"Out of the box" Exhibition

What about an Out-of-the-box Exhibition for first-regional teams? With all of the recent “practice/no-practice” and “one-regional/multi-regional” discussion, why not come up with an awarded activity to show how well the team robot builders did in the 6-week period. Maybe a “You did it in 6 weeks” Award … obviously called the Magnolia Efficiency Award. If you awarded a slot at the Championships for the winner, you would have a lot of folks trying to ship a running 'bot. Here would be a typical schedule at a regional.

Thursday of regional:

7:00 am: All crates are lined up behind the playing field

7:15 am: Teams take their 'bots out of the box and load the battery

7:15 am: Two at a time (one on each end), the teams take the field for 2 minutes and show what their 'bot can do out of the box. This will also be a chance for the regional to check-out and troubleshoot the field. With 40 first-regional teams, this will take about 40 teams /2 at-at-a-time x 5 minutes per exhibit (2 min run + 3 min set-up) = 100 minutes. Basically, everyone would be done by 9:00.

After exhibition - about 9:00 am: Multi-regional teams can get their robots from the field.

9:00 on: Business as usual

What do you think? I bet the stands would be full of people who wanted a first-look at everyone’s creations. Also, this would be a great time to scout.

Just an idea,

You know, I really do like this idea.

7:00 AM might be a little early, as I believe at that point only three team members are allowed in. However, I could see the case being argued for, say, one practice match per team to be sacked for such a thing. (The exact timing I don’t know.)

One thing–can anyone tell us how many teams are having their first regional at the later competitions, like Palmetto?

Sometimes teams don’t ship their robots in one piece. I know we have built our bot and made sure it was working, then broken it into 2 or 3 pieces so it fits in the shipping crate easier.

That’s true.

…perhaps fifteen minutes to reassemble your robot? (I’d imagine that GP would dictate to most that improvements wouldn’t be allowed under this rule.)

If it was fully functional they could be given time to assemble the parts they’ve already finished. Our robot was 100% finished when it got shipped. Some small things had to be adjusted because the robot got a little loose spending a few weeks in that crate.

Okay, so here is where I get to fulfill my duties as “Curmudgeon.” I really don’t like this idea (sorry, Lucien!), and for a few reasons:

  • Thursday at any regional competition is invariably hectic enough. Between getting the robot out of the crate, assessing it for damage during shipping (a frequent occurence), making scouting assignments for team members, setting up the pit area, getting ready for the practice sessions, tracking down the lost shipment that included our tool chest, finding out that someone left the keys for the tool chest back in the shop at home, finding a pair of bolt cutters to cut off the lock from the tool chest that has keys in the shop back home, and about a million other little items, the last thing most of us need is one more item to suck up valuable practice time on Thursday.

  • Ogre’s comments regarding shipping the robot in multiple parts is right on target. Many teams partially disassemble their robots to enable them to pack it better, and reduce the chance of shipping damage (see prior point). Reassmbling them may not be a 15-minute effort (e.g. see this post). Under the suggested scheme, they would be penalized for taking very reasonable and rationale steps to protect their robot.

  • The only awards that are worthy of earning a slot at the Championships are the Competition Champions, the Regional Chairmans Award, and the Regional Engineering Inspiration Award. These are “very big deal” awards. I can’t see an “Out of the box” award, as described, being anywhere near as significant as the big three. Attempting to put the “Out of the box” award up at the same stature level of the Regional Chairmans Award would just diminish the value and prestigue of the existing awards. I would be massively, hugely, significantly, seriously against this.

  • The regional event staffs work their butts off getting the field ready in time as it is. It is almost never completely ready until the very moment that the teams start to take the field to practice, and that is not likely to change. There is virtually no way that the event staffs could handle things starting two hours earlier at 7:00am. So the only way this could be done would be to move the entire event schedule back two hours (and I would challenge that number as well), and make the day go even longer. Based on the typical level of frustration, exhaustion, confusion, and exhiliration at a typical competition Thursday evening, making the day two (or more) hours longer is about the worst thing that could be done to the participants.

  • FIRST has made it pretty clear that teams that choose to build a second robot and practice with it are allowed to do so. It is also very clear that teams are allowed to, even encouraged to, attend multiple competition events. Your past postings have made it clear that you disagree with both of these postions. OK, that is fine, no problem if you disagree with them. But recognize that the proposed “Out of the box” rules would create a whole class of teams that would be excluded from eligability. These are teams that had fully complied with all the rules and regulations stipulated by FIRST. But just because someone else doesn’t happen to like a few of those rules is not a sufficient justification for the introduction of a new award, new sets of rules, etc. and excluding teams that have done nothing wrong.