The big places I’d look, and thoughts:
- Local tech workers/engineers/businessfolk
- Mentors and Volunteers from other FIRST programs
- Mentors from FRC teams not at the event
- Alumni from other areas, or older alumni
1. Local tech workers tend to be awesome judges; (I believe) they’re the largest population of Judges at Silicon Valley Regional, and while at first they may not have gotten FIRST, they have a good rate of return, and a few of them have even become mentors of teams, after a few years of judging. Bonus points if you get some of the more senior folks at Tech companies, because they may end up sponsoring a team, or event! Basically, their expertise is invaluable, and they should be a significant part of your judge pool. (I know Haifa and Tel Aviv have a lot of tech presence, but I’m not sure about your area. I imagine you could draw folks from both, since it doesn’t look absolutely that far to either.)
2. Mentors and Volunteers from FLL and FTC are awesome choices, because they get FIRST, but are usually not affiliated with FRC teams. There’s a smaller training cost than random tech workers, but they’ll still have to learn the intricacies of FRC. There’s a good chance they have expertise relevant to a few awards, and if they judge other programs, they will understand the process super quickly. I suspect most Judge Advisors will try to mix them in with the industry judges, to get both perspectives on each panel.
3. Mentors from other FRC teams may still have affiliation/bias, but it’s much less of an issue, and easier to manage, because there obviously aren’t any discussions involving their own team. The issue is geography; since you’re in a district, with more small events, you may be able to find folks within a reasonable range of more events than the ones their own teams attend. Obviously, most of these judges will only really need to learn the process, which a good JA can do easily. This is a really popular option with offseason events that do judging.
4. And alumni! This may be a bit harder in Israel, since I’m guessing most of your alumni are from the older Israeli teams, and have complex histories, and biases. I’d be careful with anyone who was on an Israeli team in the last 5-6 years, although anyone past college who you really trust to be responsible and mature enough is worth considering. They bring a good perspective, having that closer connection to what the kids are doing, as well as being able to connect with them a bit better. I’d evaluate these folks on a one-off basis, how well you know and trust them, and how they’ve performed in volunteer roles previously, that require being responsible.