[FRC Blog] The 2021 Judging Process

Posted on the FRC Blog, 11/24/2020: https://www.firstinspires.org/robotics/frc/blog/2021-the-2021-judging-process

The 2021 Judging Process

Written by Fiona Hanlon, FIRST Robotics Competition Program Specialist

We hope everyone is getting excited for this very different season. We released information previously about the season’s offerings here. Teams have the opportunity to compete remotely for awards amongst all of our At Home Challenges as well as the traditionally submitted awards. The process will be a little different this year and we wanted to share a little more information about the judging process, so our teams know what to expect.

At Home Challenges

The At Home Challenges are:

  • the Game Design Challenge,
  • the FIRST Innovation Challenge presented by Qualcomm , and

For each challenge, teams will be divided into groups, regardless of their location, and compete with other teams in that group (e.g. a team from Australia may be in the same group as a team from Michigan). Each group will have approximately 30 teams (range is between 25-35 teams) pending total number of teams participating. If a team is participating in multiple challenges, their group for INFINITE RECHARGE at Home, for example, may not be their group for the Game Design Challenge.

Judging of these challenges is not restricted regionally because we have no history to inform the number of teams that will compete in each challenge, and we want to avoid the possibility of groups ending up so small that awards would not be meaningful. Also, we value the mixing of teams from all over the world as is seen at some Regionals and FIRST Championship.

Additional information about the At Home Challenges will be released at the 2021 Kickoff!

Traditionally Submitted Awards

When we say “traditionally submitted awards” in the context of the 2021 FRC season, we’re talking about the Chairman’s Award, Dean’s List Award, and Woodie Flowers Award. For these awards, teams will be grouped by geographic location, as listed below. Each region will be able to award a specific number of Chairman’s Awards, Dean’s List Awards, and Woodie Flowers Finalist Awards. The exact number of awards for each region, and how that number will be determined, will be announced later.

Region Name States/Countries included in the Region
Caribbean + South American Region Brazil and Dominican Republic
Central Asia, Africa, and Europe Region Afghanistan, India, Lesotho, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, South Africa, Ukraine, and United Kingdoms
China Region China
FIRST Chesapeake District D.C., Maryland, and Virginia
FIRST Indiana District Indiana
FIRST Israel District Israel
FIRST in Michigan District Michigan
FIRST in Texas District Texas and New Mexico
FIRST Mid-Atlantic District Delaware, New Jersey, and Eastern Pennsylvania
FIRST North Carolina District North Carolina
Florida Region Florida
Greater Central Valley Region California - Central Valley/Northern Central California
Greater Los Angeles Region California - Orange/Los Angeles/Inland Empire
Greater San Diego Region California - San Diego
Greater San Francisco Bay Region California - Greater San Francisco Bay Area/Northern CA Coast
Illinois Region Illinois
Mexico Region Mexico
Midwestern Plains Region Iowa, Nebraska, and Oklahoma
MoKan Region Kansas and Missouri
NE FIRST District Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont
New York & Quebec Region New York and Quebec
Ontario District Canada - Ontario
Pacific Northwest District Alaska, Oregon, and Washington
Pacific Region Australia, Chinese Taipei, Hawaii, Indonesia, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, and Vietnam
Peachtree District Georgia
Rocky Mountain Region Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Utah, Western Canada, and Wyoming
Southeastern Region Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi
Southern Appalachian Region Kentucky, South Carolina, and Tennessee
Southwestern Region Arizona and Nevada
Turkish Region Turkey
Upper Midwest Region Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota
Upper Ohio River Region Ohio, West Virginia, and Western PA
Wisconsin Region Wisconsin

This region-based approach for traditionally submitted awards differs from the approach to the At Home Challenges because we have a history with these awards and believe a sufficient number of teams will submit to keep the awards meaningful, even in the smallest regions. Also, the Chairman’s Award and Dean’s List Award are best judged locally among local competitors.

Within a few weeks of the submission portal closing, Judge Advisors (JAs) will randomly assign participating teams to interview time slots. They will contact teams via email to notify them accordingly (if a team cannot accommodate their assigned slot, they should let the JA know so it can be rescheduled).

Teams can find additional info on the interview process and submission info here!

Virtual Chairman’s Award Chat

At FIRST Championship, we typically host a Chairman’s Award Chat, an opportunity to ask questions from the experts and learn what approach other winning teams take. Due to the remote nature of our season and to allow all teams to be able to attend, we will host a virtual Chairman’s Award Chat on December 3rd, 8pm – 9:30pm ET. This call will feature Chairman’s Award Judges and Hall of Fame representatives (i.e. previous Chairman’s Award Winners, including team members who presented and won the 2019 FIRST Championship Chairman’s Award). Register today!


I wonder if it would be possible to predict this based on how many Chairman’s awards were given in 2020 over the number of teams registered in 2020 and the population of each region…

inb4 all the massive districts get a single WFFA


Inb4 our team gets put in the same group as 254, 118, 148, and 1678 and quit


My headcanon: the Everywhere Else District system was created, was just too beautiful for this reality, and was immediately balkanized.


This is just time to create fun catchy names for every not-District. But gee four California not-Districts!?


I wonder how they determined these, since it seems like every major city in California gets its own district while NYC has to share with upstate New York and Quebec. My not-District is also a bit odd… Not sure why they decided Oklahoma of all places goes with Iowa and Nebraska over Wisconsin or western Illinois.

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They ran out of connected real estate and just said “Oklahoma, you go hang out with Iowa and Nebraska”. I’ll miss the confluence of OK, NE, and IA teams in the greater region since they have brought some pretty good teams to the competition (for awards too).

I’m up for other names than MoKan. I do like Heartland for the KC regional, and it fits more than Greater KC with Eastern MO teams.

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I hope there’s some opportunity to collaborate or at least interact with other teams in our virtual competition bracket.


I’d guess team density. CA not-districts have 2 regionals each, minimum (one has 4-5 depending on exactly where the boundary is drawn), and CA regionals have a bad habit of hitting initial capacity in Round 1 or early in Round 2. There’s a LOT of teams out here!

But, there’s also a lot of teams in NY… and a lot of events… might be something to do with available RD/organizational staff. CA is fragmented a bit (it’s been split lightly for quite a while, even though there’s one core group), while IIRC there’s like 1 RD in all of NY.

I don’t know how we could possibly improve upon “Upper Ohio River Region” as a catchy descriptor for West Virginia, Ohio, and Western Pennsylvania.


WVOWP really does just roll off the tongue.


Region Upper, River Ohio…RUP ROH (Scooby Doo voice)


I propose “Not Quite East Coast But Also Not Really Midwestern Either Region”. NQECBANRME should fit well on volunteer shirts and all that.


CSAR is the best not-district, that’s why is the first of the list

I like how Ontario is labelled as Canada - Ontario, but Quebec isn’t labelled the same lol. At least makes sense why Western Canada isn’t, it has Canada in the second half, but still funny


Does anyone want to do the math to see how many teams (either using 2020, 2021, or both counts) are in each region?


These are not real geographic boundaries…lol. You’d think that if they were going to quietly announce that California will soon be split into four districts, they’d at least split them up by county.

My guess is that they meant something like this, but honestly, I’m confused

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That top line should be mostly North-South instead of East-West, I think. Running it down the east side of the light blue section makes more sense from what they described, and continue it north past wine country–and if they tried to put SLO with LA there’d be a near-riot, at least from a couple of teams. Kern may or may not feel the same way but the travel’s easier up towards the Central Valley for them.

The SoCal lines are about right, I think.

So notionally…
GCVR includes CVR and Sacramento regionals
GLA includes LA, LAN, OC, Ventura, and AV regionals
GSD includes SD and Del Mar regionals
GSFB includes SFR, SVR, and Monterey Bay.

Incidentally, most of that yellow-ish area at the top and the orange area on the right doesn’t have many FRC teams (and, for that matter, those areas aren’t particularly densely populated). It’s the dark blue (x2), light blue, and green that have all the teams…

Oklahoma isn’t even close to “Midwest”, more like “Mid-South” or “Great Plains” - but I guess this could almost be “old Big 8 conference.” Better than where the NBA puts us, I guess (NW). :grinning:

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