Award distribution/ fairness

The new way that interviews work this year is that judges pick the top 10 notebooks and interview those teams for the design or excellence award. There is no variation between high school and middle school teams for this, meaning that one middle school team can be picked for their notebook, be the only team interviewed and have an instant excellence award.

I was at a tournament recently where this happened and thought it was very weird that there was only one middle school team interviewed. I looked into it and found this rule on notebook picking.

I propose that it is changed to pick the top 10 middle school and top 10 high school teams to keep this from happening.

As someone that just ran a mixed event:

  1. We gave out only one Excellence award, so it was for the event.
  2. Doing 10 and 10 would not be practical with the amount of time. So it would get cut to 5 and 5. It’s a mess now interviewing 10 teams AFTER doing the notebook judging, doubling the teams would make it harder.
  3. If it’s a mixed event would you also want the MS Champions and the HS Champions?

From the Judge Guide 2019-2010
Inclusion: Only a limited number of teams at an event will earn a judged award. However, every team at an event should be interviewed by Judges regardless of their status for a Judged award.

See my post about this and the word “should”.

I don’t see anything the states only 10 teams are interviewed for excellence. Or that there is only one list when middle school and high school are given that award.

Remember (also from the guide):
Common Sense: When reading and applying the rules, criteria, and processes in this document, please remember that common sense always applies.


I guess, that depends on what someone would count as an interview.

Usually full set of judges splits into pairs to visit and talk to every team in the pits (aka ~5 min Pit Interview).

Then, after reviewing notebooks and pit interview notes, about 5 middle and 5 high school teams are invited for the more extended 10-15 min interview by all division judges.

If mixed event stuff knew in advance that they are going to be giving out separate Excellence awards it was, probably, a lack of planning or miscommunication to interview only one MS team.


I think you are mistaking the short pit interview with the in-depth Design & Excellence Award interviews. They are different things. All teams should (time & resources permitting!) get a short pit interview. Only the top contenders for Design and Excellence Awards get an in-depth interview and potentially a cross-interview. Top contenders are those with outstanding engineering notebooks.

See judges guide page 12:

Sort the Engineering Notebooks and identify teams with Outstanding Engineering Notebooks using the first page of the Design Award Rubric. This may be done by a Judge Team as assigned by the Judge Advisor. Teams with outstanding Engineering Notebooks will be contenders for the Design and Excellence Awards. The judging process for these awards is detailed later in this guide.

Interview teams as assigned by the Judge Advisor. Interviews should be conducted in the Pit Area. All teams will be interviewed but contenders for the Design and Excellence Awards will have more in-depth interviews and may be cross-interviewed by different Judge Teams. The Judge Advisor will assign additional interviews as needed during the event.

Page 15:

Fully Developed Engineering Notebooks will contain much detail, will include detailed drawings, will include tests and test results, will include solutions to problems the team encountered, and will be a complete record of the design process. These are usually turned in by teams with a developed robotics program and a strong emphasis on the design process. These teams may be contenders for the Design award. These shall be roughly the top 10 teams or top 30% of teams (whichever is larger).

Excellence Award winners are heavily linked with Design Award contenders; judges do EA judging after DA contenders are interviewed and ranked (page 16).

Judges guide page 16:

If two Excellence Awards are offered, the Judge Team shall rank all teams at each level with Outstanding Engineering Notebooks. Refer to the heading titled, “Blended Events” in the section, “Judging the Excellence Award” for more information on blended events.

Sounds like if 2 EA were given then the teams should have been ranked by level; as @technik3k said, probably planning or miscommunication issue. EPs and their volunteer staff are, after all, only human!


2 random additional thoughts

  • How did you determine that only 1 MS team was interviewed for Design and Excellence? Asking every attending MS team? Because this normally would not be something that is revealed to anyone outside the judging team.
  • How many MS teams were there? If there were not enough teams to offer 2 separate Excellence Awards, they should only have presented 1 (and they would only have 1 list for interviewing teams, not separated by level).

Sorry, I guess I wasn’t clear. All teams get an interview and an EP is not limited to giving only ten teams getting an interview for design or excellence. “… please remember that common sense always applies.” (pg 8)

If you follow my link you’ll see I was pointing out the key word is “should” , not “must” or “only”.

Good job finding all the places in the Judges Guide to support two lists.

Also of note is that even though 2 excellence awards must be offer, neither must be given if no team has a quality notebook, etc. (pg 15)

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I have a question about interviews. At space city, I got interviewed twice. Is this because of the selection process? At the time I assumed it was a mistake and they redid it on accident, but now I’m not so sure

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This typically means your team was in contention for a judges award. You can find the judge guide with the rubric here:

There was a ms and hs award, and I did ask all of the ms teams (there were 10 I think).

Did you also ask them if they submitted an EN? It could have just been the situation where there were no other qualified teams at the MS level.

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