What would you like to see at a regional?

I am posting this on behalf of the RIT FIRST club responsible for planning parts of the Finger Lakes Regional next year at RIT. At our last meeting we decided that it would be a great use to us to find out what that first community at large is looking for to make the regional experience a pleasurable and one that will run smoothly for all teams.

So please post in this thread with the following:

things that you have seen at other regionals which you wish would be improved

ideas for fun and creative socials

special requests that would have made your regional experience better

and anything else you think might benefit our committee knowing

this information will be directly reported to the planning committee and all input will be greatly appreciated

How about…a snack bar with reasonable prices?

The regionals I’ve been to have all been awesome, I never really had much of a problem with anything except that you MUST HAVE A PRACTICE FIELD. Make plans with teams ahead of time and have them set up on the Wednesday before the regional.

<WARNING: This thread mainly deals with the Palemetto Regional cons. It was fun, but there was a lot of mistakes, errors, etc… :WARNING>

  1. Allow us to dance - I know almost (if not everyone) at the Palemetto Regional was really disgusted at the fact that they said you can’t dance. The ground wasn’t bad (I tested it before I danced). If you are going to do music and no dancing, play music you can’t dance to (come on, when you hear the cha-cha song, or the electric slide, you’re gonna wanna dance to it)

  2. Don’t shove college stuff down our throats - This is just my personal preference, but think about it. At Palemetto, the only reason it was where it was is to try to get us to go there. Everything they had (to give away) had the USC logo on it. I don’t mind hearing stuff like “Come here because we have good programs you might enjoy.” Or “This campus is a really clean campus, come join us to keep it cleaner” every now and then, but when they keep pushing us to go there, it gets really annoying.

  3. G-rated music - The regionals have been really good at playing 5-year-old music (like Avril Lavigne, Good Charlotte, etc…), but I don’t think many parents want their kids listening to straight-out unappropriate songs. Songs like “Lose Yourself” (censored), and stuff like that isn’t bad, but the skirt song at Palemetto was just not right.

  4. Score correctly - So many times there’s been a score change because of various reasons.

  5. Don’t give out penalties wrongfully - If a robot (B) pushes robot (A) into the plate, you shouldn’t give a penatly to (A). I know this probably shouldn’t be here, but should be suggested to FIRST, but it’s also the ref’s responsibility to call them fairly.

  6. Make people kneel - Not everyone, just the people that are at the walls (curtains, etc…). It’s very aggrevating trying to look on the side of someone to see match, to realize that more people are around him/her.

  7. Pick good venues - Pittsburgh, Detroit, and Palemetto had excellent venues IMO. I’d gladly goto any one of those again, but not anything like Nationals last year. I think we all know why. Another reason for me though is because I always travel from stands to pits for various reasons.

  8. Play team themes - This isn’t a big thing, but if a team has a special song for their team (like we have Beethoven’s 5th symphony), let the DJ’s play it.

  9. Variety - Play different types of music. 'Nuff said.

I’ve no idea if the teams at LSR liked it or not, but they seemed to, so here’s a bit that we did in lieu of a social:

Cheering contest to see which side got throw out gifts.
Big mascot dance number on the field.
Mascot/Team Rep shoot off for prizes. (Note, this seemed really big)
Door Prize raffle thing. (This was slow due to kids losing tickets)
Bag of Prizes anyways for each of the teams.

We’re planning other things along these lines for next year, as well.

Also, about the 2003 Nats thing, I have to comment:
We all realize that was a problem. It wasn’t necessarily a problem with the venue or the city itself, as there are ways to solve that problem. If Nats does come back to Houston, I can categorically say that it will be much better.

Make sure the pits are of decent size.

Make sure the aisles are big enough and clear to move through in the pits. At the Philly regional some of the teams kind of pushed out in the aisle and you couldn’t get past them to get to your own pit.

Make sure the crates are moved away quickly after they have been emptied. Some crates were still out at Philly until pretty late on Thursday. This also goes with the making sure the aisles are clear, it’s hard to get a robot out when there are crates in the aisle.

If there is going to be a team social, make sure that it is in a place that can keep kids busy. Idle hands are the devil’s playground. in AZ we had it in the Arizona Science Center. They had lots of hands on exibits to keep the kids busy. The science center practically paid us to have it there, they wanted to have the whole competition there but it’s not big enough.

On a more personal note, I would just like to add that you need to keep the regional friendly. The regional should still seem professional, but at the same time it should make you feel comfortable. Pick an MC, Announcer and Pit Announcer from the people in your area. Try to have fun with it. If you make it a comfortable atmosphere, when something goes wrong people can laugh it off instead of getting mad. The AZ regional did a great job and it felt like a big sleep over.

If you want an exciting competition, get an exciting announcer & MC pair. A boring pair can suck the life out of the most exciting competition. It’s best if you find people who are familiar with FIRST and the teams that are competing at the regional.

I was kinda stunned when they were playing that Tweet song. Didn’t they know what that song was about? Why not just play Cake’s “The Distance” while you’re at it. :rolleyes:[/quote]

I gave this a lot of thought after the Chesapeake Regional (which is one of the best) and sent a letter to the Regional Director. I’d be glad to share it with you by email or send you a copy snail mail. pm your address.

One of the biggest things that I can suggest is to strictly enforce the rule about radios. Last year, my team lost a match because radio interference made our robot immoble. At SoCal this year, they made an announcement on Thursday that RC Cars were not allowed, but I saw teams everywhere still driving them around on Friday and Saturday.

Also, see about getting any possible disputes about inspections handled ASAP. This year, my team placed a second battery on board as a balancing deadweight, and this was cleared by an inspector. However, just a minute before a match on Friday, the Head Inspector walked up to us and said that the second battery was illegal and had to be removed. I thus had to quickly scramble to remove the battery. Then our robot nearly tipped beacuse of the weight distribution. Had the call even been made 10 minutes before the match, we could have made a change and found another weight to put in place.

A good announcer and MC is what really makes an event. You also need a really good queing crew and queing announcer. Last, make sure the video screen is big, bright, and focused. It was hard to see the numbers of the teams oneach alliance at LA. Also, there HAS to be a video screen of some sort on the pit side of the curtain. Even a 13" TV would do better than nothing. LA had NOTHING! You had to go all the way into the stands to see the rankings. And they only displayed rankings at randome intevals that were fairly far apart because it was ont he same screen as the matches. If I had known there wouldn’t be one in the pits, we could have brought a projector and screen from school.

Ah, yes… good training for the queuing volunteers is greatly needed. We had several instances where the queuers on the field didn’t seem to know where we needed to be when and ended up having us on the field at the wrong time (esp during eliminations, they really need to know who goes where when). There’s also some times when the staff doesn’t really tell you which direction you’re supposed to go. It gets better by the end of the day, but would be nice to start off good too.

“Suggestions to improve regionals overall after atending two this year”

  1. Create a space in front of the playing field called the “team viewing area” so teams in the matches can head down and watch their team compete. Make sure there is enough space so huge teams won’t take up all the space and leave the little guys out. It makes sense to have the teams that are in the match have the prime viewing area. I understand the fire code is a concern, but this should be taken into account before the competition starts.

  2. Provide a way for people in the stands to have access to a power outlet. Laptops batteries aren’t good enough yet to last all day, so a place to plug in is needed. This helps with scouting and recreation during breaks.

  3. If possible have a place where people can access the internet, a wi-fi hotspot would be perfered, but even if it is just a phone line so people can plug their laptops into it would be great.

  4. Play DIFFERENT music, it’s not hard to play different songs for 3 days, it is only like 30 hours of music, i mean i could just plug my ipod in and play a different song for 7 days straight (no joke) so 30 hours isn’t that hard.

  5. Play the ALL the 3-d animations during breaks, those take a lot of work and the people judging them shouldn’t be the only ones to see it.

  6. Understand that near the end of the day, your rank is very important, so don’t get mad if a whole robotics team runs to the pits to check their rank, they just want to know how well they are doing.

If these concerns are addressed the competition would be great, thanks for taking my suggestions into consideration.

thank you all for you input this will really help give focus to what we need to do and please keep with the sugestions…

i also figured because you all have been so informative i would “leak” some of the things that are in the works. now don’t get too excitied because everything right now is not concrete but it is “in the works”

*open wireless network for use by all teams covering the whole playing field, stands, and pit areas

  • a bank of computers open for use to teams who need computer/internet acess but don’thave laptops

  • multiple simultainious webcasts from different stationary cameras located around the field (possibly also a blimb cam)

*team social could possibly be a combination of the following things: a movie, inflateable stuff(moon bounces, jousting, etc), ice skating, rollerskating, and or some stage show (magician, hypnosist, comedy troupe)

*2 onsite machine shops that will be avaiable within walking distance

*a FULL practice field

these are a few of many things that we are working on for next year as of right now it looks to be a good event…

Alright, what could’ve made the Palmetto off the heezy for sheezy?

-Keep the music clean. I believe we’ve beaten Tweet’s horse to death.

-Get a full-sized practice field (if the game is more Stack Attack-y) or at least a half (if we’re talking more like FIRST Frenzy, where the other side of the field isn’t AS important).

-If there is WiFi in the arena, TELL US!!! (I woulda used it!)

-The bank of computers would’ve been great. I’ll bet there was room in the Colonial Center for a room to handle that.

-A little more width to the pit aisles wouldn’t hurt…sometimes it was a squeeze if our little red wagon was headed out and a monster of a wagon was headed in.

-Some easier method of seating. 1293 was front rows center for Palmetto, but there were two equally annoying ways to get to the pits from there: go all the way up to the concourse, walk to section 105, then go all the way down, or cut across the aisles, annoying the spectators. If strategic rows (or even part of the floor, although I know that could make a pinch for field security) could be corded off so that teams could walk from the field to the pits more quickly, we’d all be jumping for joy. (And seating for the teams competing in that match wouldn’t hurt, either.)

-Get a full-sized screen on the pit side of the curtain. Palmetto was great with that small projector, but it was pretty hard to scope out your ranking without either being blocked by a team or blocking a team coming from the field. Maybe if they moved the screens to the far side of the arena, away from all of the traffic, that’d help.

-As much of a pipe dream as it is with arena contracts, it wouldn’t be too bad if there was a reasonably priced snack bar for students. (I know that most teams went to either Sonic or Wendy’s during lunch at Palmetto–it seems that if you had affordable food on-site, you could easily keep all of those students’ dollars in the building!)

That’s all I can think of.

One suggestion… An open wireless network is kind of asking for trouble. It’s not going to have much of anything to protect any of the laptops from each other. If the network is completely open, and a sizable number of people are using it, they will rather quickly all be infected with some worm or another, despite any warnings you may have about anti-virus software and personal firewalls. Also, I’m sort of doubting the inflatable games social will be approved, given the reasons for the current restrictions on dancing at socials.
Note that I’m not trying to be all negative, just pointing out stuff you’ll need to consider for some of those ideas.

  1. Some kind of internet access, it is hard to share/find information using websites without ready access to ports in the pits.
  2. A photo shoot, like organized at Sacramento, it’s nice to have a photo to remember that is well-organized
  3. Team social, even if not FIRST-sponsored, it’s fun.
  4. Machine shop like 254’s, a lifesaver

i had a meeting last night and shared some of the input given in this thread…everyone liked the ideas and hopes that people continue providing input…thanks alot i knew i could count of the CD community for this

Palmetto had wireless access, granted most teams did not know about it, but it was convenient for getting information as quickly as possible. I think I will pass on rementioning the “No Dancing” issue. However, one problem I have noticed at all of the regionals I have ever attended is a lack of projection screens in the pits. Perhaps the best fix for this is to not just do the one that is standard, but put one on each corner of the pits, this would hopefully prevent some of the major traffic jams that were caused at Palmetto this year.

Have Mandy Moore perform!