**FIRST EMAIL**/FIRST Adds District Event Model Alternative to FRC Program

Greetings Teams:

FIRST® and the FIRST® Robotics Competition (FRC) wish to engage more youth, high schools, and communities in robotics programs to help students prepare for a world where careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) will be critical to sustaining future innovation.

In order to achieve this, the FIRST organization has recently worked on creative ways to make the FRC program more accessible and affordable to all by:

  •      Opening up more tournaments across the country; and 
  •      Lowering the costs for FRC teams to participate (such as our recent price reduction for Veteran teams as well as grants to Rookie teams).  

Thanks to the efforts of many dedicated volunteers, *FIRST *in Michigan successfully piloted a District Event Model format in the state of Michigan during the 2009 season.

Instead of the three traditional Regional events staged in 2008, seven lower cost, local District Events were held in 2009, each hosting 40 teams. Based on the points earned in participating in two of these District Events, approximately half of the Michigan FRC teams qualified for the Michigan State Championship event. Most teams realized time and cost efficiencies due to the closeness of the District Events. All teams had the opportunity for more “plays” at these District Events, and the same number of Michigan teams qualified for the FIRST Championship in 2009 in Atlanta as did in the 2008 season.
The results of a survey given to Michigan team members and volunteers who were involved in this pilot were overwhelmingly positive, and participants also made additional recommendations which could be incorporated into future FRC District Event Model seasons.
Survey Says…

The highlights of the recent Michigan District Event Model survey include:

  •      94% of team leaders, mentors and team members rated their District Model experience as “good” or “excellent;”
  •      The District Event Model approach met its goal of providing more “plays” at a generally lower cost;
  •      80% of prior participants rated their District Event Model experience as the same or better than their experience in 2008 on multiple measures;
  •      94% of tournament volunteers reported it was “likely” or “very likely” that they would volunteer next year and were satisfied with the training and support they received; and
  •      The ability to reduce travel costs because of the expanded number of local events in the District Model was seen as a benefit.

The entire Michigan District Model survey can be viewed at: http://www.usfirst.org/aboutus/content.aspx?id=46

FIRST** Board Approves the District Event Model Alternative for Future FRC Seasons…**

Subsequently, the FIRST Board of Directors assessed the entire Michigan District Event Model pilot including, but not limited to questions such as:

  •      Did the new model meet the goal of providing more opportunities to compete at a lower cost?
  •      Did the new model deliver high quality, engaging tournament experiences for teams, coaches, mentors, volunteers and others?
  •      Was the District Event Model pilot able to successfully recruit and train needed volunteers and tournaments officials? and
  •      Did the District Event Model exhibit a level of quality and excitement to meet *FIRST *standards?

In August, 2009 the FIRST Board of Directors voted to make the District Event Model an approved alternative competition format for future FRC seasons. The Board agreed that FIRST staff should support local efforts to expand the District Event Model into other regions – when and where appropriate based on local circumstances. Among the essential elements for successful implementation of the District Event Model are a high density of FRC teams in a limited geographic area and an experienced and dedicated local volunteer base.

Will the District Event Model come to my area?

FIRST headquarters staff and Regional Directors will work with local volunteer committees to evaluate the potential interest and feasibility for applying the District Event Model in the 2011, or later, season. It took very careful planning and tremendous volunteer support for* FIRST* in Michigan to successfully execute the Pilot. With their cooperation, we will build on their experiences to make FRC even more accessible in the future.

Go Teams!

Big and exciting news.

For many of us, FRC as we know it is about to change dramatically.

I would rate the Michigan model favorably too if FIRST had reduced my costs by half! Hopefully we will be able to reap the benefits one day. The problem with spreading this that I see is that most of these teams were started and then got a break with the district model. Other areas will need the discounted district model to grow to start with, not after they have already grown. With our yearly budget we could fund two maybe three “district” teams however at the moment we could support ourselves and maybe one other at a much reduced experience.

I’m glad it’s an alternative instead of required. I don’t know if many areas can handle it at all, but those that can have the green light, which is good. I’m glad it’s more of a local decision to execute.

To be frank, this is one of the best decisions that FRC has made in regards to the district model.

I agree 100% with this post. This was the outcome of the FIM Beta that I was hoping for - allowed but not required.

I’m told NJ will not be doing districts this year. :frowning: I was looking forward to it.

If I had to guess, I’d say that not many new regions will go to this model in 2010 - but many likely will in 2011. There are many logistical decisions (booking venues, staffing, funding, etc.) made too far in advance for FIRST’s August decision to affect many states this year.

Well, this probably almost assuredly means that CA will be moving to districts in 2011.

After talking with Paul about MI’s districts he’s managed to convince me that they are a good thing. I just don’t look forward to never playing with teams from outside CA/the surrounding states.

It would be nice if there was some way for any regions that are running district events and not regionals allow their teams to compete in other districts in other regions.

I dunno, Cory. That’s a lot of ground, and 3-4 separate volunteer groups to work with (coordinate), minimum. And with the travel… I’m not holding my breath for CA to get districts. There’s a lot of logistical problems.

Only Michigan will use this District model again in 2010.
By 2011 more areas will be allowed to opt-in.

As a Michigander, I ended up really liking the FiM system. I was originally dead set against it because it seemed confusing and unstable, and that we wouldn’t get to compete with out-of-state teams (since it was decided early on that my team would not be travelling out of state; we would just do our two district events).

However, I did originally like the fact that we got two districts, with more plays than a regional, for the price of one, and that is still one of my favorite parts of the program. I know that in the past, some teams were unable to go to two regionals because of the cost, but the district setup allowed them to experience the thrill and fun of two districts, for the same amount they were paying in previous years. It also helped a lot of teams who were suffering from the economy. This past year, our team would most likely only be able to attend one event, since we lost our biggest sponsor (GM) and had to cut back on costs A LOT.

And despite the lack out out-of-state teams, there was still a lot of competition, and I ended up making a lot of new friends :

The only thing that I still don’t like is, while we get to play more matches, that also shortens the time we have between matches to make repairs. The time it now takes to load/configure (or whatever it’s called) the code onto the robot almost made us miss a few matches at Kettering, because oftentimes we had both mechanical and software repairs to make.

Pretty sure the plan was going to be a “success” even before the 2009 season. I’m glad it’s opt-in, though.

The apparent lack of changes to the points system is upsetting, since then the choice between districts and events also requires planners to factor in how much they want to shift the way awards are valued at events. It seems like what are extremely important issues to at least me (devaluing of Chairman’s and EI awards with respect to qualifying, practically no reward for winning FIRST’s most important awards, other issues that have been beaten to death) remain unchanged here, so I guess for the intents and purposes of state competition, the state events shift more toward “the best robots and oh here’s this other award stuff too”.

I was really hoping at least as many points as the winning alliance for Chairman’s / EI, or culture changing awards not being completely irrelevant for qualifications. I mean you get what you celebrate, right?

Yup there were issues with prepayed venues for 2010 events and contracts of the sort.

The 2011 hosts for districts in NJ will most likely be 25, 11, and 75+1403 I am told.

The opt-in thing is cool i guess, but how about an opt-out? My team is located in the western side of the UP. The closest district last year was 8.5 hours away! We had to travel down state 2 times and it didn’t save us any money.

I said it last year and I’m going to say it again, Nobody thinks about logistics! Yes we got 2 comps for the price of 1 but we had to travel farther than anybody else in MI. The farthest anybody in the LP had to travel was what 5 hours maybe? It takes us that long just to get to the bridge! And we have to do it 4 times(there and back 2 times)! Thats alot of miles and alot of money to spend on a bus and hotels.

I’m all for the district events I just want them to change the lines and allow more than 1 state to be involved, I want to compete against more and different teams!

I see no reason why a system like FiM would have to be strictly confined to the borders of an actual state. Indeed, in many areas the only way that it would be feasible would be to aggregate the teams of different regions.

Establish district event locations and let each team choose the district that makes the most logistical sense for them. Everybody is happy.

This sounds like you folk were a special case that could easily be handled with a tiny bit of flexibility. I’d bet that a polite and well written inquiry would make all the difference. The problem would be that FIRST may be afraid that opening the door for you would open the door for other teams’ complaints and whining.

FIRST is a company providing a service for a fee – this is “customer feedback,” not “whining.” I think your point would be better made if you didn’t take shots at other teams.

I know there was some idea’s being thrown around talking at IRI wanting to get a midwest system setup for “districts” that involved a combo of Illinois ohio indiana and wisconsin (not all obviously)

Sorry Rick, point taken.

I attempted to use the word “whining” as short hand for “insistence that no team have an unfair advantage over another team, even if this means reducing the benefit to all teams involved”. From my limited point of view, I see many instances where fairness is over or under weighted, and this type of request has the definite potential to be one such instance. No particular team would be hurt if EricLeifermann’s team played as if they were in Wisconsin, but a Detroit team could use it to insist that they be allowed to play as if they were in Ohio. Rather than tell the hypothetical team to suck it up, the uP team could be penalized with very expensive travel.

I do believe that there are entities in FIRST that are whiny, but I also believe that the hypothetical entities are “whinier” than the real ones.

Here is one thing I kinda wonder about: Would it be possible to just pick 8-12 regionals that are around each other and have them be “Districts”? All you’d have to do is set up a “Regional Championship”.