Winning Engineering Inspiration

So for the first time ever team 997 Spartan Robotics won the Engineering Inspiration award. I could not be prouder of them. It is an award that while we have been doing good work I never expected use to win due to the high level of saturation of STEM due to us being less than two miles for Oregon State University.

Some of the students (and I think the FRC community) have called the award Chairman’s light. Would that be an accurate assessment of the award?

Over the seven years I have been in FRC the understand I had developed of EI was that it shared some aspects of CA but EI was more focused on STEM education where as CA had a community service aspect to it. Would that be accurate?

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That’s definitely what it gets called… I’m not surprised, it’s very similar to being an event Finalist (medals, no banner.)

Chairman’s is supposed to be about spreading STEM programs in the community (this year, it was worded for FIRST specifically) or “advancing FIRST’s mission”.
Of course, I’m not highly involved in my team’s awards group, so this is all possibly inaccurate. YMMV?

Has anyone ever won EI without submitting for Chairman’s Award? In our limited experience, we have not seen it happen, although they say they are separate. Perhaps since it is the same judges, it may be unperceived bias on their part.

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How do you know it is the same judges?

I’ve seen it happen at District Events. If you win Chairman’s at your first event, you don’t present at your 2nd event and I have seen teams that have won Chairmans at their first event win EI at their 2nd event.

Always check the guidelines for the awards.

EI is based on the most recent year.

Chairman’s is longer-term (the questions for the essay ask for the last 5 years of info).

They are judged by separate judges, although judges can certainly talk to each other.

Often, teams that are up for one are probably being considered for the other.

Congratulations to your team!

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I second this inquiry. Has a team that did not submit a Chairman’s submission for a given year ever win an EIA for that year? I’m not even sure how a search for this data would even be performed, but if I had to guess, the total number of such occurrences for the past decade would be less than 1% of EIA winners.

Throughout the past few years, it has become slightly more difficult to find teams that have won EI without applying for Chairman’s. At district competitions, there is only one Chairman’s and one EI winner, so evidently, those who apply for Chairman’s but do not win it tend to be the most deserving for EI. However, I know that a prime example of a team who does not apply for Chairman’s but has won EI multiple times is 540 (slight bias but it is objectively true).

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Yes.
Also yes.
And even more so, yes.

This is simply not the case. Chairman’s judges are not EI judges.

Congratulations on winning EI!

This is mostly accurate. EI is more focused on engineering specifically; not necessarily the full array of STEM.

EI is not “second place CA” by any means, and submitting for CA is not a requirement for the EI award. If submitting for CA was a requirement, or if it was a subset of CA, it would be stated as such. But it’s not. They are very different awards.

This topic seems to come up every year or two…here’s a thread from 2016 about the same topic (linking specifically to my post in it because I don’t want to type it all out again, but the whole thread is quite a read)

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My team (4680) won EI last year at FiM Southfield without submitting for chairman’s award.

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100% yes. In 2017 my team had an off year and didn’t get our Chairman’s submission ready in time (oops!). We also won EI at the North Star Regional that year (and got things back on track with our first ever Chairman’s win in 2018).

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And let’s not overlook the fact that winning EI at the state championship level (at least in FiM) comes with a very nice monetary award from NASA in the form of paying fees for worlds.

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Engineering Inspiration is distinct from chairman’s in a few ways.

  1. Engineering inspiration focuses on a single year. Some people think that this is why it is an “easier” version of Chairman’s, but I strongly disagree. To make an impact in a year is incredibly difficult. Chairman’s is all about sustainability which is a completely different problem to solve. Yes, EI winning teams can become chairman’s teams if they sustain their work, but they are often different skill sets. There are so many chairman’s winning teams in districts who rarely get EI and this really reinforces that it is a completely different problem set.
  2. Engineering inspiration is probably harder to make an impression on the judges for (speaking as a judge on this one). Chairman’s presentations give teams 12 minutes to get their point across just on their outreach. For EI, teams must first manage to make an impression within the nontechnical conversation in order to potentially warrant a second conversation. Everyone at the event is eligible for EI, whereas chairman’s is only up for teams who have applied, making the pool quite small in comparison to the event. While chairman’s has a lot of extremely qualified teams, EI often has more in the very top tier of discussion.
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NASA covers the championship entry fee for all teams that qualify based of EI. So, anyone who gets it at a regional or DCMP.

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