[FRC Blog] Award Updates for the 2023 Season

Posted on the FRC Blog, 9/12/2022: https://www.firstinspires.org/robotics/frc/blog/2022-award-updates-for-the-2023-season

FIRST Robotics Competition Blog

Award Updates for the 2023 Season

Sep 12, 2022 Written by Fiona Hanlon, FIRST Robotics Competition Team Experience Specialist

With the season coming up quickly, we wanted to share some changes to judging and awards for the 2023 season.

Speaking of awards, don’t forget to check out the great award resources available on the Awards webpage such as the Inside look at the Judging Process, Practice Interview Questions, the newly updated Dean’s List Award Guide, and more!

No Remote Interviews

Last season, we allowed remote interviews to occur for the Dean’s List Award at any event as well as allowing some events to conduct all of their interviews remotely to help with pandemic restrictions. After reviewing survey data, over half of teams indicated that they did not like participating in remote interviews and that they strongly preferred in-person interviews for all awards. We also received feedback from judges, judge advisors, and Program Delivery Partners that conducting remote interviews was much more complicated and harder to implement. With this feedback in mind, we have decided to remove the option for remote interviews and all interviews will occur in person for the 2023 season.

FIRST ® Impact Award (Previously the Chairman’s Award) Feedback Form Updates

Last season, we announced that there was a change to the feedback form, and we would be providing feedback to all teams that interviewed for the Chairman’s Award (now FIRST ® Impact Award), but it would be only on the essay. We started with feedback on just the essay as we were unsure how much additional time it would take to write feedback for every team. Teams received their feedback via email from the Judge Advisor a couple days after the event. This process last season was the first step towards an improvement that would take a little extra time to implement. I am happy to share that this season, we are able to implement the additional changes.

This season, all teams that interview will receive feedback on both the interview and their submission. The feedback will answer 3 questions:

  1. An area the team has an opportunity to improve,
  2. Something that really impressed the judges, and
  3. A team submitted question (optional) – When submitting for the FIRST Impact Award, teams will see a new field allowing them to enter 1 question that judges will answer
  4. Please note that this new question may not be showing when submissions open on November 3rd. We encourage teams to not submit for this award until they see this question. We will keep teams updated via the Team Blasts if the question is not showing when the submission opens.

Teams will receive this feedback for all Regional and District Events automatically 48 hours after the event. We will share more details on where to find the feedback in the coming months.

Check out the Submitted Awards webpage for all the details on the award including the updated information on the FIRST Impact Award Feedback.

Team Sustainability Award

A few years ago, we restructured the Entrepreneurship award from a pre-submitted award due in early February to a summary business plan that teams would bring to the event. The hope was that this would allow more teams to be eligible for this award as they had more time to prepare the business plan. Unfortunately, this change was not as successful as intended as we were still seeing very few teams submit for this award, so we went back to the drawing boards to think through what else could be done.

In looking at the award and thinking through what we were trying to celebrate, we discussed how business plans are helpful to team sustainability as they assist teams in thinking through various components of their team and reflecting on their culture, goals, and needs. With this in mind, we have renamed the award, updated the award guidelines to be more focused on team sustainability, and removed the requirement to bring a business plan to the event to help ensure that every team at the event will be eligible for the award.

While a business plan is no longer required, we do still encourage teams to prepare one as it does help teams prepare to be sustainable and help recruit sponsors. Information on creating a business plan as well as example business plans can be found in Section 1.2 of the Fundraising Toolkit.

Highest Rookie Seed Award Change

The Highest Rookie Seed Award is a performance-based award that recognizes the Rookie team which was highest ranked at an event. Beginning in the 2023 season, this award will only be presented at events with more than 1 Rookie at them.

We are hopeful that with these changes, we will continue to improve the team experience. Feel free to reach out to frcteamadvocate@firstinspires.org with any questions or suggestions.

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Interesting.

I’m out of memes. This is a major emergency.

Seriously though, the focus on sustainability seems like a great change.

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While the virtual pit interviews were not my favorite, my students liked the remote Dean’s List interview format. They felt more prepared for their interview, and it didn’t disrupt their competition schedule and experience.
I also recognize that organizing and conducting scheduled online interviews is a sizable task, so I respect their decision to discontinue them.

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I had hoped we would be going the opposite direction with remote interviews. The technical interviews we gave during the IR@Home season were a great way for students to have more control over the interview process, and really highlight everything they wanted to about their robot and their process in a well prepared and controlled environment, very different from the hustle and bustle of the pits.

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When changes are made, I like that explanations are given. And a large part of the changes are due to feedback info they get from the respective groups involved.

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Being on the planning side and helping out the JA with scheduling Deans list interviews is really tough. There are only specific times they can happen, ie not on the weekends, which is tough when a team is competing the weekend before.

But being on the team side, I loved having the remote Deans list interviews. It allowed our student the time to prep and everything without the stress of the competition happening in the background.

Virtual judging was a hit or miss with everyone.

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Underrated enhancement. I love the idea of business plans, but so many teams shoot themselves in the foot and eliminate their eligibility by not creating a properly formatted document. Knowing that it’s now something that just enhances nominees is a big improvement imo

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I personally hated my remote Dean’s list interview. I wasn’t able to show them pictures or mechanisms or CAD nearly as well, I couldn’t leave source materials, and I felt like I wasn’t heard or respected. Maybe the format had nothing to do with it, but it was a fairly frustrating experience for me personally, and I’m someone who generally really likes remote meetings. I thought remote judging for IR@H was great though, but it was difficult not being able to show them the nuts and bolts of things like in the pits. Overall indifferent on the change, but understand it.

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I was a remote Dean’s List judge this year (and back in the day a Dean’s List Finalist).

I liked the remote judging as a judge in the sense that it allowed me to maximize my volunteering and do more overall. I also got to try a new role – I hadn’t done Dean’s List judging at a regional because I’m usually doing something more niche and with a greater time commitment.

As a VC for a regional, I liked remote DL judging as it allowed me to double dip on judges.

Scheduling the interviews, however, was a headache for everyone involved: VCs, JAs, students, mentors, and at times HQ.

The format was hit and miss. Some folks had a clear connection and were super comfortable with a virtual interview. Others, I could tell, would’ve been way more outgoing in-person.

Virtual judging was definitely a mixed bag and this is one of the rare times where I say I have no idea what I would’ve decided if I was in HQ’s shoes on this.

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Looking at the new Sustainability Award criteria…

  • The team has a clear concept or approach to building their team and operates as a cohesive system.
  • They proactively identified and managed risks, acquiring the assets to effectively deal with adversity as well as unexpected events.
  • They understood the goals of the competition and the mission of FIRST.
  • The team must be able to explain:
    • How the team makes decisions and divides their workload
    • How the team keeps students, mentors, and sponsors actively engaged
    • What team sustainability practices are in place
    • How they recruit and train future team members
    • How they celebrate success and document lessons learned to prevent repeating mistakes
    • How the team is funded and how the team budgets

I don’t know how you capture all of this in a brief pit interview. At least with a submitted Business Plan it was something on paper the Judges were definitely going to read.

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In terms of the Entrepreneurship/Sustainablity Award I like the new criteria. However, something seems off with the name change. It does reflect what they are celebrating - but “entrepreneurship” has a better ring to it. Sustainability - while the utmost of importance for any team - comes across as the “Best in Participation Award”.

Can you imagine a HS Robotics team getting in front of the student body at a pepfest and anounce “At our [fill in the blank] Regional, we are proud to make it to the semi-finals and we also won the Sustainability Award”… ? So… you were the best at sustaining? Just not an inspiring change in the award name.

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Honestly, I thought it was going to be environmental sustainability (which is also important! But hard to scope for an FRC award). I still think most people hearing it would reach for that definition. I agree this definition/scope seems like a hard sell to sponsors and supporters on how big a deal it is.

It seems like there’s a small migration toward award titles that are harder to pitch to sponsors/stakeholders. e.g. I like getting away from the gendered “Chairman’s” Award, but it’s not clear from the title that “Impact” is actually the top award or even a top award in the program. “Champion’s” in FLL cuts to the chase, though I understand it’s a different competition scheme.

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FIRST has long had an award name problem. Almost none of the award names carry their proper weight in FRC:

  • “Chairman’s Award” is possibly one of the worst named awards ever. It’s not descriptive, doesn’t convey the importance, uses outdated/gendered terminology, and more. The new “Impact” name fixes the descriptiveness, but does little to help convey the importance.

  • “Dean’s List” is a similarly poorly named award. It is also nondescriptive, but it gets even worse with the “Finalist” and “Semifinalist” nonsense. Someone who is nominated by their team is a “Dean’s List Semifinalist,” someone who wins Dean’s List at a regional or DCMP is a “Dean’s List Finalist,” and not until someone wins the award at the championship are they a “Dean’s List Award Winner.” Finalist vs. semifinalist makes almost no difference in things like college applications, scholarships, etc. but there’s a huge difference. We don’t do this for judged awards (if you win Chairman’s at a regional, you’re not a Chairman’s finalist, you’re a Regional Chairman’s Award Winner) so why do we do this for individual awards?

  • A lot of the “second tier” (non-qualifying) awards technically have equal weight, but the naming scheme doesn’t help. For example, “Engineering Excellence” sounds better than “Creativity.” “Gracious Professionalism” means nothing to anyone outside of FIRST and it’s on the same level as the “Team Spirit” award.

I don’t know how the awards should be named, but I think they
d benefit from being named differently.

That said, I think today’s change of the Entrepreneurship Award to the Sustainability Award is more about making a content change than a cosmetic one. By this, I mean Chairman’s–>Impact didn’t change the content of the award, just the name. Here, we’re seeing a change in content, and the name is being updated to reflect the new substance. That’s fine with me – it solves one problem without fixing the other, and I don’t think it makes the other much worse.

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That’s funny, because the students I talked to had prepared slide shows to screenshare with the judges. They could direct the judges’ attention to whatever picture, video, or passage they were showing, and the preparation calmed them and gave them a feeling of control.

It’s always interesting to me to read different experiences from similar circumstances. Another data point that supports the notion that “one size fits all” solutions don’t exist.

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Yeah. I was not allowed to do this at all, having to show pictures printed out over my camera and not being able to show CAD at all. It was quite frustrating and I wish it was handled differently, because I had virtually no control or agency, just being whisked from one question to the next.

image

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One question.

Who’s Marshal?

Two Ls. Come on. Rookie mistake.

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Maybe it’s your title, not name. :wink:

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Marshal Marshall, I’m going to need Victor’s vector.

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