Time for a Scouting Award--Eagle Scout???

FIRST offers a number of awards, and sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference between some of them. Yet there’s no recognition of innovative or outstanding scouting approaches. Yes, good scouting usually leads to wins, but so does good engineering design. And scouting often requires STEM skills.

FIRST already seems to ignore scouting, making the task of acquiring data more difficult than needed and not providing set aside seating for scouts who have to peer around pom poms and giant numbers. It’s time for FIRST to acknowledge that scouting can be an important part of team success–certainly more than team spirit. In fact many of the skills used for scouting are just as applicable in the real world as engineering (surprise!).

So FIRST, what do say??::safety::

I would love love love this. But the problem is how do you quantify scouting success/what merits the award.


To me, the benefits of good scouting manifest themselves through quality picks and a successful alliance.

Should we also have an award for “best drive team?” I’d think not, because this is already a component of a winning alliance.’

Edit: then again, other awards could be said to be “redundant” on this line of reasoning as well. So maybe this deserves an award of its own!

Completely agree with your points - FIRST would to well to take scouting more seriously, and better exposure to match data and easier seating for scouts would be fantastic.

This would be a nightmare to judge. Judges are recruited from the professional world. Often, they have never seen an FRC competition or know what FIRST is prior to walking into the first judges’ meeting. When they judge things like machine design, they’re drawing on their knowledge base and generally have a good grasp on mechanical/electrical/computer systems. Other judges are recruited for their expertise in things like business planning or social awareness.

IMHO, to judge this would require a panel of judges who are intimately familiar with scouting practices, ranking systems, and how scouting fits in to the competition.

Also, I think the creativity award has been given to teams who have a unique scouting system, as this falls under “strategy.” There is also the Judges Award if judges feel the team deserves special recognition for their scouting system.

The Scouting Award exists. It’s called “Championship Winner”.

Stay tuned in to CD after championships, I may have something in the works (for the championship level only). No promises though.

I could see a scouting award.

Like a lot of other aspects of teams, there are those that take their scouting to the “next level” in a variety of ways. I remember a team (I think it was Millerbots) at North Star Regional that had a live display of their scouting data in their pit using Tableau at all times. They may not have won the tournament, but they sure had the best scouting by far. I would have loved to see their innovative methods get recognized officially.

OK, so which of you is volunteering to write up the details of how this award is to be judged? We can work out the funding later.

We are FIRST, you are FIRST. So, what do you say?


Personally I think an actual award for scouting would be pointless. Like MechEng83 said, judges would have to be experienced and have a lot of prior knowledge. Plus it would be a nightmare to determine what criteria makes for a good scouting team/strategy. Not to mention it would be mostly the same from year to year. Each game, regardless of how complex/simple/etc requires an easy way to input data, a good way to compile it, etc etc. Although scouting is a vital part of any successful team, it shows itself not through its own award but combines with a good robot to yield results.

However I do think FIRST should be more helpful to scouters. Dependent on seating of course, each event may set aside x number of seats per team for scouts. Of course it may not work like this all the time - 503 had seven or eight people involved in scouting at any one time this season, times even forty teams is way too much - but even a section for scouts would be so helpful. Also, I’m not sure that all or even most teams scout, so that would help to reduce the number of people in the scouting section. Regardless, I think many would agree FIRST should make its match data available for download. It would be so much easier for scouts if they were able to compile data that includes most of the things automatically tracked by FIRST (mostly WLT records, and assist points this year) in combination with scouting observations.

I’m a professional economist. I use many of the methods used in scouting in my daily work. In fact for many in the financial world, this is their daily task. Operations research (for you engineers) uses these techniques as well. If you’ve seen or read “Moneyball” you’ve seen good disciplined scouting in action. Both raising the awareness of scouting and recruiting judges from a wider array of technical fields should broaden the appeal of FIRST.

1983 Skunkworks similarly used Tableau and has been pushing innovation in their scouting system. 971 has a rigorous successful system too.

I will if FIRST decides to create this award.

I don’t think this is much different from the Engineering Excellence, Creativity or Innovation in Control Awards. All of those contribute to team success just as much as scouting (unless you think that scouting is EVEN more important, in which I can use that to lord it over our drive coach!!! :smiley: ) Should we drop those awards because they lead directly to success on the field? Scouting should be put on par with those other critical elements.

Judges don’t need to be experienced in scouting–they need to be experienced in strategic development, statistical analysis, data management, information presentation, and team management. All of these are used by real-world professionals. Remember the success of “Moneyball?” That was about how scouting and strategy made more out of the resources a team had. The public “got it” based on how well the movie did.

BTW, I think a set of potential sponsors are innovative financial investment firms that hire applied math graduates to develop detailed investment models. A whole new population that FIRST has almost no contact with now.

It sounds like you want this award to be a “statistical analysis” award. That is certainly an important part of of scouting and would promote the often neglected “M” in STEM, but so is boots on the ground (or rather, eyeballs on the field), creating a robust data entry system, picking the right selection criteria (how do you judge what is right for this?), and hosts of qualitative information. Does this all become part of the award?

Don’t get me wrong, I think scouting is an invaluable part of having a successful run in a tournament, but the effectiveness of a scouting system might not be visible until after alliance selections, at which point awards are (usually) decided and scripts have been written.

Which of you have intentionally brought up your scouting system to judges before? Most judges afford you the opportunity to talk about anything interesting they might not have directly asked you about, so it’s possible for you to inform them about the dilligence or innovations in your scouting system, and how it impacts your strategy/performance. If it impressed them enough, it could very well had tied into a “Judge’s Award” or even a couple technical awards you were already being considered for (namely Quality or Creativity).

I can see some potential difficulties for a scouting award - chief among them the fact that the scouts are (for the most part) in the stands, not in the pits where the judges are!

But to be productive towards the concept of creating such an award, here are my thoughts:

  • Recruit judges from local sport organizations. Those organizations, be it professional or college, have scouting programs of their own. They scout prospective recruits. They scout upcoming opponents. They collect and collate a wealth of information in order to make the decisions they need to make, and someone like that would be an ideal candidate for judging scouting in FRC. Further, it would help us, as a program, reach out into the existing sports world to become better known.
  • Look for how a team uses its scouting data. Is it only for alliance selection? Is it used to determine strategy for elims? Is it used the entire competition to determine strategy for every match? Is it used to send students to learn more about efficient, excellent designs?
  • Look for how a team uses their scouting data/system for outreach. Is information available to other teams? Do they participate in a multi-team scouting approach? Do they have information on their system (or even a blank copy of the system) available for other teams?
  • Look for the quality of product produced. Are they setting a clear separation of qualitative versus quantitative data? What sort of data are they gathering, and how do they sum it up to create something usable?
  • Look for efficiency in the scouting process. What has the team done over the past few years to make the process easier and more reliable? How many people does it take to scout a single match, and why does it take that many?

There are many approaches to scouting out there, and many different systems. There are strengths and weaknesses for all of them. Having an award that celebrates scouting could help increase awareness of the need for this data amongst younger teams, and provide an incentive for older teams with established scouting programs to reach out and bring everyone up to speed.

I absolutely agree that that other elements must be included as well (e.g., team management), as well as innovative data entry systems, communicating to the drive team during competition. There are ways of converting qualitative data into fairly rigorous quantitative data that gets a team down to just a couple of judgments. All of these can go into a scouting award.

To be honest, there are many long-time sports fans who could quickly pick up on which of the scouting systems are most successful. I’ve only been with a robotics team for 3 years, but I brought my interest in other sports statistics to improve our scouting system. I could walk around in the stands (which I don’t think judges do for any other award–I think team spirit is judged from the field) and pretty easily assess which teams have good scouting systems. I think the award should in particular look for innovative and rigorous systems that could be duplicated by other teams. Truly this would be no more difficulty than judging creativity or engineering excellence (and once in a while I wonder why those teams win an award after watching them as a scout…:wink: )

I absolutely agree with Jon’s assessment and points. Getting the judges into stands might connect them with more team members.