Excellence in Engineering Award?

What does it typically take to win the Excellence in Engineering Award? What do the judges look for? Is there anything that can be done to a robot to give it an edge? Just curious and looking for helpful ideas for the future.

It’s about robot design, robot performance, the design process, the engineering behind your robot, and how well you sell your team. As the person who did most of the talking(despite my lack of a voice), you have to prove that you not only built a good robot, but that you engineered a robot as a team. And you have to function particularly well on the field.
My $.02 from our experience this year winning our first ever award related to robot stuff in our team’s (599) existence.

Thanks for the quick reply! I wasn’t sure if on field performance was a major factor or not so thanks for clarifying!

Team 4004 won the award at the 2014 Gull Lake District Event in Michigan this past weekend. The main reason we won the award was not due to having some incredibly insane robot that would never loose (we were in 26th place with a 5-7 record). We did however have a few very interesting things that our robot had, that most team do not. These included the ability to completely take off the superstructure of the robot, leaving behind the completely contained drive base that can still operate fully. We also have a few other really cool small things like an arduino controlled control box for my co-driver to operate during the match for several features on our robot. These two reasons were the main reasons why we won the award. Over the course of the two-day event, we literally had every single judge come to our pit to see these two features and were amazed, making sure to come back several times to look at it again and again.
As for what you can do for this season, I don’t really believe that you could do anything that would greatly enhance the design of your robot, as these things were all apart of our beginning plan with out robot, which we then produced through our robot. As for what you can do in the future, you cant truly work towards winning this award, as it is simply something that comes about during the design process and what the judges decide is “cool”. We had no idea that we would win this award and were truly mesmerized when our team was called down during awards. Good Luck in the future!

Anthony- Team 4004

1058 won this award at the UNH district event last week. The major thing that they liked was how we designed our robot to be robust and we how we didn’t break any part of our robot throughout the competition. They also liked our unique design and how the students were the ones who built it and described it to the judges. While we functioned well on the field, they don’t care about your record or anything like that (we went 4-7-1 and were quarterfinalists).

192 won it at Hub City last week. It was for our space saving 2 speed gear box. Each year the students design and build a new gear box. The goal for the last 3 have been to reduce the space in the middle used by the drive train.


The cims are over the frame and wheeels.

And I might add this gearbox was very impressive.

It was great competing with you guys this past weekend at Hub City. I did not get a chance to see the string pot on the robot.

So basically summing up what I’ve heard:
-Judges seem to focus on one or two unique/ingenious aspects of the robot

  • Having a student built robot impresses judges
  • Student explanation of the robot goes a long way
  • Robot on field record isn’t a major factor but does influence the award
    -The more unique the robot the more likely it is to win the award (if it works well)

Thanks everybody for replying!

The most important thing, is to never say “i don’t know” have enogh of the team in the pit to answer any questions they have, from a part in your code to the type of aluminum you chose and why, im not sure why they wanted to know that but they asked us… It helps that you have an innovative desighn but is not nedeed if you can exxplain why you did anything an everything on your robot.

This year was our first year winning the award. We won the award based on one mechanism for our robot, the intake.
The two aspects that (I believe) judges take into consideration is thoughtfulness + creativity in design and how well you can explain/sell it to them.

When explaining the intake, I went into great detail on WHY the mechanism is ideal, i.e. it allowed us to make a two stage elevator that was able to reach all rocket levels. Then I explained the thoughtfulness behind it. I explained all the geometry behind it and how each aspect allowed the robot to operate more simply. Elegant simplicity is better than working overcomplexity.

If anyone is curious, we are team 3216 and there is a picture of our robot on The Blue Alliance.

Thank you for answering my question from 5 years and 2 months ago!


Better late than never. XD

Have you had success in achieving this award in that time?

No but I’ll take 4 Chairmans Awards in a row as a solid consolation prize. Our first engineering award was actually the Quality Award at champs this year so we’re getting there on the engineering side!


Congratz! What team are you a part of?

4607, CIS, from Becker, Minnesota. A cool fact that Ryan didn’t mention was that they also made Einstein this year from the Carson division.


Not only that, but were being played over the alliance captain (yes, technically 2052 did, but as their defense bot, it was a given that 2052 would play).

Student built robot impresses judges but its not requirement (for any awards, FIRST promotes students and mentors to collaborate etc). I don’t believe they consider that fact in their decision.

Award description: Celebrates an elegant and advantageous machine feature.

  • A student team member must be able to describe the engineered feature and trace its conception, design, manufacturing/assembly and deployment.

  • The feature reflects an engineering solution to specific problem, and it is functional and practical

  • The feature is elegant and advantageous on the field
    It does not break during the competition and requires minimal maintenance

It could be one or more features. If you could show the judges your thought process and initial design in some form of documentation (engineering design, scrapbook, sketches, photos or models) your team will stand out.

I believe this is how our team won this award couple of times.

Worth noting that a “machine feature” doesn’t have to be a mechanism. We (ostensibly) won it for our camera system at DCMP. (Though the judges might have wanted to give Innovation in Control to another team… we won it at both of our other in-district events.)

I’m sorry :sweat_smile:. I’m getting used to the format of mobile. When I saw the date, I saw the 14 and thought it was the day and not the year. I’m glad to see you and your team has done well since then.

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