FRC Blogged-2013 Championship Pros & Cons

http://www.usfirst.org/roboticsprograms/frc/blog-2013-championship-pros-and-cons

I have so much to talk about regarding Championship! I’m going to break this in to two sections – pros and cons. These aren’t comprehensive lists, but are more along the lines of what I consider to be highlights.

Pros

  • **Conference attendance **
    increased from about 1400 last year to over 2600. The fact that conferences were free this year probably helped. I think this increase is great – the more information we can get to teams to help them improve their experience, the better.
  • **No wireless issues. **
    The changes the FRC Engineering staff made to the wireless system, along with the new robot radio, led to robots connecting quickly and without interference. In addition, we had experts from Qualcomm monitoring the fields, including Einstein, who reported no issues or suspicious activity.
  • **Release of preliminary match schedules. **
    While the schedules didn’t have as many matches as teams would have liked (see the ‘Negative’ on this below), releasing them early seemed to work. It was fortunate that we had no last minute changes to the schedules, but at this time we plan to release these preliminary schedules again next year. (Preliminary)
  • Moving some awards to the Divisional level.
  • A number of ‘Inside baseball’, Einstein-specific items
    that most teams probably don’t care about, but made things better:
  • Practice matches for Einstein teams so the teams and staff could make sure the robots were ready to go when it mattered
  • A new Einstein layout with specific pit spaces for Divisional alliances, a well-defined and monitored perimeter, and a riser for folk behind the scoring table so we could more easily see what was going on
  • An FRC staff member assigned as ‘Einstein Team Liaison’. Her only job after the Divisional matches were complete was to make sure the Einstein teams were comfortable and were getting everything they needed to perform their best.

Cons

  • The manual disc count verification requirement led to a situation in which a scoring error was made on Einstein
    . It was corrected, but caused significant pain for the teams involved. I will have more details about this particular incident later. We will be working hard to have the most accurate scoring systems we can for 2014 and beyond.
  • Only eight qualification matches for teams
    , which led to many teams feeling they did not get enough play time and wondering if final rankings accurately reflected team ability. Teams pay a great deal of money to attend Championship, and we want them to have as positive an experience as possible with all aspects of the event, including the competition portion. This, too, will be a focus for 2014 and we are already exploring options.
  • Seats, seats, seats.
    This was the number one complaint to Pit Admin, by far. With 100 teams per division, it was hard to accommodate all teams with decent seats. This lead to running, pushing, saving seats (against the rules, by the way. See Section 4.14 in the FRC Administrative Manual), occasional serious ugliness between teams, and general dissatisfaction. My expectation is that everyone will be courteous, but I recognize that if there is a limited resource and too much demand, some people will feel pressured to act in a way that maximizes their personal interests at the expense of others.* We will be looking at options to improve this situation next year. There was one other thing that was happening, though, that I believe was beyond the pale, and that was non-handicapped individuals sitting in seats reserved for the handicapped. There is no circumstance in which this is acceptable behavior.
  • Closing ceremonies were too long.
    FRC will be working with the other departments in FIRST to do what we can to make the Closing Ceremonies more snappy, and end them on time – or early! We know the long closing ceremony also had a significant impact on teams’ experience of the FIRST Finale.

As I say above, these are the highlights in my mind. There certainly are more positives and more negatives but, again, this is a summary of the highlights.

I’ll blog again soon.

Frank

*Tragedy of the commons (Tragedy of the commons - Wikipedia). Not an exact analogy, because seats aren’t ‘depleted’ like a natural resource can be, but similar.

Merrick for Emperor of FRC

Hire the man already!

All that and not one mention of paper airplanes! :yikes:

I am glad they recognize the scoring issues. We have video evidence that suggests our first elimination match was underscored by about 20 teleop points for our alliance, resulting in a loss.

I don’t mind the loss so much as the black cloud that throws over every match that was closely scored this year.

Those scoring systems absolutely MUST work. There were a number of matches that were nail-biters, right up until the final score was put up and there was a 20-30 point differential in teleop points. You could hear the negative reactions and people saying “What just happened?” every time something like that occured: especially the parents who hadn’t been dealing with it all year.

I suggested to FRC that they should microchip all the game pieces with unique identifiers and count them in that manner. That’s just one method - hopefully they figure out a better system for 2014.

http://www.usfirst.org/roboticsprograms/frc/blog-2013-championship-pros-and-cons

http://www.usfirst.org/sites/default/files/uploadedImages/Robotics_Programs/FRC/Events/2013/CMP/CMP_pits.jpg

That’s our pit! :slight_smile:

I think they’ve pretty much hit the nail on the head here and it’s good to see they’re listening to our concerns and feedback and trying to improve it for next year. I think the answer to the number of matches and seating may have to be fewer teams. 400 teams is impressive and inspiring, but really it’s at the heart of those problems. Still though, I’m now more confident than ever that they’ll be able to find fitting solutions.

One of the ideas I had was to add score keeping positions for people to stand behind the glass during the match (maybe around 2 or so), make sure there aren’t irregularities and to make the official count. The way I understand it now, the scoring is done by field reset people. I feel like field reset is already pretty burdened (especially this year with the large amount of game pieces and complexity of set up).

If FIRST dedicates 5 referees to take away points from an alliance (or giving points to the opposite alliance) why not take another two or so people and give them the task of making sure the points an alliance earned is correct. I’m sure it’s a different situation for every year’s game but it wouldn’t be bad for them to have such an option in their back pocket.

That is partially correct. They were ‘field reset’ by title, but they did not do ‘field reset’ during matches. Instead, they were 100% just counting during the matches, and then doing ‘field reset’ in the sense of picking up discs and stacking them between matches. At least that is how it was done at most regionals and championship.

Thanks, Frank. I agree with Ed.

Andy

…and who are WE to argue with Ed and Andy? :smiley:

.

They did. I did this at the Central Valley Regional. There were 3 of us behind the drivers during the match. Each one of us kept our eyes on a goal. After auton, we recorded the number of discs scored. And in teleop we counted and recorded that number at the end as well. It helped to have the auton score written down (not only because we needed to for an accurate score) but because, if we lost track during counting, we could just count the amount of discs in the goal total at the end and subtract the number from those scored in teleop!

“Closing ceremonies were too long. FRC will be working with the other departments in FIRST to do what we can to make the Closing Ceremonies more snappy, and end them on time – or early! We know the long closing ceremony also had a significant impact on teams’ experience of the FIRST Finale.”

I know it’s already been brought up, but I feel that the manner in which the awards were presented wasn’t as exciting as in the past. It is really a shame that they didn’t make a bigger deal about Chairman’s and I was bummed we didn’t get to see their video at the event*.

Overall, Frank’s highlights are spot on and the Championship event was a lot of fun!

*1538, HOLY COW’s Chairman Video :slight_smile:

More to the point who are we to **disagree **with Ed and Andy?

This is a huge deal. If they want to call it their most prestigious award, they should maybe act like it. The lack of a video, the short speech, it was outrageous. I don’t know if it was intentional or a terrible mistake, but please, never again.

If you want to get a good idea of how little respect the Chairman’s award is treated by FIRST you should’ve checked out what passed for the Hall of Fame. It was actually better than previous years but hardly adequate.

By “previous years” I’m sure you mean 2012 and 2011, as it was quite large prior to that.

I’m talking about since we’ve been to St. Louis.

Frank for Emperor. Someone should make a poster.

-Nick

I strongly commented on this in the championship survey sent out to teams.

This was one of the comments I put into the mentor surveys.

The hall of fame needs to be along the side of the hallway going into the main entrance of the pits, or JUST inside the door so that every single visitor walks by those displays. This is the highlight of FIRST, the best, and the most celebrated. Treat them like it.

I too was amazed at the off-hand way that Chairman’s was announced. It was almost incidental. Whereas the repeated introduction of the chairman of Coca-Cola was filled with pomp and circumstance each and every time he was introduced. There was more time given to each of the sponsors during the matches on Einstein than was given to the Championship Chairman’s Award team. Not even playing their video was beyond my ability to comprehend… and then to waste the time between matches on Einstein with dancing and music instead of inserting those more appropriate recognitions there was something that just made no sense.

I recognize that we want to recognize our sponsors for all that they do for us, but I thought the event was about recognition of the accomplishments of our students… not about the sponsors. The regional events that I have attended do a great job of exalting the sponsors and the teams. It was unfortunate that the championship event fell flat on that point.