Record Number of EI Award Wins

Hey CD,

I often see on here who in FIRST has won the most RCA’s, Regionals, or just Blue Banners in general.

However, I was wondering which team holds the record for number of Engineering Inspiration Award wins.

We (Team 1305, Ice Cubed) just won our 8th at Waterloo this weekend and I couldn’t find a thread that touched on the subject.

For Chairman’s, it seems a common theme is starting and mentoring other FIRST program teams (FLL, FTC, FRC) especially in distant/remote areas.

Is there a common theme for winning EI? I’d love to hear from some if the EI winners on what they think helped win it for them. The Awards manual is very vague, and the judging process for it is a big mystery to me.

EI is the most mysterious award in FIRST.
Is it the runner up Chairman’s Award?
A souped up Gracious Professionalism award that gets you to the championships?
Is it something completely different?
I have yet to have anyone give me a straight answer about the award and how you go about getting it.

As of last year, team 141 had won 10 EI awards. See Team 358’s spreadsheet

EI is a near term RCA. RCA focuses over multiple years with emphasis on recent stuff. EI focus on this year and last year. That is the primary distinction.

I guess another distinction is RCA is judged by RCA judges, EI is judged by the pit judges.

Well that makes things a little more clear.

EI is definitely a mystery.
We have never won it at a regional level.
Only at CMPS.
We tried for CA at CMPS back in 2008, so I’m not sure how it’s decided by pit judges.

Sort of this.

In my experience EI is judged differently at different regionals. At North Star, for the past few years, it has definitely been “runner up Chairman’s” (in 2012 1816 won RCA and 2220 won EI, in 2013 2220 won RCA and 1816 won EI), while at least at Northern Lights this year, it seemed to be judged quite differently.

I’ve always been curious about the distinction, but I’m loath to say it’s as simple as that universally.

As to why it’s so ambiguous-- my guess would be that it’s intentionally made to be a flexible award so that different regionals can use it as it suits them. I may be very wrong about that (it isn’t like I have any magical insight), but that would be my best stab in the dimly illuminated room.

I don’t think the intent of EI is really to be a runners up to chairman’s, because back in 2006, the championship had both chairman’s honorable mention and EI ( It does seem that it ends up as second place chairman’s a lot of the time though. As for record numbers, has some of them.

I love that it is an award that should be sponsored by J. J. Abrams. You get it for doing the right stuff – and it’s vaguely defined so you can’t go out and try to explicitly win that award. You can’t win the Chairman’s Award without a laser focus on checking the boxes. I don’t think a team in recent memory has won the Safety Award without striving to be over-the-top in how visible their safety practices are. Very few teams accidentally win the team spirit award without making it an explicit goal.

It seems to me that if you build a sustainable winning program, EI will just kind of happen. There are no explicit requirements, but your team’s practices and attitudes will just shine through to the judges in all the right ways.

I’m not sure I totally agree with this. From what I’ve heard, the focus is on promoting the field of engineering in your team. As such it is a bit more focused on how a team has promoted the technical aspects of FIRST -the impact of engineering mentors on the team directly (college and career selection of students), the promotion of engineering careers by the team, the spread of the love of STEM to younger kids in promotion of engineering careers, that sort of thing. RCA may capture a piece of this, but is much broader in scope. RCA is about spreading the impact of FIRST which may or may not include the STEM focus.

It is judged in the pits, and may also not be as concerned with years of continuous effort. FIRST has said time and time again that is not the RCA runner up award.

I think Chairman’s is cool, but EI pays a lot better.

I have always viewed EI and Chairman’s as very different awards, although I do believe at some events it is judged as the “runner up to Chairman’s”. To me I see EI and CA teams having different… selling points I guess? To me an EI team focuses in using FIRST to inspire students for the purpose of becoming engineers. I see CA as an award for changing the world through FIRST. It is Avery subtle difference, not that EI teams aren’t changing the world as well, I just think CA focuses on your external impact and EI focuses on the internal.

In 2012 my team won EI at the Utah Regional and RCA at the Arizona Regional. When they announced us for EI, they talked about our team growth, how we design and manufactor our robots at school and how most of our mentors come from the international engineering company WL Gore. Each time we have won Chairman’s, the announcement focuses on how we are from an extremely rural area, how we provide STEM opportunities, our FIRST program growth, and how we have changed the culture in our region to one that celebrates STEM. These are obviously two very different explanations for an award, and they help outline what each award really means, at least at those events.

I can guarantee that it isn’t. Our Chairman’s feedback form said “We had you as runner up for the RCA.”

We didn’t win EI.

Here is a link of what FIRST had to say when we won the E.I award @ the NC regional this year.

The E.I. Awards starts @ 9:24:00.
They clarify what they mean with the E.I. award.
The way I see it is that it isn’t only your outreach but also building a robot that has that inspirering factor since they say that it takes passion, knowlage and insperation.
Hopefully this will help you understanding what the E.I. award is about.

Wouter Levering
Mentor of Team Rembrandts
2014 NC Regional Engineering Inspiration Winner
2013 NC Regional Rookie All Star Winner

We won EI in 2010, our third year. I think we won because we had done something fairly innovative (and absolutely necessary on our rural island) - brought students from all 4 high schools together to form a team, when the two individual teams were folding (or at risk of folding) due to various issues. We managed to find a solution that enabled our students to continued to be inspired, and we also brought a basic understanding of what engineering is and what degree and career paths there are in the STEM fields to many students who really had no idea.

That is why I think we won it. Our robot was OK, but we finished middle of the pack on Newton so definitely not world-class.

There are distinct things being discussed here.

The ways it is judged
Varies by event. I’ve seen it judged as:

  • Chairman’s Award Runners-Up
  • A regular award on the level of Imagery, etc., for the “Culture Change” subset of Chairman’s
  • An award similar to and on or near the level of CA, given to a team that didn’t compete for CA (happens at MSC pretty often, e.g. 27 last year)

I believe that rsisk said above about the near-term/long-term is true… simply because I trust him. Some judges may see it that way as well.

The way it should judged
I’m totally fine with either the 2nd or 3rd interpretations above, but it’s pretty obviously inconsistently judged which is not good. It should NOT be a CA Runners-Up Award. Frankly, that cheapens what is a great award in its own right.

As for who’s won it the most, 141 now has 11, since they earned an additional one after “10” was stated above (according to FIRST).

After being involved in the FIRST community for a good 8 or 9 years, I’ve seen judging of the award go either way. While EI is often seen as the runner up to Chairman’s, it has different judging criteria. From what I’ve seen, EI has to do solely with how you do with STEM Education, careers, and how you promote FIRST while Chairman’s has to do with how you give back to the community, how you support yourself and other teams and how you are a role model as well as all of the EI criteria. Our team has only won EI twice. Both in 2013 when we got it at FIM Grand Blanc and FIM State Championship

I was informed by Jason Reese this weekend in conversation about the award that FIRST does not issue Blue Banners for winning EI. I was wondering why that is since it is a golden ticket to the championships like the Chairman’s award. Should it not be treated with similar respect?

They do hand out a banner for those who win the EIA at CMP. We accomplished that in 2007. You can actually order banners for any award but then you have to factor in what could possibly be worth the cost. For example, Team 178 is ordering banners for our 2013 Regional WFA Finalist.