Awards Judging Seminar by Evan Morrison


Subject: Reminder: Awards Judging Seminar - Thurs Jan 4 at 2:30 - Rm 112
To: MVHS Robotics Club <>

This is good for anyone who can come, it should be good information for if we want to try and win some of the judged awards.  Evan is very knowledgeable about everything related to FIRST.

Evan Morrison is going to hold a workshop/seminar on awards judging and ways to increase the odds of getting awards.  FIRST has many awards that they judge teams for and 971 has never won one of these awards.  Evan was the 971 team president in 2006 and has graduated from college and is currently at Purdue University.  I think that this will be really valuable because he has experience on a successful FIRST team - 190 at WPI in Massachusetts.  He might also be able to give us some thoughts on how bigger teams are organized and how they are managed during the season.  

Anyone who is interested in helping with any of the awards or is interested in the team getting some of these awards should attend.

When: Wed. Jan. 4th 2:30-5 pm
Where: MVHS Room 112

Notes from Evan Morrison's January 4, 2012 Awards Judging Seminar

For those of you who couldn't make the meeting today, Evan had a lot of good information.  Nick Crispie took a video of it so we should be able to replay it for anyone who is interested and I took notes.  I tried to write the high points here.

Evan first gave an overview of his perception of the judging process and a rundown of the different awards.  He spent a lot of time discussing the technical/robot awards that he thinks play to our strengths and that we should actively pursue.  This was pretty interesting but I will leave that to the video.  We will not be posting this on the web but will keep it on a DVD.

He also talked about some of the things we should talk about for the Chairman's award.  For new members, the Chairman's award is the top award in FIRST and is judged based on how well a team exemplifies the values of FIRST.  

We should talk about 

  • our sustained relationships with mentors and sponsors
  • the increased visibility and culture change of our team within the MVHS community - we have become a bigger presence at the school
  • it is good to submit a business plan for the Entrepreneurship award because that increases our odds for the Chairman's award
  • how our members have gotten internships with sponsor organizations (Jai - Abbott, Austin - Google, Evan - Intuitive Surgical)
  • how our sponsors have increased their interest and commitment to our team over the years.

Evan then talked about how we should prepare for talking to judges at the competition.  He said to always be very polite to all judges in the blue shirts - even if the award they are judging is not one you think you'll get.  Apparently they talk among themselves and these impressions are critical.  They also watch how teams act even when they are not being judged - how they interact with each other and other teams.  This part of his talk would probably be good for everyone to watch before the competition.  Basically, everyone who is in the pit should be prepared to talk to judges.

Some tips

  • Judges like to talk to students.  If you need to have a mentor help describe something that is ok but it is better if students can talk.  That means that the students have learned stuff during the season.
  • Handouts are good highlighting robot features.  
  • They like to see calculations and spare parts that you can use to show design features
  • Explain why something you have done is better than other designs (yours or others)
  • 190 comes up with a design theme before the season starts - we don't need to do that but if you can think of a unifying design theme after the fact (like we wanted to design a fast robot) it can be used to start conversations with judges.
  • Some judges just hang around watching - if you see judges doing that go up and start talking to them.  Bring them in to look at the robot.
  • If you think there is some other student who can describe something better, introduce them to the judges.
  • Talking about earlier iterations on a design.  They like that.

For all members, during the season,

  • Ask lots of questions about the robot.  It would be good for everyone on the team to have a working knowledge of the robot. 
  • Understand why we do things on the robot.
  • Know who worked on specific parts of the robot
  • Learn about the cool features on our robot - that's what the judges want to hear about.

Hopefully I didn't miss too much.  It was a really good talk.