Why is Engineering Inspiration viewed as second place to the Chairman's Award?

If you are looking for a checklist of requirements for EI, you won’t get one because it does not exist, and it’s not possible for one to exist - inspiration can happen and be measured in as many ways as there are teams. Truelight hit the nail on the head here:

Judges are guided by an experienced and trained Judge Advisor, which should ensure that the judging process at its core is similar across all events. Judges also receive a handbook, which is not public.

But, there is the awards manual, which explicitly sets guidelines for EI, and while it does not give an explicit set of guidelines for CA, the descriptions of the submission contents are the guidelines there:

EI specifically recognizes engineering outreach, impact, etc. FIRST has many facets and can inspire people to pursue many passions (engineering, science, technology, math, teaching, medicine, outreach, etc), but this award is primarily about ways a team is inspiring others to the field of engineering. Applying for CA is neither a guideline nor requirement.

CA is a more broad and is about the experience: the impact of the team on their community, sponsors, and the team members itself, and the partnership that forms between those groups. FIRST is a competition of engineering, so naturally this experience will involve engineering in some way, but FIRST is not “FIRE: For Inspiration and Recognition of Engineering” - it’s more than robots, and the CA recognizes the “more than robots” part (though robots can be a method used to achieve the “more than robots” impact). From the awards manual:

There is some overlap between the two awards (measurable impact), and the qualities of some activities can satisfy what the judges are looking for for both awards, which is why many teams win both in the span of a season or successive seasons. But they are two very different awards.

From the FRC Administrative Manual:

"6.14.7 Engineering Inspiration Award
Celebrates outstanding success in advancing respect and appreciation for engineering within a team’s school or organization and community. GUIDELINES
■ Extent and inventiveness of the team’s efforts to recruit students to engineering with particular emphasis on the most recent year’s efforts. Measurable success of those efforts.
■ Extent and effectiveness of the team’s community outreach efforts with particular emphasis on the most recent year’s efforts. Measurable success of those efforts.
■ A commitment to science and technology education among the team, school, and community.
■ Achievement of the FIRST mission and ability to communicate that at the competition and away from it.
■ Efforts are ongoing, not strictly concentrated on the build and competition season."

While I am sure that the judging varies from event to event, I am fairly certain that the award follows this criteria. As far as differences between EI and Chairman’s, you can see that here in the “emphasis on the most recent year’s efforts” and “commitment to science and technology education”. Much of the language is similar to the Chairman’s Award, though, and so we can see where the overlap may occur.

The Chairman’s Award is much easier to judge consistently (though surely discrepancies still do exist), I believe, than other awards because of the constraints on submissions. Often, Chairman’s judges are also more experienced judges with that award in particular or with the rest of the FRC judging process.

I’m not sure what you mean here. Could you explain more?


DCA:1218, 433, 11, 2590,** 75**
DEI: 1923, 321, 75, 433, 3142

DCA:1218, 2590, 433, 75, 11, 2729
DEI: 1403, 3142, 321, 1676, 75, 321

DCA: 1676, 1218, 433, 303, 2590, 75
DEI: 75, 25, 365, 3142, 4575, 1676

DCA: 1647, 303, 708, 1218, 1676, 321, 1923
DEI: 11, 1676, 1218, 2729, 75, 365, 3314

DCA: 1923, 708, 1647, 321, 869, 1218, 1403
DEI: 303, 1218, 2590, 11, 1676, 272, 4575


DCA: 2046, 4488, 2522, 1983, 3219, 4057, 1318, 948, 4125, 1540
DEI: 3786, 4057, 4911, 4125, 2980, 4043, 2903, 4060, 2910, 2990

DCA: 1540, 2557, 4125, 2930, ** 3574**, 2980, 3588, 4911, 1983, 3219
DEI: 3673, 3588, 4980, 4915, 1540, 2930, 1595, 488, 3024,** 3574**

DCA: 2257, 4125, 1540, 4911, 1983, 3574, 1510, 2471, 2980
DEI: 3786, 4061, 1510, 2522, 4125, 4911, 3574, 2635, 2046


DCA: 811, 3467, 78, 2648, 1100, 558, 1058, 2067, 125
DEI: 2648, 4546, 228, 3930, 1519, 1735, 3467, 178, 3525

DCA: 467, 195, 178, 4905, 2877, 2648, 558, 1058, 1519
DEI: 811, 228, 176, 1735, 5512, 3930, 78, 2648, 172

DCA: 230, 4905, 4761, 2648, 4176, 166, 125, 558, 467
DEI: 4557, 5422, 4909, 172, 246, 1519, 190, 2067, 1058


DCA: 247, 33, 280, 66, 27, 503, 217
DEI: 85, 68, 2673, 440, 1023, 1718, 815

DCA: 548, DATA NOT LISTED IN TBA, 226, 503, 27, 1718, 33
DEI: 2834, DATA NOT LISTED IN TBA, 217, 247, 1, 141, 503

DCA: 2604, 66, 548, 1, 1718, 503, 2337, 33, 1023
DEI: 2834, 141, 862, 503, 27, 141, 830, 68, 2137

DCA: 1711, 85, 66, 503, 123, 1718, 27, 548, 33, 2137
DEI: 2337, 123, 830, 2834, 1023, 2771, 94, 68, 1718, 27

DCA: 68, 2771, 3641, 548, 2834, 27, 1718, 141, 503, 2337, 1023
DEI: 862, 1711, 141, 2834, 314, 4325, 2604, 862, 3641, 217, 226

DCA: 1718, 33, 2771, 503, 1023, 548, 2137, 1711, 1506, 280, 2337, 68, 2834, 314, 2604
DEI: 1023, 470, 4377, 2337, 3602, 27, 302, 857, 2771, 548, 141, 1, 3547, 503, 4130

DCA: 141, 1023, 503, 4967, 2604, 2137, 280, 3641, 245, 3618, 3547, 1718, 68, 1322, 548, 862, 1502, 33
DEI: 3322, 1701, 3770, 3620, 1711, 1718, 2611, 2834, 94, 2619, 2767, 226, 123, 2771, 217, 2137, 5084, 2337

DCA: 1322, 1025, 3618, 33, 2604, 2834, 66, 503, 3767, 2619, 68, 548, 2137,** 85**, 4776, 2771, 2959, 1718, 3641, 5090, 1711
DEI: 1, 573, 3602, 1023, 2337, 85, 4967, 3175, 2586, 226, 1502, 3641, 4130, 4956, 68, 2767, 503, 2337, 3322, 3175, 5505

Surprisingly enough between MAR, PNW, FiM, NE, and IN; IN is the only district top never have a team win DCA and DEI in the same and it has happened at least once in the four other districts every year except for FiM (2009) and NE (2016).


If there isn’t an universal criteria for EI could this be a reason why a team might win CA at one regional but then give their same presentation at different regional to different judges and win Regional EI?

I’m not sure what you mean here. Could you explain more?[/quote]

in simple terms:
If team A goes to Regional X and gives their presentation and win EI at Regional X
and if they went to Regional Y instead and gave the same presentation they gave at Regional X then they might win RCA at Regional Y

Great work on digging up these numbers.

The above is half right however after the event it was corrected and awarded to team 2648 who was runner up.

Ok, that make sense.
But, since they are different awards it is justifiable for an RCA to win EI at champs because of the overlap? I have no problem with teams winning both in a season before champs. I find that the judging process is somewhat fair and reasonable at a regional and district level but In my opinion, I believe that it takes the opportunity away from REI teams to win EI at champs if they have to compete with RCA teams as well. Many teams would love the opportunity to win an REI let alone an RCA. It just seems kinda strange to have an RCA team in the same discussion with a REI for a subdivision EI win

thanks for finding that, I found it kinda odd for a team for win EI twice within a division so I thought something was up but could not find that post. I corrected in the original comment

I don’t really see how there’s an issue. RCA winning teams are not inherently better than teams that do not win an RCA in a given year (or win EI). Different regions have different levels of competition for both awards. You’re correct that it’s more likely that an RCA team has done work that makes them a good candidate for EI, but at the end of the day, we’re looking for the team that best fits the criteria of the Engineering Inspiration award-- the best of the best in that subdivision. I believe that the best team for those criteria should be chosen, whether they’re an RCA winner or not.

Hey, you forgot 2729’s 2013 DCA! Great compilation, though. It really puts things into perspective.

I think you really hit the nail on the head for me with this. I agree with you 100%. For me, it just felt for the teams that just go to champs with an REI award should be able to compete for that award at champs and be compared to other REI teams. It just felt like some REI don’t get the recognition they deserve because they are competing with RCA who are usually at a higher caliber. Some teams are EI teams some are CA teams very few are both (this is where the overlaps occurs). For some teams, it is hard to take that step as an EI team to winning a RCA so for that team, an REI might seem like the greatest thing to happen them despite its relationship to a RCA. I just believe that that team that worked hard for a REI shouldn’t be counted out of the discussion to win EI at a subdivison

whoops haha. When you go back and forth between TBA and CD on two different monitors your bound to forgot something. I fixed it in original post. Thanks

Just look at all of the Division EI winners.
Archimedes/Tesla: 3211-RCA Western Canada Regional
Carson/Galileo: 2468-RCA Utah Regional
Curie/Carver: 3990-RCA Montreal Regional
Hopper/Newton: 1676-RCA Buckeye Regional

They are all RCA winners. The same can be said for all 2015 EI winners.
Teams who have won both awards have an advantage over teams just competing for EI. Teams that have won both should chose which award they are competing for.
These are my own views. They may or may not reflect the beliefs of my team.

Well, technically, they’re competing against every other team there, RCA winners and not. They’re also competing against many teams who were strong contenders for REI and RCA, but ultimately didn’t win the award.

I’m conflicted on how I feel about EI is given out at champs. I can see a case for why it’s open to everyone whether they’re a REI winner or not (since it’s not an interviewed/presentation award at regionals*), and an equally strong case for why only REI teams should be eligible at CMP (since it’s an award that gets you a ticket to CMP so that’s kinda why you’re there).

*The reason there’s a presentation at DCMPs is because winning EI at a district doesn’t autoqualify the team+robot for DCMP, so it’s entirely possible for a team to compete for EI at DCMP without their robot being there.


3211 RCA
2468 RCA
1676 RCA and EI
3990 RCA and EI


3478 RCA and EI
195 RCA
3132 RCA and EI
771 RCA and EI


2158 EI
2468 RCA
1710 RCA


3478 EI


1629 RCA

I am really glad you hit on this because I pulled up the data from division/subdivision who won EI at champs in last 4 years. In 2014, FIRST awarding EI at the subdivision level. Just a quick look at the data since 2014, all but 2 teams won RCA before champs.
2158 is only team in this time span to win EI at champs after only winning EI at a regional. Lastly 384 was the last team to win EI at champs without a RCA or REI

If what you’re trying to accomplish with the bolding is to highlight teams that won both DCA and DEI, 3175 and 2337 both did not win DCA, we both just were in the situation where we were repeat DEI winners (which isn’t supposed to happen). Thank you, however for doing the research for this.

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There is no presentation for the Engineering Inspiration award.

The Chairman’s Award judges who see the team’s CA presentation are not the same judges who decide who gets EI.

Except, a team does not give a presentation for EI, only for the RCA/DCA.

The EI is judged by a different set of judges that talk to the teams in the pits. Of course the process of submitting for the RCA/DCA does likely improve the focus of that message, as it means a team is at least practicing how they present delivering their message to the judges. Now I am not saying that the RCA/DCA judges do not provide input or insight for the EI discussion, because of course they do. But the entire group of judges must agree in deciding who gets the (other than RCA/DCA) team awards and the robot awards.

It is NOT a given that a team is considered for EI or RCA/DCA because they have won the other earlier in the season or for EI specifically because they submitted for the RCA/DCA. While the same students that present for RCA/DCA may talk to both groups of judges, the flow of the conversation is very different. Often it is different students that did not present for RCA/DCA in the pits talking to the team judges. Different groups of judges talking to different students from a team that get similar strong engineering inspiration message from that team is what greatly improves the likelihood of getting a team award. The same thing can be said about being impressed by the robot design and engineering for the robot awards.

As has been mentioned before, if a team wins both in a year, that is because they have a strong program. Heck, it doesn’t even matter if they have a good robot. FIRST is about more than robots, right? A team that wins either RCA/DCA or EI have inspired students, that do a good job of conveying that inspiration, the why and how they were inspired, and in turn how they inspire those around their team.

It is those students that inspire the judges to give them the awards.

Standard Disclaimer: The opinions presented below are my own and do not reflect those of my team.

After 15 years spent in FIRST, there’s a lot of things I’ve figured out. The precise method by which the recipients of these awards is determined has not been one of those things.

After reading this thread, I guess my first thought is, “I’m glad I’m not the only one who finds the awards and judging process confusing.”

In fact, it could still to this day remain as one of the great unsolved mysteries in FIRST. I don’t know if there is any secret formula to winning the Engineering Inspiration Award, but if there is, I think Team 3880 has found it, winning 6 times in 5 years. Maybe someone from that team can chime in here and enlighten us.

I can just about guarantee you that isn’t it. We’ve been there and done that, many years over now, and do not have a single EI to show for it. No disrespect to any previous winners (many of whom are friends of mine) but there are plenty of teams not even associated with a school that have received this award (and don’t even get me started on how FIRST as an organization generally undervalues partnerships and integration with schools).

Quite honestly, the mystery and inconsistency surrounding these awards, and my team’s experiences surrounding our efforts toward them over the past several years has caused me to redirect my focus not toward winning awards, but toward educating students. And furthermore, I’ve come to realize that in some instances, that goal can be better achieved through programs other than FIRST Robotics.

And one more point: I’ve also perpetually wondered why the Engineering Inspiration Award wins you a $5,000 check and the Chairman’s Award (FIRST’s so-called “highest honor”) wins you a $5,000 invoice. It’s a very mixed message if you ask me.

All fantastic points. I think this is what the perceived nature of the two Awards boils down to: they have very similar aims. They both reward teams who can most effectively change (and convey how they change) the culture of their team and community. The overlap in winners is due to strong programs, not necessarily Judges favoring winners with a certain record. It’s kind of a “correlation over causation” thing to me.

There is at DCMPs. This is a new rule as of last year*, because of how teams qualify to compete with this award. Teams might win a DEI but not have enough District Points to qualify with their robot. The team does a dedicated presentation at this point for the DCEI. To maintain a fair level of competition, all DEI winning teams will present at the DCMP, regardless of whether or not their robot qualified. At Regionals, every team qualifies, meaning there are no presentations.

*I assume it was last year. As a 2014 CA presenter, I don’t remember our team doing any presentation for EI at MICMP, even though we had won a DEI that year. 2016 was my team’s next DEI win - we did have a DCEI presentation this year. I assume the rule change had come some time in between - maybe it’s new this year.

As I read your post, each of the statements I’ve bolded made me pause and think about how I think differently about the awards. I’ve heard that (many) CA judges are quarantined for almost all of the competition, I don’t know any team that has a different set of kids for presentation and CA/EI pit talks, and I can name almost no programs that don’t have consistently strong robots alongside CA/EI wins my own team’s from 2010-2013 being one exception… I say this not to try and “call you out,” but to point out how different the every team’s judging experience can be. Depending on the region, team, and judges, so many factors can change. I personally think this is an interesting nuance to remind teams that these awards aren’t about the awards themselves, rather than proof that the awards criteria need to be standardized and streamlined. Others may disagree.

Heh, I’ve always kinda chuckled at this one. I’m 99% sure this is a NASA-sponsored grant. The reason why NASA sponsors EI over Chairman’s isn’t clear to me, but it might have to do with the fact that one award has the words “Engineering” and “Inspiration” in the title, while the other doesn’t. To the uninformed ear, one sounds like a very STEM-focused community outreach award while the other sounds maybe important but very vague. If I was a NASA exec with enough money to spend on only one award, I know which one I’d probably pick.

just for reference who won in their place?