Dean's List Winner

What do you think makes a candidate deserve of winning this award? Any specific things that are looked for by the judges?

If the candidate has effectively changed the team for the better in no way any other student on the team has, then that person should be the Dean’s List winner for the team. If a candidate has effectively changed FIRST and the FIRST community, then that person should be the overall Dean’s list winner. Of the world.

I think that the winner should be determined by the award criteria for the Dean’s List candidates posted on the FIRST website. The student should be selected based on that criteria alone. That is the criteria that teams have used to nominate their candidates and therefore should be judged on that criteria. By deviating from this criteria could affect the integrity of the award.

Our team took great care in nominating the most deserving students on our team for the award and we would hope that it would be judged with the same care as we put into selecting ours.

–Andrew Spiece
Team Leader, Truck Town Thunder, FIRST Team 68

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I could go on a long rant about this, but i’ll try not to.

The Dean’s list winner is the individual who most recognizes, practices, and preaches FIRST and FRC’s ideals. The Dean’s List winner recognizes FRC as the competitive sport it is, practices gracious professionalism and coopertition, spreads the notion of FRC being a Varsity Sport of the Mind to the team, school, and community, takes it upon him or herself to spread the message of FIRST in the community, inspiring his or own peers to strive to be the best and to respect the STEM fields, and doing whatever s/he can to improve his/her team.

The Dean’s List winner, in my opinion, should be VERY ACTIVE in FRC. As an FRC member, they should be a leader and an inspiration figure the team looks at. This team member should be phenomenal, always willing to work and do their best to win, always completing his/her tasks, and inspiring fellow team members to strive for the best.

As a representative of FIRST, the Dean’s List winner, in my opinion, not only engage in outreach events, but should also have a story where FIRST and STEM affected his/her life. They should always attempt to bring respect to STEM and change the culture of their peers and the community.

FIRST is about changing the culture. FRC is a mechanism to change the culture; one that provides a STEM Varsity Sport. The Dean’s List winner has to know what the two are, and as such, represent both in the best way possible.


Remember what FRC and FIRST are. There is a difference between the ideals of them and that difference is what makes the Dean’s List award so unique. Some teams nominate individuals who do NOT make a significant contribution to the FRC team and do not see FRC as a sport, even if they see FIRST’s message. Likewise, some teams nominate individuals who only know FRC and not the parent program FIRST. It has upset me that there are individuals like this who are nominated on teams rather than one that is really what the Dean’s List judge panel is looking for.


Very excellent explanation.

Impact. Positive impact.
Capable of bringing about change through that impact.
Extraordinary commitment to the team and to the FIRST ethos.

I know a few people like that. :slight_smile: They have been very deserving of this recognition and they continue to be.


We have had a student that won the dean’s list award each of the two years of it’s existence and one of the students, Seth Berg, won the award at the championship in 2010. I will atempt to demonstrate what they have done to be deserving of these awards.

The dean’s list award is like the MVP in sports. It isn’t just about how well your team does or about how well you do, it is about the difference you make in your organization. Teaching new members, demonstrating leadership, and learning as much as you can from FIRST. These students not only inspire the other students, they inspire the mentors. They inspire the mentors to learn more and come back year after year. They make people gravitate towards FIRST.

The dean’s list is a great award because it recognizes those who really personify FIRST and it’s effect on students and those students’ effect on other people.

What to people think of FIRST advising the mentors to choose juniors instead of seniors this year?

I think the logic behind Juniors over Seniors is at least partially due to colleges wanting to attract students.

One of our students, currently a college freshman, won the Dean’s List award as a Junior and was contact by a number of schools he would have likely never considered applying too. Those same schools referenced the Dean’s List award in their correspondence with him.

At this point of the school year most seniors either know where they are going or are waiting until April to get notification, if they received a Dean’s List award this year it would have much less of an impact on their immediate educational future.

I think that’s a smart move. It’s been stated again and again from the beginning that they want this to be something students can put on college applications. I think FIRST realizes that not all students balance robotics with school properly, and therefor may have a weaker GPA because of this. Or maybe they just want to help more kids get into better colleges.

Seeing as how the honor has little more tangible reward (well, a pin) than the ability to put it on applications, I approve of their advice. Especially for the ones who actually win (not just finalists). That recommendation is probably a very nice gold star for an application.

Personally, I think it makes complete sense. The Juniors can benefit more from getting on the Dean’s List than Seniors can. That doesn’t stop a team from recognizing the effort their Seniors put in, though - The mentors can certainly write something up and give it to the students or present it infront of the team.

Another aspect of this is expectations. Look at what mentors expect from a senior. They might be a captain, or a design leader, or hold some other leadership role on the team. The expectations are set pretty high - you expect them to do that job on the team, and there’s relatively little room for them to exceed expectations. Now, look at what you expect from a rookie. You want them to show up, learn, and work hard. It’s relatively easier for them to exceed their expectations, by doing something that would just be expected of an older, more experienced member.

For me, the real question for a team is: Do you nominate a sophomore or freshman? With our team, everyone has an equal chance of improving the team and the community - there’s no preference or additional opportunities for seniority. That allows an underclassman (or a rookie!) to be just as influential as a Senior. But, a freshman will have several more chances to be nominated, while a Junior won’t (if you rule out nominating Seniors).


I may be biased as a senior, but I don’t personally agree with nominating juniors over seniors, unless the Junior has represented the award more than a Senior has. Class should not have anything to do with the award, the award should celebrate those who deserve to be celebrated, regardless of class. I can understand why juniors should be nominated, but some seniors deserve the award as well.

We generally look at the student’s growth (as a team member and as a person) as well as other “non robotics” activities.


Student “A”
High school Junior
Third year on the team (FRC)
Mentors local FLL/FTC/VEX/SeaPerch/Jason/Whatever Team
Eagle Scout or some other community involvement (Key Club, etc.)
Plays some high school sport

Student “B”
High school Junior
Third year on the team (FRC)
Sub team Leader
Goes home and plays computer games, nothing else of note regarding items that would end up on a college application.

Its not hard to see which students “gets” FIRST and which one just like robots.

If its tied between a senior and a junior, I’m more likely to pick the junior. That’s where my thoughts are. If a senior obviously deserves over another student, I’m going to vote for them.

Also, the award is old enough now that there is no reason a senior shouldn’t have had the chance to be nominated when they’re a junior (outside of them not joining soon enough).

I think the student(s) that have had the biggest impact on the team (have lead the most, helped out the most, inspired the most, grown the most etc.) should always be the ones nominated for the award.

I can understand the reasoning behind giving preference to a junior over a senior… To a junior being a Dean’s List Nominee, Finalist or Winner is something they can put on their college apps… To a senior the award won’t have as much “use” - for summer internships it’d probably be meaningful, but come time for sending out resumes for jobs after college it won’t have the same weight. As much as that “usefulness” exists, I can’t help but feel that a team’s superstar(s) have to be the ones nominated, regardless of other factors…

For a senior, this is their last chance. Odds are good that since they’re a team’s superstar they’ve had a growing role over the years - they were probably a great leader and inspiration in their junior year… maybe they were nominated and perhaps were a finalist and/or winner. Since they have such a love for FIRST, they’re probably even more involved this year than last year (their junior year)! So nominate them again - maybe they’ll have grown enough to be a winner this year!

Since the award is now in its third year, there’s really no excuse to base the nomination indiscriminately off of age. If your team’s superstar is a junior or senior, nominate them… even if they’re a sophomore or freshman, I’d nominate them (although I honestly would be surprised if many teams exist where their two superstars are sophomores or freshmen). I really don’t think preference should be given to juniors or seniors.


P.S. FIRST’s decision to give preference to juniors in the judging frustrates me… Perhaps I’m just being cynical, but I think part of their reasoning is so that a winning student’s positive image feeds back to them… colleges seeing that these fine students are associated with FIRST adds to FIRST’s reputation also. If they just wanted juniors to have the benefit of throwing it on their college app, they’d simply point out that juniors have that added use of the award. I don’t think FIRST needs to be casting that doubt on whether the award winners are truly the most qualified…

I agree with the frustration over the age level. I know several seniors across many teams that have been overlooked as candidates because of the mention of preference towards juniors. I can’t help feeling this will encourage teams to only choose their juniors on the team that may not necessarily have those key FIRST ideals that some seniors have developed, cultivated and exhibit. :frowning:

<begin rant>

Initially I thought the main purpose of the DL was to identify students that were essentially going to be the future leaders, the future flag bearers, for FIRST. The students that really understood the mission of FIRST, carried it out, and would be willing to advocate for FIRST in the future.

IMHO, the definition of a DL student, as defined by FIRST, has shifted and maybe was never on solid ground.

Now it is something in the direction of trying to show universities and colleges which students “have the right stuff”. Or from a different perspective, a way for universities to validate FIRST by saying they give preference to DL candidates.

Personally I am not very happy at all about the shift to the DL program having to do with college admissions. University admission have to sort out the truly capable from the people that are “just on the roster”. I don’t think the DL is the right way to do that.

Just my 1 cent…

</end rant>

I guess FIRST intends on juniors’ rewards to be DLA, and senior’s rewards to be scholarships. Why not pick a junior and a senior at each event? Our team picked a senior last year and a junior this year because of the specific request for juniors, which means two seniors on my team who were instrumental in the team’s growth this year weren’t recognized because we felt it to be futile.

That was the initial purpose of the Dean’s List Award; and in the essence, the 20 from the past two years are students who have gone on, or are working to become the next generation of FIRST leaders.

Now, FIRST has something that could become world-renown past our own community, and set our best students apart from the rest. While I think that the Dean’s List award this year will exhibit some students that are truly the embodiment of FIRST, the award isn’t supposed to be a publicity stunt. And if it turns out to be that way, I don’t think they’ll ever be able to use the 2012 FIRST Dean’s List finalists & winners and later receipients to their true potential to change this organization for the better.