@DavisHS The Robotics Education & Competition Foundation is the entity that controls and moderates the Online Challenges, not VEX Robotics – they are simply just sponsors of the program.
The judging process consists of many volunteers who are provided a selection of entries (approximately 20-40 entries – possibly more) from a single online challenge. Each volunteer is then required to confirm that each entry has met the minimum requirements which are listed on each challenge’s page. If an entry does not meet the minimum requirements, it could be disqualified, and it happens every year. No matter how good of an entry it is, everyone is required to follow the requirements. After verifying that the entries met those requirements, each judge will rank the entry based on numerous judging criteria, which is also listed on each challenge’s page. After judging each entry, the entries receive a calculated score based on the rank of each criterion judged and are placed into a ranked list. At this point, a small selection of the top entries (approximately 10-30 entries per challenge) moves onto the finalist judging process where another set of volunteer judges will judge those top entries in the same manner until the winning entries are decided upon. It is important to note that there are a lot of judging criteria that go into deciding the top entries – you simply can’t judge a book by its cover. Just because an entry doesn’t look like a winning entry doesn’t mean that it isn’t. The judging process isn’t without its flaws, but it does a very good job of narrowing down the best entries based on the provided criteria. (Please note: this is a basic description of the outline of the judging process from the perspective of a volunteer judge and does not completely describe every aspect of the judging process.)
If you are interested in judging in the Online Challenges yourself and you are not currently participating in the online challenges you are more than welcome to sign up as a volunteer judge. Just email email@example.com. I hope this information was insightful to you and others.
For those of you who feel as though the odds are stacked against you based on last year’s online challenges, please don’t give up and don’t stop submitting your entries. There is always room for improvement, and always a chance you could come out on top the following year. My first year participating in the online challenges, I didn’t win, which was very upsetting because I believed I had the winning entry and I had put so much work into it. This motivated me to do better and improve the submission for the following year and sure enough the following year I won first place in an online challenge, and again the next year. I strongly encourage everyone whether or not they won to try your best and never give up even if it seems impossible.