Impact Award Judging and State Correlation

I have noticed over the past few years, mostly in New England, that the location of the events correlates with the state that the Impact Award (and sometimes EI) winner is from. For example, in New England last year, 8/10 teams who won the Impact Award (formerly known as Chairman’s Award) at events were from the state the event was in. As a team from Maine, we had our event in Maine canceled this year due to lack of teams willing to sign up, therefore pushing us to attend a couple out-of-state events. Each of those we have been to are either repeat Impact winners or teams from in-state. We try for Chairman’s every year, pitching all the work we have done to make southern Maine FRC relevant again. However, no matter how hard we have tried the past idk how many years, it just doesn’t seem to be enough in the eyes of the judges.

Looking at the awards schedules, the majority of teams on there are from the state the event is in (and it looks like a team from the state the event is in will win it once again).

Is there some sort of thing where the scope of a different state is unfamiliar to the judges, and therefore causes teams to have a disadvantage versus teams in the state the event is in? having talked with team members and mentors, even though we poured in so much work to make Maine great again, it seems as though it’s not enough for these judges. if there is some clarity around this, i’d like to hear it. thanks!

There is no reason that an in-state team would have a direct advantage as the standards for impact are set by FIRST and therefore the same regardless of region. For example, 4400 won Chairman’s at HPR last year and they are from Mexico.

The only implicit bias I could see happening is that if a team has an outreach program that the judges already know about, the judges don’t need to be convinced about all they do as they already have an idea. This could possibly be from a team presenting at the same regional for multiple years or more likely, a team having a very well-known outreach program. So like one of the Impact Powerhouses.

That being said, most judges (in my experience) are able to separate these opinions. Same as a judge who has friends on a team they’re judging.

I highly suggest going over the comments from the judges and adjusting your submission accordingly. Also, some areas are just very competitive for Impact. For example, SVR this year will be incredibly competitive this year as there’s many strong Impact teams competing there.

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What percentage of teams attending the events you are looking at are in that state? I’m not sure if you already considered this, but there’s a chance your forgetting that more teams will attend events in their same state and that’s why there’s more impact award winners. If not, I’d be interested to know the in state/out of state breakdown overall as well.


Team 5112 The Gongoliers from Rhode Island won Impact in Springfield Mass last week.
They had the best submission,the best presentation and Q/A of all the teams that submitted.
The submissions are read, The teams make their presentation and the judges do their Q&A. It’s a level playing field. Every team gets the same experience from the judges.
We now give more feedback than in the past. I hope the judges that saw your team gave you constructive feedback.
Some teams do not take advantage of having a mentor sitting in on the presentation. It’s important to have that feedback available to your team.


For our first event, we didn’t get any feedback from judges. We haven’t heard anything from the 2nd, as it ended today.

Feedback should be uploaded within 48 hours after the event ends. Lead Mentor 1 or 2 or the Awards Submitter can access it through the FIRST Dashboard. Instructions from the FIRST Impact Resources page.


I don’t know about any others, but at the Iowa Regional the last 5 winners have been from (Illinois, Arkansas, Iowa, Türkiye, Minnesota).

Florida Events:

Impact: 2 Florida 1 Not
EI: 2 Florida 1 Not

Impact: 1 Florida 2 Not
EI: 1 Florida 2 Not

Impact: 2 Florida

Impact: 1 Florida 1 Not
EI: 2 Florida

Considering the percentage of teams in attendance at these events who are from Florida vs Not the Not teams are over represented in our Impact and EI wins.

Also I am going to be honest it bugged me when I was a student that out of state teams would “take” Florida slots at champs but as I got older I realized the best teams at the event are the ones who (99.9% of the time) get the ticket to worlds. I am now happy for Florida teams who win spots outside of the state, and I am happy for the teams who come to Florida events and qualify here. I cheer for both equally at worlds. Shout out this year to 695, 1622, 4091, 9135, and 9284 who are not from Florida but all qualified at Florida events this year they all will kill it at champs and I really am hoping that 1622 gets the acknowledgement they deserve this year with at least an Impact Finalist.

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There are elements that can certainly go in multiple directions here.

I think the point that @z172 made regarding circumstances of particular states/areas being unfamiliar to judges could certainly have some amount of merit (especially when that locale isn’t somewhere “foreign” or “distant” in the mind of the judges). There could certainly be a level of implicit bias going on with that. However, there are at least two opportunities in the Executive Summary alone that teams can utilize to attempt to bridge these gaps and pro-actively frame their entries to appropriately impress judges. Specifically these two questions:

Describe your community along with how your team addresses its unique opportunities and circumstances.

Briefly describe other matters of interest to the FIRST Judges, including items that may not fit into the above topics. The judges are interested in learning about aspects of your team that may be unique or particularly noteworthy.

In some cases, repeatedly presenting to the same or similar judge audiences can cause those judges to become, perhaps, a bit too familiar with your efforts. I think that’s something that my team has struggled with at times, where judges are very used to our recurring efforts and if we don’t continue to push the envelope it can feel (subjectively) like we’re struggling on a treadmill at times. But that’s part of the challenge of the award.

OP, I know the stress and heartache that long toiling for this award without winning it can cause. But keep pursuing those goals, they’re worthy of pursuit even if you don’t win. As a game announcer, I’m forever indebted to 172 for making my volunteering possible without an excessive amount of hassle. If the rest of 172’s efforts are close to gatool, you will get that banner soon enough.