2019 Online Challenges - Finalists Frustrations

To the entire online challenge community, I feel as though there may have been some sort of error that has caused the online challenge website to incorrectly show some of the finalists for each challenge. This is purely speculative, as I am not responsible for the online challenges, nor am I aware of what is going on. However, as a volunteer online challenge judge, I see absolutely none of my top-scoring entries as finalists in the particular online challenge that I helped judge, unlike the previous year I volunteered as a judge. This leads me to believe that there may have been some sort of error on the backend of the online challenge’s website that has led to showing some random entries instead of finalists, which would make sense as there have been many frustrations with some of the finalists’ that were selected. In addition on the website challenge finalists page, there is an option for a second page of finalists, however, when you click on it, it brings you to the second page of regular entries. @tweber can you please look into this to make sure there is nothing wrong?



I appreciate you judging. Thank you for speaking up about the possible mistakes in the finalists. I am the coach of the AquaBots 1845A. We entered many challenges in the IQ level. I am shocked at the results.
I believe 100% that there were mistakes in posting the finalists. Some of those finalists didn’t follow the rules. I will try my best to remain positive for my girls when I tell them. However, by comparing our entries to the finalists, I can not provide feedback for them because my team followed all of the guidelines, when some of the finalists did not.

Anyways, thank you for volunteering as a judge and providing your insight. I hope REC or VEX can double check the finalists list and make sure the entries followed the guidelines.

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The link to the 2nd page of the finalists is broken for website and photo, but you can fix it by adding “&filter=finalists” to the end of the address

Aiden, as a judge, can you please email me directly so that we may discuss the process. I am looking into your frustrations and will be looking over all finalists again as a courtesy. But, I would certainly appreciate the opportunity to discuss offline with you, as a judge. Thank you!


To all that have responded regarding the finalists frustrations, please know that I am taking all comments into consideration and also checking into any technical glitches with the website. Thank you


Many thanks to you and the judges for taking the time to take a second look at the finalists list. I appreciate your hard work and dedication to making sure everything was correct. Even if it doesn’t end up in our favor, we appreciate your time.


sparkllinteach, if you could reach out to me @ volunteer@roboticseducation.org I will be happy to give you feedback on my findings regarding your team. Thank you


Hello, I would also like a feedback about my teams, because we had a special problem with IDs (and sent mail to support@robotevents.com but did not get an answer), can i send you an email?

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Has the issue been investigated thoroughly yet? It’s been two days since this post, many since finalists were released. I noticed how for a while yesterday every challenge except for CAD Challenge had all finalists removed, but right now they look the same as they were previously? What’s going on?

I’m still seeing problems such as consistent duplicate posts as finalists, and it’s very frustrating to see this lack of care towards something students put tens, if not hundreds of hours into.


It appears that the finalists are back up (with the exception of the promote award at this time), however, I did notice that the website issues are still present for the website online challenge. There are still duplicate entries (which should have been removed, but seem to be lingering) in addition to the second page redirecting to all entries. According to what tweber and I talked about, I have reason to believe that the website challenge is not showing the correct finalists (or even all of the finalists) currently. I can’t say the same for any other challenge, as I am not aware of or have been keeping track of the other challenges.

I can assure you all, that every judge followed the same rubrics for each challenge, and there is a reason that the finalists were chosen, even if it doesn’t seem apparent. There were also many entries that were extraordinary, however, they were simply on the cusp of making the finalists list as the online challenges are always very competitive and the submissions get better each and every year. I believe the biggest take away from this is just because you didn’t make the finalists doesn’t mean your entry wasn’t good. I just want to say that I appreciate all the time that you or your kids have put into the online challenges as well as providing us with feedback. All of the feedback has helped us and will continue to help us make the online challenges better.

I completely understand everyone’s frustrations, as I was once a participant in the online challenges years ago, and I know probably better than most how much time can be spent on online challenge submissions. My first online challenge entry was in 2015 for the website challenge, and sadly, I didn’t win that year, but with many hours and lots of determination and hard work, the following two years I won first place in the website challenge. The point is, is that you shouldn’t be discouraged that your or your kid’s entry didn’t get selected as a finalist or a winner, but you should simply take it as feedback and motivation to do better for the next year.

Lastly, I know that @tweber is working very hard and doing everything in her power to resolve and correct all the errors, however, as this is the first year that she is running the online challenges, I am sure it is an overwhelming process, especially with as many issues as there have been this year unlike the previous years. I can assure everyone that the judges and tweber have put much care and time into reviewing each entry to the best of their abilities, and we will continue to through all of these issues. I know everyone is itching for answers, and so am I, and at this point, the best thing to do is simply monitor the forums and the online challenge website for any potential updates. Thanks to everyone for being understanding :slight_smile:


Just to conclude this thread and dispel any doubts by using a specific example, do you mind explaining this situation:

This part: https://challenges.robotevents.com/challenge/94/entry/6247
In terms of cad difficulty, this is essentially an extruded c with some fillets. This part is a finalist, and I see no real problem with that so far. The idea is reasonable as well, since a part like this could actually be useful.
Now let’s look at a different part.
This is a complex, well thought out part that has been integrated into complex mechanisms by the team who created it, and shown off to have been successful in said designs. Not only that, they put together (in my opinion) a very nice promotional video for their part, which shows skill and attention to detail.

In terms of documentation, there are many details missing when you compare these two parts. The pulley kit has renders of a wide range of applications and a proper design documentation sheet. I would love it if you could explain where this submission fell short.

On to another great entry in my opinion that did not achieve finalist: https://challenges.robotevents.com/challenge/94/entry/5607
This part is very complex and VERY detail oriented. There is even embossed text to indicate angle on the y axis. This part is very new and has not been created yet of course, while that clip on spacer has, actually, had what is essentially a superior version made and even accepted as a finalist. I understand that you’ve mentioned that you understand everyone’s frustrations, but these are not frustrations and regret towards losing. People who have not submitted submissions this year such as myself are very displeased with the way these awards have been treated, as I can tell how much work some projects have had, and for that to not have been rewarded is absolutely a travesty. I also understand that there are many, many entries that the judges must go through, but I feel that a more detailed approach must be taken. If it is not possible, more judges need to be brought on to the team. If that is not possible, then I am confused as to how it is feasible to even host these online challenges.

Thank you for reading this, I know I’ve been very confrontational. If you can clarify how this selection has taken place, I’m sure the community would greatly appreciate it and be well and satisfied with the work of the judges.


I’d also like to point out that this high school entry was the same concept as this middle school entry, however the middle school entry had far more detail throughout their final report.

The high school entry is in the finalists, despite being less detailed than a similar middle school entry which didn’t. Can anyone cite some way that the high school entry was better than the middle school based on the judging criteria?


I don’t see any changes in the finalists either. The list looks exactly the same as it did a few days ago. Two entries on the Girl Powered Challenge submitted their entries after the original January 15th deadline.

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I would like to see some explanation on how the finalists were chosen as well. As has been discussed above. I’ve seen much more deserving entries compared to what was chosen and this is very discouraging and frustrating for the kids that worked really hard on it. Worse, this may actually encourage kids to just take a simple idea from previous seasons, make some slight modification and submit it for future challenges. It just doesn’t make sense. :frowning:


I haven’t been involved in the Online Challenges for three years, but I used to be. It’s not uncommon for a team to have technical problems when submitting their entry close to the deadline. Funny, but students all wait until the last second, and the submission system doesn’t necessarily have the capacity for everyone to submit in the same 5-minute window. When I ran the Online Challenges, every year there were a few entrants who sent us email with details of the issues they faced, and we worked with them to get the entries in. I don’t know how they do it now, but in The Olde Days we were merciful, which sometimes led to entries with time stamps slightly after the deadline. It happens(ed).