F4 - Episode 7 (Regionals Vs. Districts)

Hey guys F4 is going to be back again Sunday 4/17 at 8:00PM Eastern Standard time with the biggest episode yet.

Regionals Vs. Districts

This weeks episode is a controversial one. Its a big discussion currently and we have some passionate students on. 2 that are pro regionals 2 that are pro districts.

Now lets introduce our co-hosts

To start off we have Grace Rosenvall from team 2122 Team Tators. Grace is the strategy lead on her team along with being on her team’s mechanical sub team. Grace is from the great state of Idaho and was a co-host on episode 2.

Next we have Collin Cresta. Collin is the captain of his team 4954 Palindrome Robotics and also has skills in CAD, prototyping, and programming. Collin is from the forgotten state of Delaware and currently enjoys the district system. Collin is not new to F4 starting off on episode 4.

Lastly we have Jon Logrippo from team team 3309 the Friarbots. Jon is not only the Vice president of public relations on his team he is also a deans list finalist winning the award at the Los Angeles regional. Jon is from the state that does not seem in any rush to move to districts and that is California.

Overall this episode is going to be insane. The debates have already started on our slack chat and we actually have a wait list to be on this episode… If that says anything.

A few new features/improvements

Chat Mod - This week our chat mod will be Mitchel Stokes from team 5817 Uni-Rex. He will be in the chat keeping things civil along with copying down your questions and concerns.

Chat screen - We have from the start spent the last ten minutes going over community questions. This week however your chat messages will be displayed on screen.

So, remember to watch the show! Put a reminder in your phone write it on your hand whatever it takes because trust me its going to be a good one.

F4 Channel -https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCVd7jV5lIirbn0f71skmVIA

Apply to be an F4 Host and join our slack chat (Disclaimer: for students only) - http://goo.gl/forms/h9NIv1IqYl

Before I sign off I should mention this episode will be much more structured then our previous ones in order to keep things 100% civil and informative. All co-hosts have their own data and facts along with personal experience to back up their claims. We will sadly not be answering questions mid episode as we have done but, they will be copied down. If you want to 100% guarantee your question will be answered post it down below.

Going to go out on a limb and guess you mean 4/17 for the date?

Yes, Thank you.

Looking forward to hearing from students about this.

When I was a student and districts were new in Michigan (and were coming to MAR), I felt that it would ruin the appeal and spectacle of what a regional is. As a mentor, I am usually more concerned with the return on investment and prefer districts.

Student perspective like this can help all of us improve both districts and regionals!

Are any of the students on teams that have transitioned from Regionals to Districts (or vice-versa because of a move to a different state)?

Nope sadly that would be cool.

3 out of 4 students are currently in the Regional system with only one currently competing with the district model.

Sent from my LG-H810 using Tapatalk

Perhaps a future episode could have mentors/volunteers who have made the transition to give alternate perspectives on things.

IIRC, the premise of this show is to have students on only, so I doubt this would be the show for that!

Perhaps a recommendation can be sent to FUN.

I went from regionals to districts and back to regionals again from my sophomore year of high school to now (freshman year of college).

Yea as Akash said the big premise behind the show is student opinions. This sounds like a topic FUN might touch on though if you ask them.

I understand the desire for it to be student opinions but that doesn’t mean that you can’t have students who have recently made the transition discuss the pros and cons. I think that would be a great show.

The students on the show apply. Of the people who applied these are the people who want to come on the show this week. I would not object at all to having students who recently make the transition talk. We have one student who recently made the switch in our community but he couldn’t make it this week due to dcmp. If we have enough students who recently switched from the regional model to district model we could maybe do a seperate episode on a later date.

I like the premise of this specific episode, and kudos to you for putting yourself out there with this type of show.

That being said, no student or mentor can truly be against districts without having been apart of the district system. The general arguments that come out is about the “quality” of the show put on at a regional VS district as well as “sponsors don’t want to see their money go to things that get shown in a high school gym”. The 1st one can potentially be seen as a true argument but until people have been in the district system their opinion is invalid. As for the 2nd argument all the district areas would probably give you many reasons why that is wrong.

There are more arguments that come out, but most of them aren’t seen on the student end of the spectrum. The 2 above have the most potential to affect a students experience.

You’ve touched on several of my points that I will be making on the Sunday episode, and I totally understand what you mean.

As a student, the individual experience at a competition means a lot to my team and I. The production value displayed at our local regionals helps us get more members, sponsors, and mentors interested because it pushes the “after-school robotics club” motif into the zone of “professional and official varsity sports”.

Yes, I haven’t been to a district event in my FRC career, but I have been to six regionals, and those six regionals have heavily influenced the way I viewed robotics as a freshman member on 3309.

I felt the same way before New England made the switch. It didn’t impact my experience at all. I enjoyed districts more because I was able to go to more events, and the change in production value ended up being a non-issue.

We will definitely be covering this topic on one of our off-season shows and would be delighted to have Sam as well as a couple other sides of the coin on for guests.

I notice that you went to the Orange County Regional this year, which happened to be held at Valencia High School. Do you have any photos of the venue/event, or would you explain how you feel that this regional that was held in a High School was more polished an event than a district held in similar venues? I also see that there were 42 teams present, please elaborate how this event was better than a district that again has similar number of teams.

I am not attacking you personally just trying to understand your point of view, when it seems you went to a district event this year that was disguised as a regional.

Please understand that the views I hold about the OC Regional are not reflective of my team’s views.

The OC Regional, despite being well-run for a 1st year regional, was lacking in comparison to the other regionals 3309 competed at due to the fact that it was held in a high school gym, like many district events. This might seem petty to the average robotics member but it makes a huge difference when you’re seeing FRC for the first time, IMO.

The things that negatively set the OC Regional apart from other Regional Events:

  • Lack of A/C: This was a big one. The stands were very uncomfortable for the spectators, scouting teams, and VIP that I led around during my time volunteering as Student Ambassador.
  • Odd Practice Field Placement: Teams had to access the practice field via a small set of stairs, so you either had to carry your bot up the stairs or use a wheel-chair lift.
  • Small aisles between the pits: Pits got very crowded at times and it was tough to move through the aisles.
  • Power in the Pits: Pit power was not available on Wednesday Set-up, and the power supplied to the Pit Area.
  • Overall Layout: To get from the pits to the field, teams had to walk around the entire gym building. There were only two doors that led to the field, and the closest was reserved for queuing. Other layout issues include the fact that VIP and volunteers had to walk across campus to get to the Volunteer Lounge. Make of that what you will.

The things that set apart the OC Regional from many District Events:

  • Official FRC Lighting and Display: I’ve researched the requirements for Districts and it seems that FIRST doesn’t provide district events with the lighting truss for the competition field. This lighting truss A) makes many regionals consistently well-lit (barring any vision camera issues) and B) easier for spectators to see the field. That being said, I do not know what districts typically do besides relying on the venue for lighting.
  • Minimum Standards: All FIRST Regionals are held to minimum standards in many, many ways. Here’s the link for Regional Standards and here’s the link for District Standards. I can’t make any comments as to how often the standards for District events are met and exceeded, but the quality standards for regionals set by FRC makes the over-all regional experience consistent. Production value is also maintained, as well.
  • Practice Day Robot Unbag vs. 6-Hour Unbag: Again, I don’t fully understand the rules of districts. However, based on what I believe I know about the 6-Hour Unbag Rule, Regional Teams get around 12 hours to modify their robot if they choose to not participate in practice matches. This is double what District Teams are given in their shops the day before competition starts.
  • Practice Matches: Looking at the documentation for District Events on this page, it seems that there is very little time for practice matches. Could you please actually explain to me how practice matches work at District Events?
  • Overall Support from FIRST: Based on my research on FIRST’s website, the overall documentation support and quality standards that are provided for Regional Events far exceed the ones for District Events. I think this puts Regionals at an advantage (FIRST should provide Districts with the same support, IMO) and that advantage ensures that Regionals are consistently high in quality.

All of my points have been drawn from research on FIRST’s website, so my personal understanding of how Districts are run might be completely different to the way things actually are.

Also, my stance on Regionals v. Districts isn’t that Districts are a bad system, but that Districts should not be put in place everywhere and the same goes for Regionals. Despite that fact, I think Regionals have some more pros than District events.

My views on this will be further explained on Sunday’s show, as well.

I am going to try to address the questions you have and the areas where you state you do not fully know how districts work.

Most districts I have been to rely on house lighting. These are generally played in high school or university gymnasiums, typically where basketball is played*. When at a basketball game, you expect to see the players and the ball, the lighting available will also light up a full FRC field.

Fun fact: AZ West Regional only used house lighting.

Going off the FIM schedule, teams get 8 hours at the event between the doors opening and matches starting. This includes the pit set-up and inspection time, as well as opening ceremonies.

I am again going to talk in regards to FIM, since that is what I know best. Practice matches are available to teams that have passed inspection on Thursday afternoon/evening once the field is set-up. This means that teams that want to practice on the field can. Practice matches are filler line only, i.e. there is no schedule where you are given a specific match.

I’m not sure what you mean by support from FIRST. The field is not transported by FIRST, that is up to the district (some exceptions exist when a district is borrowing a FIRST field for one week). FIRST in New Hampshire supports the event, technically wise, just as they support a regional, the FTA and other key volunteers can contact FIRST for help if there are any problems related to the field or robot connectivity.

Regionals (and the championship and I believe some district championships) are supported by Show Ready Events, a production company that organizes a large number of conferences and conventions. The SRE representative handles a large amount of back-end logistics which are transferred to a member of the planning committee at a district.

*I use the words generally and typically for a reason, each venue is different.

I’m only going to address my thoughts on the unbag time because RTG covered the rest.

Having the unbag time at YOUR build facility is far superior than having it in the pits. For the most part teams have access to a better machine shop, materials, hardware, etc at their facility than they do in the pits. Working from your facility means that you don’t have to worry about forgetting something critical that could make or brake your event if you forgot it at a traditional regional. There is also less stress in that window as well as you don’t have inspectors and others politely hounding you to get inspected.

And like RTG said you get time at your event as well.