[FRC Blog] 2020 Season Judging Updates

Posted on the FRC Blog 10/25/19 by Cindy Stong and Allen Bancroft, Co-Chief Judge Advisors

2020 Season Judging Updates

Written by Cindy Stong and Allen Bancroft, Co-Chief Judge Advisors, FIRST Robotics Competition.

This summer, we have been again hard at work making improvements to the Judging Process and we are excited to share these updates:

Chairman’s Award Changes

In an effort to help both teams and judges, we are pleased to share that teams will no longer have to print the Chairman’s Video Consent form, sign it, and bring it to each event. This form is now part of the Chairman’s submission. Teams will not be able to submit their application without clicking the checkbox that agrees to the Chairman’s Video Consent & Release of Rights Form. A screenshot of how this will appear in the portal is below:

Chairmans Award Video Consent Online FIRST Robotics Competition

Over the past few years, one thing we have repeatedly heard from both teams and judges is how to verify the data in each team’s Chairman’s submission. This summer, we partnered with the Hall of Fame Teams get one step closer to solving this issue. We have updated the Chairman’s Award Definitions and introduced a new word – “Reached”. You will also notice that we introduced a Documentation Form. Teams are expected to select the appropriate word when submitting their application. To help ensure they are doing that, teams are asked to provide the Chairman’s Documentation Form to the Judges to verify the words and numbers they are using. Note this is not a required form (i.e. you can still be eligible without this form) but providing it shows the Judges that your activities are well planned and documented. We recognize many teams have been providing this sort of documentation to the judges already, but by formalizing the process with a form and tighter definitions we hope to make this process more consistent and clearer for all teams and judges.

Dean’s List Award Changes

Another improvement we have made is to the Dean’s List nomination process. Instead of asking for each student’s GPA, we instead are asking the mentor to describe the student’s academic performance with an indicator the school uses with 200 maximum characters. We recognize that many schools provide feedback about performance in different ways and limiting it to GPA does not allow for those differences. Here are 2 examples of how a mentor may fill in this question:

Example 1 - Josh excels not only in robotics but also in his classes. His cumulative GPA is 3.9 out of a 4.0 scale.
Example 2 - Josh excels in academics. He has attained 90% on a 100% scale

Submitted Award Interview Changes

If you typically submit for either the Chairman’s or Dean’s List award, you know that those awards require an interview and each event had a sign-up for teams to choose their preferred interview slot. This introduced a level of unfairness that we are attempting to improve. Teams no longer have to spend unnecessary time waiting to sign up or worry when they are slightly late arriving to the venue. Instead, teams that have successfully submitted online will be randomly assigned to a time slot for an interview. Once the interview schedule has been posted, Pit Admin will make an announcement and teams can see the slot to which they are assigned. Some teams may need to request to change time slots. In order to do so, the team must find another team who is willing to switch. Both teams will then go to Pit Admin and request the time change. Pit Admin is the only group who can approve the change. Pit Admin will alert the Judge Advisor or Judge Advisor Assistant.

Entrepreneurship Award

You may remember last year that we announced the new process for the Entrepreneurship Award that no longer required an online submission. After receiving feedback from this past season, we have made some slight adjustments to the guidelines and also created a template to help teams better understand what we are looking for. Please note, that this is a rough guideline and used to steer teams in the right direction, but teams can still (and should) add their own creative touches to ensure the Summary Business plan represents their team.

Safety Award

This summer, we have begun working closer with UL (Underwriters Laboratories) and wanted the award description to align more closely with the other awards, so be sure to check out the updated guidelines. Moving forward, Judges and UL Safety Advisors will work together on judging this award at events. We will also only be awarding one winner per event. This award does still differ from the other awards in one area: the ‘Spread the Wealth’ philosophy so this award will stand alone.

Judging Process

In an effort to be a little more transparent about the Judging process, we have created a 1-page document that shows how the Judging Process works at a typical event. We train our Judge Advisors to maintain a consistent experience for the teams, but there are external factors (i.e. number of volunteers available, etc) that sometimes may modify this process slightly. We hope all of our teams have a good experience with Judging at the event and if you have any questions contact FIRST HQ .


This seems a bit curious:


Gotta promote “your” cause above others, money has to flow somehow…

Unfortunately they’re not promoting their cause. Their cause is STEM education. They’re promoting their interest. Their interest is money growth.


Oh boy I get to post this meme again

Also: can they please have the Chairman’s/Dean’s list schedule be generated after the match schedule to avoid conflicts? It would be pretty useful for small teams and/or drive team members nominated for Dean’s List.


Although nice in theory, you are assuming that somewhere in the FIRST Universe there is an event that runs totally on schedule. :rofl::rofl::rofl:

Our team was really small during the Stronghold season, and two of the Chairman’s team were also on the drive time – and one was the human player out on the field. I believe it was a week 1 event and there was a field fault that, for over an hour, they thought would “be fixed in 5 minutes” so they make the human players stay inside the airship. Our poor Chairman’s student not on the drive team had to trade with four different teams while the other presenter was stuck in the airship.


I really appreciate the enhancements to the documentation and definition of Chairman’s Award criteria. Those are long due improvements that should cut down on loose interpretations of those definitions.


I still don’t trust teams not to embellish…


I’d never say embellishment, “Chairman’s Programitis” or outright lying will go away entirely, but with the former definitions and documentation requirements (or lack thereof), even well-intentioned teams could have significantly different interpretations, and distinctions of started/mentored/assisted could easily be not communicated to the “ed” teams. This will certainly cut back on those honest mistakes, with some bare minimum level of documentation for those activities.


To be fair, at least in my opinion (and I presume the opinion of a lot of people), vex games are a lot more interesting then FTC games to compete in.

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I’m slightly concerned about the Dean’s list and chairman’s time slots. Many of the qualities that make students good deans list candidates also make them stand out for drive team, and I’d hate for someone to have to make the heart wrenching decision of choosing between their interview and playing a match because the match schedule was running behind. I know when I was on drive team and a chairman’s presenter I’d always purposefully choose a slot before matches or in another lull period. Same thing with my old teams driver who was nominated for Dean’s list. I pray that teams will be able to switch, but it’s really difficult. Especially since the match schedules are so subjected to change.

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This has been our issue every freaking year for four years straight but it has always worked out. We pick a “lull period” for Chairmans and it always gets messed up! But teams are nice and will always trade if they can. This year we are facing it again but we’ll have well-trained (in theory) back-up drivers who I’m sure will be able to handle one match.

I am pretty sure the Dean’s List interviews for our kids this year were on the regional practice/inspection day, so that was better.


Well it’s nice to know there’s some precedent fo it and that’s teams are generally willing to trade. I guess I’m just slightly wary of lotteries thanks to terrible luck with the event selection system (since they’ve switched to the lottery system we haven’t gotten a second event twice now. Luckily it’s all worked out in the end, but still frustrating…) I’m on a very small team and will likely be presenting chairman’s alone and probably driving, so if the times were to overlap it wouldn’t be a matter of “these people can present without me”. Since the match schedules fluctuate so much it’s really hard to even know ahead of time if there’s going to be interference.

After sleeping on it and actually reading the whole document, I do have a question:

We’ve kept pretty good record of all events we run or volunteer at on a student-by-student basis. We’ve never counted things that mentors did on their own but one of the examples for “assisted at event” is “Having a few mentors serve on a large planning committee for a FIRST Robotics Competition district event.” Are we suppose to be including mentors-only things in these statistics? I suppose we could, and break it out as a separate stat for clarity, but what do other teams do?


Mentors are part of the team, are they not? If a student went out and did something (either on their own or part of a group) while representing your team, would you count that? If so, I would say the same for mentors.

I would personally almost never count a mentor only activity in Chairman’s. That is, until now since I’m being encouraged to do so. If a mentor does something completely on their own and doesn’t involve the team, they’re not having an impact on the students in the program. The mentor may still be making an impact but Chairman’s shouldn’t be about things that have nothing to do with the team.


Interesting take, Jared. In your opinion, what is the primary differentiator between a student doing something on behalf of the team and a mentor doing something on behalf of the team with regards to awards reporting?

The way I see it when I volunteer at events or share open-source designs/software, I’m doing it for myself not on behalf of my team. That’s my own contribution unrelated to my work with my team, so it shouldn’t be included. If I volunteer at an outreach event with my team though, I’m doing that as a team “member” so that can be included. The difference in my opinion is whether I’m doing it as an individual who happens to be a mentor or as a mentor and member of a team.

On the other hand though, the time I spend volunteering at events could have been spent mentoring my team. They’re almost always meeting or competing during event times, and I would likely be there otherwise. So I can see why some people may say they’re volunteering at an event “on behalf” of their team, so it should count towards the team’s volunteering resume.

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In this case, if a singular student were to release a resource to the public or volunteer, would you count that as a team effort or the student’s individual effort? What about if it is done by a single student through their team’s efforts?

Sort of like what Ari said, if an individual does something, I don’t think this is a team accomplishment for the purpose of team-wide awards. There are lots of things which I did individually (and others on the team did individually) when I was a student which I asked not to be included in Chairman’s. Is this lessening the chances of getting the Chairman’s Award? Probably, possibly. However, I’d hate for the team to win an award which the team did not collectively earn. It’s like if only one kid made the entire robot and the team wins the event. I wouldn’t feel good about that win whether I was the one kid who did everything or part of the rest of the team that didn’t touch it.