7682 Toss Up Programming skills

You mean this one?

No mention of an 8min presentation there sorry.

Doesn’t that state design interviews will be scheduled at the competition?
Im sorry if Im clueless but for everyone else reading this it looks confusing.

Didn’t you get the memo? :smiley:

We had a requirement for an 8min presentation sprung on us 1 week before the event. Only those who had been preselected for Design Award contention through submission of engineering notebooks 2 weeks prior would be interviewed. So if you arrived at the event with an engineering notebook you’d automatically be excluded from the Design Award.

From the kiwibots.co.nz website: “The Excellence Award in New Zealand is out of reach of teams-of-one!
So teams of 1 are automatically excluded from the excellence award too.

Here in New Zealand we don’t have that many teams and there is only 1 event where teams can potentially win a Design Award or Excellence Award so each season you get 1 shot only. At the World Championship you are excluded from these awards if you haven’t won them before during the season. So teams of 1 in NZ are automatically excluded from the Excellence Award in NZ and thus Excellence at Worlds. Design Award in NZ is prejudged before you even get to the event and talk with the judges about your notebook.

Cool huh?

I had trouble believing this until I searched it up for myself. I live across the world, so it’s not really my business, but if any teams are being automatically excluded from the Excellence Award, then it’s not really an Excellence Award. It’s not my place to argue about where World qualification spots should go, but if the Excellence Award won’t neccesarily go to the most Excellent Robot, then it should be renamed and the title of Excellence Award moved somewhere else.

If whoevers in charge feels great teamwork and community outreach should qualify for worlds, then so be it, but make the Teamwork Award/Outreach Award/Most Effective TEAM Award qualify, but don’t take value away from the Excellence Award by making it something it’s not.

Once again, not my place to say, just my thoughts.

Also, 7682 had a set of extremely impressive and inspiring robots and it’s a shame we won’t see them at worlds.

Best of luck guys:D

The email that was posted earlier by Jason (jpk_7682) clearly stated both: “entries for the Design Award are due in next week!” and “Please make sure that you get your design notebooks to me by 17:00 on Friday the 14th Feb at the latest. Late entries for any reason cannot be considered.” This makes it fairly obvious that if you arrived at the event with an engineering notebook you would not be considered. Furthermore it is not a worthwhile argument to state that your team does a lot of design work during the window between submission and the actual event. This is true for every team. However, every team should also be able to submit a design notebook before the window, unless they did not do ANY work prior. If it is the case that a team did not do any work prior, then Kiwibots have chosen that the team is not eligible for the design award.

Your choice of language (prejudged, and the sentence around it) seems to imply that you feel judges will not consider the interviews that teams are involved in. I will assume you are not claiming that the judges don’t care about getting it right. I’m sure you will have noticed from your time with robotics competitions that all the volunteers fully intend to get it right for their decisions. The judges do take everything into consideration, including the interviews.

Teams of 1 are indeed excluded from the excellence award. The award criteria from Toss Up Appendix D states: “This is the highest award presented in the VEX Robotics Competition. The recipient of this award is a team that exemplifies overall excellence in creating a high quality VEX robotics program.” (original emphasis). It then follows with: “This team excels in many areas and is a shining example of dedication, devotion, hard work and teamwork.” A program can not be just a single person. The second quote highlights this by specifically mentioning teamwork. Any idea that the excellence award is given to the best robot is simply false. That is not the definition given in the award criteria.

If you want to be eligible for design or excellence at worlds, could someone (not the Kiwibots) in New Zealand host a tournament and do judged awards how they are done at worlds? You only have to have won an award at any local tournament to be eligible at worlds. Maybe this isn’t possible, I don’t know, just an idea.

Also, thought it was pretty funny to see “A team will outperform a single person” at the bottom of the Kiwibots website.

Anyway, too bad you aren’t coming to worlds, you had great robots and an amazing programming skills. Good luck at FTC champs.

I can’t find a definition that says a “program” can’t be one person, if you have a link to one that’d be great. To add on, several, if not most one man teams have overarching “program” that includes several team members all with individual robots.

Teamwork also includes working with other teams at competition, if an one man team shows he/she can work effectively with other alliance members during qualifiers and eliminations, showing that they are “team players” by Kiwibot’s definition, why is that not considered teamwork?

Finally the way the excellence award is described is as such:

The first three criteria are **absolutely **robot performance, then the last one is linked to things like Design, Create, Amaze, etc. Awards that don’t necessarily exclude one-man-teams by your definitions.

Now I was never on a one-man team for robotics, but I find it incredibly unjust to exclude these teams from the excellence award and be constantly putting them down. Then to top it off by claiming “A team will outperform a single person” several times on your front page, I would like to see you guys back that one up…

Just thought I’d post a few of the solo teams I am aware of that have out-preformed more traditional teams.

-1103: no description needed here
-1458R from California, lost to 1103 in the 2011 u.s nationals in the finals.
-720P from New Zealand, won the nz world cup (was that what it was called?) back in gateway and got the amaze award at worlds (science division)
-5119z from the UK is going to worlds.
-And most of all 6A from California, you may have never heard of him before but he deservers a spot on this list. although being tournament champion at a regional might be insignificant compared to other teams on this list, he is on a list of his own because he is legally blind.

I am currently going solo but don’t feel like I disserve a spot in this list.

Pease stop putting people into boxes just because you wouldn’t do it that way yourself.

I believe you missed the point. No other teams in the world are required to submit engineering notebooks ahead of an event. Only 50 or so teams in NZ can’t show up at an event and be judged like the rest of the world. What if your last 2 weeks work are the difference between making it through prejudging or not and, hypothetically, the team aces the interview part? Oh sorry you just excluded them because they weren’t finished on time? Really?

There is no implication that judges don’t care about getting it right, your assumption is perfectly correct. They’re doing what they’ve been asked to do and their collective decisions are of course right. In order to preselect teams for interviews the judging panel is in essence creating a list of finalists which I why the term prejudging was used.

Be sure not to misinterpret these posts as questioning specific event judging outcomes. We’re all looking forward to a great 2014/2015 VRC season and I’m sure the new ladder system will provide plenty of excitement. There’s a blog post about the ladder system here http://kiwibots.co.nz/kiwiblog/entry/ladder-and-qualifying-for-the-2015-nationals

Agree totally it’s not a robot award, I think the person who posted that hasn’t read Appendix D recently :slight_smile:

It would be interesting to survey teams of 1 (and perhaps teams of >1 where 1 person does 95% of the work) and assess how many excellence awards have been attained. My money is on > 0.

How about considering this in a positive view - by submitting your design notebook 2 weeks in advance, this gives the judges a reasonable amount of time to properly read through your design notebook and appreciate the information within it instead of briefly skimming over it at Nationals while they are also quite busy. Won’t this give the judges a solid basis to work with so when you come to the presentation they know about your robot?

While two weeks seems a little bit odd to you that there is a two week deadline when EVERYONE was notified about this and even from the start of the season so why is it a concern? There will still most of a season to complete the book and there is still the presentation which you can talk about newer changes in.

With the 8 min presentation you seem surprised about - this also happens at Worlds and in previous years at Nationals there has always been a presentation so why should this change?, yes the design notebooks where handed in earlier but you would except that teams will still want to discuss and talk about their design notebooks to the judges so presentations seem like a no-brainer

This leaves me a little confused - In FLL you seem to be all about team work and how a minimum team should consist of at least three members or more and the competition has a large emphasis on teamwork and working with others so why should VEX change all this?

In the university/business world people will have to work in teams and they won’t have a choice to do everything themselves or will not be able to and lately I have noticed a large increase in an attitude of people wanting to do things solo. While this may have had some success in the VEX competition, it may not translate to other aspects where individuals will have to work with each other to achieve a common goal instead and may not always be able to do their own ideas. Team work in VEX can prepare people for this and many businesses will look to hire a team player over an individual who can do it all by themselves.

Just my two cents

So if everyone’s happy with these new changes can they be standardized and written into next season’s game manual? I’ve got no problem following the rules as officially stated. It’s the bending of rules that’s of concern. Submitting engineering notebooks 2 weeks in advance just isn’t necessary and probably just creates more work. Would it have made a difference to the NZ design award recipient this year or last year? Doubt it, so what is this early submission actually achieving? Great that some judges are dedicated enough to completely review notebooks ahead of the event but this is something that just can’t scale. It doesn’t take long to whittle the notebooks down to a smaller number and judges can always seek additional information from a team if necessary for final decision making. A VEX tournament is a VEX tournament and what you can’t fit in during the event shouldn’t happen.

There’s actually nothing stopping a team of 1 entering FLL or FTC for that matter. No automatic award exclusions. Granted teamwork is going to be challenging but who’s to say said team of 1 doesn’t collaborate with some other teams? Unless there’s an entry in the game manual Definitions section stating teams are 2 or more people then teams of 1 are permitted and shouldn’t be excluded in any way.

With little knowledge of the background to this argument, I would like to say that I think discouraging teams of one from participating in any way in such a valuable program is detestable. If a one man team can put together a robot and program it as well, or in cases such as that of 7682, better than most teams can, then why would you exclude them? Clearly the quality of their fantastic robot goes against everything that has been said about one man teams being lesser than full teams. One man teams should not be excluded from any award for that reason alone. That’s not fair at all.


As you have aired your obvious dislike for the way in which the Kiwibots run VEX in New Zealand on this public forum I feel that I have to respond on the same forum. I would have far preferred to have addressed your concerns in private but it has gone too far for that. We run a tight ship and know the rules very well. We co-ordinate New Zealand in such a way as to prepare the teams that qualify for the World Championships in every way possible.

Please understand that I am incredibly impressed with the programming skills of your son and that I believe he truly deserved to win the programming skills. I hope he is enjoying the iPad that he won as a result. I was saddened to hear that he would not be going to LA to prove that he was top of the world. That is your decision and I respect it.

We are here for the good of the students who are involved in the competition and it is a little disturbing that we are only hearing from you, the father of the two boys that make up teams 7682 and 7682E, rather than them.

Firstly the Design Award
The Design Award qualifies the team that wins it for the World Championships. In New Zealand this Award also carries with it, when we are able to muster the sponsorship, a return flight to Los Angeles and $2,000 to help the team get to the World Championships to represent New Zealand. I am sure there are VEX teams that are amazed with this support and wish they had it.

As it is such a prestigious Award we make every effort to ensure that the team that wins it have every chance of winning the Design Award at the World Championships and give as much guidance as teams want. We also hold the desires and directions of our sponsors and supporters in high regard. They have consistently stated that they are involved because of the Design Process that students learn and they want it encouraged.

Appendix D states "

At the 2014 VEX Robotics World Championship only teams that have previously won an Excellence or Design Award will be eligible to sign up for an interview time slot.

Teams eligible for this award at World Championship will be assigned a 10 minute time slot during which the team will set up and deliver a presentation to judges

The winning team will be able to describe how they implemented an efficient and productive design process to accomplish the project goals."

{Underlining in the above is mine}

We have found over the years that teams do not like to have their Design Award interviews/presentations to fall at the same time as they are due to be playing. This is especially true for teams of 1 as they have to decide whether to go to the interview or the match! On careful analysis of schedules and extensive experience we have found that we can fit around 10 design interviews in on the Saturday of our National Competition. This allows us to schedule interviews with teams for times when they are not competing and allow enough time for setup and breakdown. You may have noticed that the interviews were scheduled according to match start time not actual time. This is to avoid any confusion if the match start times shift. You may have also noticed that all of the matches at the nationals started within 3min of their scheduled time. This is an indication of how professional our volunteers are and how good a job they do. I believe we run an excellent competition and program.

In previous years we have had teams submit design notebooks that had less than 10 pages of content and were clearly not going to win the Design Award (again read the Design Award in Appendix D). They may have brilliant robots with fantastic quality but those attributes are recognised in other Awards.

In order to whittle the entries down to 10 or so we decided that the best way to do so was have a good look at the design notebooks in advance and pick the top contenders for the Award. This also gives us time to pay close attention to the huge effort that the students have put into their design notebooks. We have to draw a line somewhere and we have. That is not to say we will not fit in 11 or so teams if the judges cannot decide on only 10. Two weeks was chosen to give the judges 1 week to read through the design note books discuss them and give the teams at least 1 week to polish up/create their presentations. If a team seriously enters the Design Award they should have been working on a presentation anyway hence the polish up comment.

Contrary to your statement this process is extensible as we can have more judges doing the initial judging/filtering process as there is plenty of time but the same does not apply to the final interviews during the Nationals.

After that the selected teams all know that they are in with a good chance of winning the Design Award and that, as with the World Championships, they need to do a presentation at the Nationals. This is good practice for them and allows up to give feedback to them.

As a result we believe that the winners of the NZ Design Award stand a very good chance of winning the World Championships Design Award, or the best chance we can give them at this time.

We do not and will not consider that asking for the Design Notebooks two weeks in advance jeopardises teams chances in any way as ‘last minute’ designs will probably not meet the intent of the Award. There are Awards for those attributes, this is not the one.

All of our industry partners support our decision and structure surrounding the Design Award.

Excellence Award
This is the flagship award in New Zealand and goes to the team that we believe best represents the essence of what we are trying to achieve here. This Award also carries with it, when we are able to muster the sponsorship, two return flights to Los Angeles and $2,000 to help the team get to the World Championships to represent New Zealand.

As the team that wins this award will be New Zealand’s strongest candidate for the Excellence Award at the World Championships we are very careful in selecting the Award Recipient.

The winners of the Excellence Award go as New Zealand’s ambassadors for the program and show a deep involvement and understanding of every aspect of the competition.

We have spoken to the CEOs of several blue chip companies F&P Healthcare, Microsoft, Autodesk, SMC, Glidepath, DELL, Qantas and others and they all agree that we are on the right track and that teams of one do not fit the criteria. This does not go against the VEX rules and is the only case where we clearly state that such teams are not eligible. We do look closely at such teams to see if they have a deeper involvement than might appear and try not to exclude them but we have to be fair and let people know that they need to look outside themselves if they want to be considered for excellence.

We do not award the Excellence Award at any other events in New Zealand apart from the National Championship as we do not want to devalue the Award or give false hopes of winning the Excellence Award at the World Championships. Believe me the standard of the teams that win the Excellence Award at the World Championships is truly astounding and I wish they would come to New Zealand to show us what they do.

So far we have got it right as far as the Excellence Award is concerned and we see no reason to change what we do.

Teams of one
We in no way discourage teams of one from participating and welcome them as we do everybody that we can accommodate . What we do say is that they need to recognise that certain awards are not necessarily open to them in that they are putting themselves at a disadvantage for those awards. The weighting against them for the Excellence Award is so heavy that it is almost out of reach. This is not intended to be horrible or exclusive but is just openly stating the reality of the situation.

Commenting on individual team’s performance
As a rule I try to avoid commenting on who should have won what and why on an open forum as someone will always get hurt or offended. If you want to privately discuss the performance of both of your sons’ at the National Championships I will be more than happy to do so with you off line.

Thanks for the perhaps overly detailed response Chris. You’re right this is a public forum and not discussing how things work in New Zealand VEX here would make perfect sense so I’ll be sure to email you directly with any future concerns.

Regarding your comment “it is a little disturbing that we are only hearing from you”. Well Chris as a parent I make choices for my children. One of the boys is still in primary school and has no online presence so you won’t be seeing any responses from him. The other isn’t particularly interested in the intricacies of NZ VEX politics and just wants to get on with designing cool robots. Hopefully you can understand that I, as their robotics mentor, read the rules published by the RECF and wonder why things need to be different in New Zealand. Your comment was actually a little odd.

Your final comment regarding individual team performance is just wrong. There should outright never be any public discussion about judged award distribution before during or after an event. You used the phrase “As a rule I try to avoid commenting” and I think you meant to write “I do not comment”. If you read back through the thread there isn’t a question about who won what etc. and we’re just keen to know exactly where we stand regarding future competitions in New Zealand.

So in summary instead of having regional events that qualify teams for NZ Nationals we’ll be climbing the ladder http://kiwibots.co.nz/kiwiblog/entry/ladder-and-qualifying-for-the-2015-nationals to qualify. There is only 1 opportunity per season for ALL teams in NZ to earn a Design or Excellence Award and teams of 1 are all but excluded. The private feedback I gave you about the ladder system went unacknowledged and I assume ignored.

Out of respect for KiwiBots and sponsors I’ll crawl back under my rock :o See you next season and I’m really looking forward to Kiwibots winning big again at the VEX World Championship next month. Good luck to all competitors!