Carpet the major passageways within the pit, at the very least, if not the whole thing. Trade shows can manage it, so let’s do the same. It’d make things a bit easier on everyone’s feet and the aesthetic of the entire pit will improve dramatically. Make it seem like we’re supposed to be there – not that someone left a loading dock unlocked overnight and we snuck in.
  • Place signs at the end of each aisle within the pit that list the range of team numbers represented. Instead of what you’d see in the supermarket – cereal, cookies, soda – it’d show, “Teams 503-353”.
  • The Galileo ranking information did not update at all between the start of lunch and nearly the end of the day, Friday. This is not so good for team morale (or scouting) when you’ve lost the matches that are displayed and won all of the rest.
  • Navigating the hierarchy of volunteers and staff at the event can be baffling and waste enormous amounts of time. FIRST ought to consider having a ‘team advocate’ or similar available that is intimately familiar with the staff and volunteer positions and responsibilities at the event and can help teams with some of the more challenging problems and questions that sometimes come up during the event.
  • Some folks need to remember that, despite all of the money spent and the hours worked, this is just a game
    and chill out a little bit. I left the event with a far lesser opinion of some teams and individuals than I had upon arrival. I should not have to make excuses for other teams’ behavior while interacting with my team members.

I think these are small things, all considered, and the event is run well. It’s just not… exciting. This is the second year that we’ve had members that felt like the Championship is less fun and less worthwhile than the regional events.

There needs to be more things to do after the competition is over for the day, more places to eat, other than Papa John’s, and better weather too…lol…there are also alot of little things that are wrong with Atlanta itself, like trans. and sanitation…

I agree with everyone about the consistency of ref calls. While I was only on Galileo, I noticed inconsistency on not only the same calls within the matches we competed, but in the other matches on the field, and even from many of the divisions to einstein.

I would also like to appoligize for 229’s early departure from the competition, but like 2228 we had to catch a train (the same train) to come all the way up the coast to get back home. It would have made what turned out, because of weather and other issues, to be a longer than expected ride twice as long.

And I appoligize if any of this has been said already by another member of our team.

-Alex (Coach)