Concerned Parent, 10 days to Chairman's submission

In my opinion, I would always prepare the submission using the resources provided in this thread. If it is not finished on time, or too rushed to get to submission time, simply don’t submit. But I would always advocate to have a complete, revised, proud essay and summaries every year. If nothing else, they will help for the following year, and will help the team understand their impact on the community.

There are good reasons to submit a Chairman’s Award Presentation even when you know there are teams that have done more in the offseason and are more deserving of the title.

First of all, preparing for CA is no different from preparing for any major project presentation, thesis defence or other big-deal-dog-and-pony-show. Robots aren’t the only skill to be gained through FRC, and the chance to present to a sympathetic panel of judges who can offer you meaningful feedback is a great way to prepare for future presentations.

Secondly, just because you might not be in a position to win CA this year, doesn’t mean that the work you do this year is for naught. It gets passed on to the team year after year and can be part of the foundation for a stronger CA presentation in future years.

Third, just because another team may have done more than you doesn’t mean that your team’s accomplishments are not worth documenting and celebrating. You rarely hear a scientist state, “Nah. It’s not going to win a Nobel, so I’m not going to bother writing it up.” A team should work towards a CA because it is a good thing to do, rather than because it is a cool award to win.

Finally… and somewhat more practical than those altruistic suggestions… judges talk to each other. An RCA presentation buys you five additional minutes of judge time to talk about the cool stuff your team has done. There is a very good chance the RCA judges will be in the same room as all the other judges when awards are being discussed, and they are welcome to add in, “Did you ask team xxxx about their yyyyyy? Because when they talked about it in their presentation it sounded really cool.”

It sounds like your daughter is in an ideal position to gain some experience, lead a significant team and build towards future team opportunities. The pressure is off… being given this task with ten days to go means that there is very little expectation of actually winning the award this year. (Not so much because of the timeline to prepare, but because teams who win RCA have been thinking about it and building towards it for the past couple years.) There is value in preparing a professional presentation that goes beyond a nice shiny trophy and a chance to advance to Championships. This is an opportunity… not to win, but to learn and grow… seize it!


P.S. This advice is based on my experience as a mentor, where we never lost the RCA. Well, we never won it, either, but I never felt like we had lost when there were clearly teams more deserving than us any more than I felt like we had “lost” if we failed to win the Championship. (I will say, however, we won at least one FRC award every year we made a CA presentation… and at least once I’m pretty sure the award had a link to our presentation.) It is also based on my more recent experience as an RCA judge. We were always happy to hear a well prepared presentation from a team that had done interesting and valuable work in the off-season. It was a particular joy for me to see a team that gave a well-intentioned but weak presentation one year, come back to win the award two years later. What was truly delightful was the joy on the face of the young woman who had led their CA team for three years when her team’s sustained efforts in the off season and in their community were finally formally recognized. Your daughter may have a journey ahead of her… or be setting the direction for someone to follow.

Advice from Team 1676: Start by making a list of your achievements your team is most proud of along with your goals/how you are going to continue these projects in the future. Submissions are definitely a team effort, so any help you can get will help. I suggest reaching out to another team who has a strong awards program, or reading past award-winning essays that can be found online. If you need any help, please feel to reach out to me. My email is [email protected] and I am the Management, Outreach, and Design Division Co-leader for the Pascack Pi-oneers. I assist writing award submissions as well as making our Chairman’s video, and our team would be happy to help. Good luck!

Refer to this:

Our team is already preparing for 2019’s Chairman submission. We started working on 2018’s in earnest last September.

The team that Girmann’s daughter is on will not win Chairman’s this year, that’s pretty much a given. But it could be a great experience to go through the actual process of submitting an essay and executive summary, preparing a presentation and binder. I’d skip the video this year.

If they don’t have a first presentation, they have nothing to iterate on for next year. If she goes into it taking it seriously and as a learning experience she will be well prepared for next year.

The judges aren’t the same year to year, so you can rely heavily on the previous year’s submittal. Given the late date, don’t try to do too much to get it updated for this year. However, once build season is over, your team should assemble a group to develop a plan for next year. The teams that win the award start at the beginning of the school year or even earlier.

The most important thing for your child to understand, what has the team done to be worthy of receiving the chairman’s award? The most flawlessly written essay and professionally produced video cannot overcome the lack of tangible actions that the team has done to deserve chairman’s recognition. These actions need to be clearly and efficiently communicated during the interview. Looking good on paper is easy compared to being able to back those words up in real life and with a short time limit.