2014 Championship Pros & Cons

Blog Date: 
Friday, May 2, 2014 - 08:39

I hope everyone who attended the FIRST Championship is recovered from all the activity!  

As I did last year, I wanted to list initial impressions on what went well at the FIRST Championship from an FRC perspective, and what could use some work. Just like the lists last year, these aren’t intended to be exhaustive. Also, note that these pros and cons are for the Championship itself only, not about the game or any other aspect of FRC or FIRST this season.

Pros

    • 10 scheduled qualification matches for every FRC team – Thanks to some very hard work by our volunteers and staff!
    • Safe, smooth team entry in the mornings – No reported issues, and everyone was calm and mostly smiling*
    • Closing Ceremonies – Good fun, no technical issues, no scoring problems, exciting matches, and 2 hours 10 minutes long from start to finish. Last year’s length? 3 hours 20 minutes 
    • Team match viewing area – Seemed well received
    • More awards at the Division level – Also seemed well received!
    • 4 Team Alliances for eliminations – This extended involvement in the tournament for 32 additional teams compared to last year. While no 4th robots (3rd picks) played on Einstein, within the Divisions, approximately 50% of all 4th robots got to play at least one match
    • Hall of Fame – An enhanced Hall of Fame area gave these teams the additional recognition they deserve and made the Hall of Fame area more of a destination for teams aspiring one day to join them

Cons

    • Drivers’ Meeting – Confusion over who should be allowed to pass security, and some seating sections were closed that should not have been
    • Wednesday afternoon schedule was very hectic – At the end of practice matches, about 30 or more teams from each Division had not yet had a chance to connect to the field
    • Einstein feed on NASA TV cut out before the last match – NASA TV broadcasts are automated, and there was no practical way for us to ask for a few more minutes because we were running late, but we’ll see what we can do next year 
    • Signage – With the complicated logistics operation we have at Championship, we need more signage to help direct people to the right place
    • Tight timing between the end of Division play and the start of Closing Ceremonies – While things on Einstein ran exceptionally smoothly, we were a little late getting started with Closing Ceremonies, and we didn’t get in as much testing as we would have liked. Also, teams felt the need to leave their Divisions early to get good seats for Einstein.  I understand one team even missed being named as Engineering Inspiration Award winner for their Division. As the top award at the Division level, this is a real shame
    • No live feed of matches in the pits – Having a live feed would add to the excitement and maybe help keep teams on schedule
    • Paper airplanes – I was on the fence about listing this one, because it could be considered minor, but decided to. We saw a significant increase in the number of paper airplanes being thrown during closing. They are beautiful in flight, but once they touch the ground, they turn to trash – an eyesore that someone needs to pick up. I recognize that throwing paper airplanes is fun, and that folks in the stands don’t have much to do while waiting for ceremonies to start, but as a community I think we are not leaving a positive impression with this.

As I say above, these lists are not intended to be exhaustive.  We will be working on the cons listed above, along with others, for next year. 

GameSense

I’ll be on GameSense tonight starting at 8PM ET/5PM PT , talking with the fine folks there about all things FRC.  Hope you can tune in here, or watch the recording on YouTube later.

We had some fun last night just prepping for the show, I think it’s going to be a good one!

Frank

*Guess what time Team 148, the Robowranglers, showed up to be first in line for entry Thursday morning?  You’re going to have to guess, because when I asked them while they were standing there, they wouldn’t tell me.

Comments

The team viewing area was well recieved. I would suggest that the volunteers let the viewing teams stay until the final scores are announced.
There was a lot of time to waste prior to the closing ceremonies for some divisions. I think that was the cause of the increase in paper airplanes. One suggestion would be some entertainment that is interactive. For example a game (they are all already in the competitive mode) to text answers to random questions on the screen with logo prizes lead my an MC/DJ.
It was an amesome experience and you did an excellent job! Thank you!

Another Con that could be added was the lack of an announcement saying that 2 team representatives would no longer be allowed on the floor at Closing Ceremonies. Neither Pit Admin or Security knew what was going on and left both of our chosen representatives rather hurt that they wouldn't get the experience of being on the floor. Even with the switch to division awards, the assumption that 2 representatives were no longer needed wasn't enough, as I saw many teams attempt to get onto the floor. If this change is permanent, can an official announcement be made by FIRST concerning the situation?

Most of the changes this year were fantastic! I'm so glad we're able to give the teams 10 matches. Some of the true confusion will dissipate as volunteers get used to starting Wednesday afternoon. I do think we need some time built into the end of Wednesday to connect the teams that haven't done so already.

Also, from a lead-volunteer perspective, the Wednesday schedule is too packed. I couldn't have my customary long-talk with my field team prior to practice due to a number of conflicting volunteer-oriented things going on up-to or during the time immediately preceding practice matches.

Being up in the 400 level seats for closing ceremonies, it was tough to see the video screen on Einstein because it was being blocked by the lighting trusses. Adding a screen or two above the trusses would be a huge help.

I would add that viewing from the top level during the closing ceremonies wasn't as ideal as it could be since the screen was completely blocked by the truss for lighting. If there was another screen higher up above the audience it would have gone a long way.

Other than that everything was great.

My team missed receiving the Engineering Inspiration Award, totally my fault (Head Coach Team 1710). I think the change from overall Awards to Division Awards could have been better published. I had spent 3 weeks preparing a trip to St. Louis not searching for updates. I have looked back through e-mail blasts and have yet to figure out where teams were informed of the change. I guess we will just have to shoot for Engineering Inspiration next year so we can get our picture on the field.

-The distance to walk to the Dome from the pits was long. If you spent 4 minutes walking each way, and you go to your team's 10 or more matches, that's over 80 minutes just spent walking. Would it be possible to unlock doors to the pits that are closer to the dome, or even better, add a human path (next to the robot path) in the annex that goes to stairs to the stands?
-I agree that Einstein seating was still difficult. What made it worse was that the speakers and flags over the field blocked the screen for many seats. Would it be possible for them to be mounted out of the way?

I'm new to FIRST, this was the 1st Championship I've watched (online in my case).
Simply have no trash left behind, period. Leave none for event or facility staff to clean up. Be a good visitor/participant at any and all FIRST events. Then you're remembered in a rare and positive way.
#PickUp and #CleanUp

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