What did FIRST do Right or Wrong at Detroit Champs?

After FIRST’s first year at the Cobo Center and Ford Field, let’s reflect on what went well or poorly from a logistical standpoint.

One thing that I was thankful for right away was the shorter walking distance between the stands and the pits, though having the same walkways for robots and people caused major congestion issues some points.

I HIGHLY encourage you and others to write FIRST directly and provide your feedback to their surveys… As Frank once said, we (teams) are their customers. Without us, they wouldn’t be FIRST.

Overall I thought FIRST did a great job the the first year. There were obviously some bugs including load in/out, bathrooms, and limited practice fields, but to paraphrase JVN, it’s all fixable.

I would love for Detroit to be treated as a different event than Houston. I understand that they want a consistent experience at both events, but announcing the same information at closing ceremonies in Detroit, and basically following the same closing ceremony script as Houston doesn’t actually accomplish this. Detroit closing ceremonies felt cheapened to me by the fact that I had already seen it. I probably won’t watch closing ceremonies at Houston next year so everything is fresh (or at least as “fresh” as a closing ceremony can be) in Detroit.

I want to point out the the S.A.F.E. Security team that ran security was awesome. Every interaction I had with any member of that team was amazing. Lines for Ford Field went extremely quickly. As a result, I think it would be very doable to bring the entire Einstein Round Robin to Ford Field. That would make closing ceremonies worth everybody’s time, and it would cut out the weird double break before and after the Einstein Round Robin. I really hope the reasoning behind not doing so isn’t to keep things consistent between Houston and Detroit. It would suck for the extra sensitive security team in Houston to ruin things for both Champs events. Ford Field is an amazing venue and it deserves a bigger portion of the event.

The viewing of the Einstein Round Robin in Cobo was sub par. The best way to solve that would be to host it in Ford Field. Assuming that portion of the event is still in Cobo (a fair assumption :frowning: ) an easy way to make things more viewer friendly would be to leave a gap between the fields by not using adjacent fields. That would give more people the ability to crane their necks to see robots on the field… again the right answer to this problem is Ford Field.

Volunteers were treated exceptionally well. The food wasn’t as good as it was in St. Louis, but as a broke college kid I’m not in a position to complain about free food. Alumni were also treated incredibly well which was a huge step in the right direction. Inviting alumni to champs as special invited guests was an awesome way to recognize alumni. I casually spoke with Don Bossi for 30 minutes as an Invited Guest which I thought was super cool. Alumni are the primary value that FIRST provides society, so it only makes sense to treat involved alumni well.

I have to say the biggest disappointment for me in Detroit had absolutely nothing to do with FIRST. I was very disappointed by the service in establishments in and around the city. I never got anything from the food trucks, but I heard they were great despite long waits at times. I went to 5 restaurants throughout the week and 4 of those experiences were the worst 4 experiences I’ve had in a restaurant. I’m talking waiting times of 90 minutes for burgers in an establishment that wasn’t even full… but the waiter/waitress said “it would be right out” and 20 minutes after that we had to leave just to make it back for the round robin in time. They put the food in to-go boxes, but forgot to give us all the food… we almost missed the big show because of an almost 2 hour wait for a few burgers and a grilled cheese sandwich. We had a separate incident where our hotel rooms were given away despite us having them reserved with a confirmation number. The manager gave them away at 1PM but didn’t bother to let us know with a phone call… instead he/she left a post-it note on the board that our rooms were gone and we didn’t find out until 7:30PM after we had gone back to the hotel for the night. I definitely never had similar experiences during any of our 3 visits to St. Louis.

But to close out on a positive note, Detroit was a great experience for 4607’s students which is really all that matters to me. As long as they continue to be inspired by attending Champs, all the problems slip to the back of my mind. Being Curie division finalists certainly didnt hurt the inspiration factor… we have our work cut out for next year. With increased performance comes increased expectations… we’re looking forward to working hard to get back to Detroit next year.

Not enough practice fields

Can’t agree more. Wait times ranged from 30 minutes to an hour for the half fields, tethered fields, and wireless fields. The only time where we were able to get back to back practice time was during lunch when everyone was on break (except for our drive team :frowning: ) Although St. Louis also had 2 full competition sized practice fields and a bunch of half fields, it would’ve been nice if they would’ve given us more options in terms of the practice fields at Detroit.

Seconding this. They were fantastic, and I also want to highlight that every experience I had with the staff at Cobo Center was also positive. The experience of using Cobo Center felt very well run and professional from the venue staff.

As someone who has both an FTC and FRC team, and was volunteering all week at FTC, I appreciated so much that the pits and fields were so close together, after two years of dealing with the horrendous set up in St. Louis. I was able to actually spend a significant amount of time with both my teams, which would have been previously impossible to do.

Really, the bathrooms were the only major negative experience I had at Cobo-- and there’s already a thread about that. I’m not sure what the correct solution to this issue is, but it felt like we had to be in violation of some sort of ordnance or code for how few bathrooms were available to so many people.

I didn’t attend in person, but I thought the live streams were great, and the Einstein finals video was much better than at Houston (full field main view).

In addition to there not being enough practice fields, which honestly wasn’t the worst thing in the world after experiencing how NE FIRST ran the district championship with its 5-hour waits for sharing a quarter(!) practice field, I think the biggest failure was that they were disassembled on Friday.

A practice field on Saturday would have been helpful to test how our alliance’s autonomous routines work together, and I can’t imagine I’m the only one with that opinion.

Practice fields open during elims also gives a silver lining to being eliminated, which is that you get extra time to work on autonomous.

There’s already a thread about it, but I’ll say it here.
Since I wasn’t at the event,
The Full Field Camera Views Were Great.

Mostly praise for the event, yes some kinks to work out or consider different solutions.
Food for us was spectacular. Box lunches are box lunches but our dinners were terrific due to exceptional planning by our travel coordinator. We had a Pizza place give us a 15%discount one night. Another restaurant, famed for their “sliders" fed the team (~40) for free.
We were treated well by the people of Detroit, looking forward to next year.

Consider a low tech solution to randomized pits: Hang signs at the end of each curtain with team numbers. Format up to you. Not that much different from directories posted in office buildings.

This was the biggest problem to me and I agree that the right answer is to move the round robin to Ford Field. Viewing at Ford Field was great and definitely gave that “Championships” feel.

Jared brought it up in another thread, but it’s worth repeating here:

RSN should be doing all of the Einstein match analysis.

Also, less than an hour between Einstein finals matches would be preferable.

Me and my brother joked that we couldn’t tell what was worse; The wait times for the practice field, or the wait times at Disney World.

Overall, I felt the event went better than I was expecting. I was concerned about a lot of things, and I think FIRST did a really good job of taking care of most of them.

Practice fields:
Possibly move the vendors over to the FTC blank space area, and have an additional set of practice field set-ups. I think half fields for tuning Auton, and practicing climbs are really what is most desirable. While moving FRC field over to the FTC area would be seen as incringing on their event. Having the vendors in that space might be a good compromise. Then possibly 4 half fields could be set up for teams to run Autons.


Match analysis:
I talked with a couple of folks that were doing the event, and realized a difficult challenge they have related to that analysis. While they can give some specific details, they have to stay vague enough to not swing advantage one way or another. This is not so during the Qual rounds as the exact alliances will not face off against one another. This is also not true for the MSC special as it would require folks listening online while at the venue to pick up those tidbits.
It is an interesting conundrum for those doing the analysis where on the fly, they can discuss some details, but not too much. The Round Robin actually lends itself better as the exact same pairing are not facing off, so there is less “coaching” opportunities there.
While a lot of folks thought this game was void of strategy, I will say that there was a lot of small and tactical items that could make a big difference, especially at high level of play. Pointing out those tactics jeopardizes the team from being able to use them to their advantage again.


Bi-divisional awards:
I liked that they did the Saturday Morning. I would have liked if they would have been able to tweak them a bit to make them feel a little grander. I am not sure what to do here, but a small tweaks would be nice.


Round Robins:
These were incredible matches to watch from a back and forth. These matches were somewhat difficult to watch from vantage point. They also seemed to miss the feel of “Einstein”.
It might be worth looking at splitting them out 1 more space, IE using the 2nd and 5th fields with a two field gap in the center to possibly set up some sort of stage.
While these matches do feel like they should occur “in the dome”, the logistics of moving 24 teams is quite a bit larger than moving 8. I heard this was the big impediment to doing that style of format.


Like I said, overall, I was really happy with the event and thought all involved did a really great job. With a few tweaks, it could be even more amazing next year.

The only negative experience we had beyond the ones that have already been mentioned is when a 12 year old walked away from his family members. As a couple volunteers and team members scattered to try and find him, we asked a volunteer to request that pit admin make an announcement to get his attention. He had been missing for 20 minutes.

Pit Admin refused. They told the volunteer that they were not allowed to make personal requests over the PA system. I’d like to think this was a simple case of misunderstanding FIRST’s intentions to prevent requests about pneumatic fluid and left handed wrenches. That said, for a competition that has one customer base and claims safety is crucial, the refusal to help find a missing child was infuriating.

I watching the live feed of the awards, speeches, and finals matches at Ford Field online.

I was surprised that the audio feed unintentionally included “hot mic” comments/noises that could be heard during the speeches on the main stage.
I would think that there would be a way to shut off all the microphone feeds, except the one that should be on at the time.

I was hoping that no one blurted out anything inappropriate while not knowing that they could be heard.

Awards did seem to be a bit lackluster, not sure how to best improve.

Maybe my hearing but I had a difficult time with announcements from “other” fields. This was throughout the event, not specific to Sat.

Round Robin fields further apart seems wise to improve views for more teams/people.

Overall FIRST did Detroit right.

I have been to both the inaugural Houston (2017) and Detroit Champs, and wanted to add a few items that haven’t already been mentioned:

  1. I enjoyed the Welcome Party at Ford Field more than the one in Houston. Maybe it was an “energy” thing where you could see everything happening around the stadium floor while also being able to grab a seat when necessary, but Detroit seemed to really project more excitement. Houston felt a lot more like I was standing around in food truck lines all night in the heat/humidity outdoors.

  2. FIRST had some interesting activity setups dispersed throughout Detroit which made the much longer walk pretty enjoyable. Also, I seemed to find myself in the midst of thousands of FRC participants at the GM Center during lunch, and think GM missed an opportunity here to embrace that.

  3. The Innovation Fair in Detroit was much smaller than in St. Louis and Houston (was this just a perception or were there truly less companies and colleges present??).

  4. Loved the in-line field setup in Detroit (compared to 2017 Houston) and the constant action in the Einstein round robin by running on 2 fields at once. The round robin was incredibly exciting and made Finals a disappointment by comparison.

  5. Finals and closing ceremony – so much dead time, repeated announcements, I just wish there was something unique announced there vs what we’d already heard watching Houston. Ford Field is a great venue to watch matches but we were sitting there in front of a huge empty space between the FTC and FRC arenas. I felt like there could have been additional forms of entertainment besides 30 minutes of watching Dean Kamen throwing t-shirts to the crowd

Only an hour? At one point we sat in line for 90 minutes. The only times we felt like we were able to go to the field were when we had a 2+ hour break between matches.