Awards at Events

We are getting ready to hold 8 different events (about one per month) in the Philadelphia area. Most of the events are in the 18-28 team size. At each event we will have the following awards:

*]“Tournament Champion” (one for each team)
*]“Robot Skills Champion” (if the event size lets this team qualify for Worlds)
*]“Programming Skills Champion” (if the event size lets this team qualify for Worlds)

We would like to give (a few) additional awards. There are lots of judged and non-judged awards that can be given. I’m looking for input on the ~4-6 other awards to give out. From the list below can you tell me what your top choices would be? Of course I could always take the easy road and get 4 judges awards and let them be anything :rolleyes:

*]“Robot Skills Champion” - Give these awards even if the team does not qual for Worlds
*]“Programming Skills Champion” - Give these awards even if the team does not qual for Worlds
*]“Robot Skills 2nd Place”
*]“Programming Skills 2nd Place”
*]“Judges Award”

I can give you my opinion as an event partner for the Washington events. As you know, however, event partners can pick any awards they wish off the list, and some even make up their own. In British Columbia, for example, they make a custom trophy for “Rookie Team of the Year.” There is no official RECF suggestion list for trophies for events (other than winners and Excellence).

We always give these at our events:

Tournament Finalists (3 trophies)
Robot Skills Champion
Programming Skills Champion
Amaze – I think of this as the top all-around award after Excellence
Innovate – Rewards engineering creativity
Build – Rewards construction quality
Think – Rewards robot programming
Judges – We ALWAYS give a Judges award. If nothing else, it gives the Judges the ability to reward a team for something that isn’t normally covered.

Personally, I believe the following awards are best for a very large event or the World Championships:

Judges Award

My sentiments exactly. I’ve judged a few events for Foster, and the quality of teams in the area is way too high to only give one judged award. The list you posted above covers the minimum of what should be recognized at an engineering competition, something from each aspect of the engineering problem. In my book, more awards means more proud school districts/parent organizations/sponsors, which, in theory, means a higher team retention rate. Student’s accomplish so much in this program, I think it’s only fair to reward them appropriately.

To Rick Tyler’s list, I would add:

Design - with an emphasis on the engineering process (notebooks welcome!)
Cooperate/Community - These 2 awards are separate in VRC, but FTC puts them together (Connect), and I think there’s some merit to that. We receive from the community, and we give back, and it’s good to acknowledge teams that do this effectively.

I have put a lot of thought into it, and the one award that I would really like to see more of is the Future Award. I was completely unprepared for it last year at Worlds. I had plenty of experience with the Create, Design, Innovate, all of those, but I don’t think I ever saw the Future… Just a thought…

Obviously, I would say definitely do the challenges. While a really big robot might perform well in rounds, a small fast robot could do better in a challenge, thus expanding the number of teams that can go to Worlds.

Other than those, I think all the awards can be split into a couple main areas:
Robot Design/Construction: This would include the Innovate, Design, (my personal favorite… I’ll discuss that below) Create, etc…
Community/Communication: Design, Educate, Community, Unite, Promote, etc…
People: Volunteer, Mentor, Teacher, Partner, etc…

Out of all the awards, I personally like the Design, Community and Future Awards. I guess because these ones go way beyond just the team. They are more than just building or programming, and you won’t really know the affects of your labors for many years to come.

I like the Design Award, and I think that it should be at every competition because it forces people to write. It makes them think through how they built their robot, what kind of processes they used, and how they could make it better. But it also gets them in the habit of documenting their labors, which if they become an engineer or scientist later, they will absolutely need that skill.

The Community Award is amazing because it makes the team return back from where they get a lot of their support. Obviously smaller teams can’t do as much, but it is always exciting to see kids inspiring other kids, letting random people come and drive robots, getting kids and parents alike excited about robotics, science and math, and really making a difference in the next generation. This is the one that I think has the most lasting affects. I mean, by inspiring a handful of kids to pursue math and science, we could be altering the future in some amazing way.

And now the Future Award. It seems like this is perhaps the least-known award, and yet it can have the most possibilities. I like the fact that it forces the student(s) to actually talk, and do a professional presentation. While it might not be the most yielding award, I know I have found that people are much more willing to give money to a team that can actually present what they are doing in a professional manner, especially when they show the impact they are having on the future.

All of the awards share a lot of overlap. It is really a giant Venn Diagram, and I guess I just like seeing more of the non-robot awards. I mean, sure, it is robotics, but being able to share what you learn, how you learned and what you are changing in the future is perhaps more important than the actual material you learned…

So in short, I would like to see more awards that don’t deal specifically with the robot.

If you want a reason to disregard this, then just chalk it up to the rants of a PR/Fundraising guy… :stuck_out_tongue:

As someone who has spent a lot of time in judging rooms at events both large and smaller the past 2+ years I want to caution you that letting the awards be for anything is not necessarily an easier road, although I can see why it would seem that way.

The Judging package is hard work: Recruiting a variety of judges to meet the goals of the event, “team building” and training to ask the right kinds of questions, figuring out the logistics, too much to do in too little time, hard choices that usually involve lots of debate, writing scripts, adapting to changes in the event schedule and follow up.

I have also been involved in events that created new awards to suit their events.

As RECF events continue to grow I hope that the awards and judging process will continue to evolve to help all the hard working event partners (and Judge Advisors). There are some great awards that could be added if RECF and VEX feel the “outside robot performance” is something they want to highlight. Assistance with scaling awards based on the size of event is needed, but it looks the community has stepped up to do that with some great dialogue in this thread.

And this is the driving force behind my question. Andrew and the KTOR team are my “go to Judges” for the events. I want to be able to give them a running start on the awards for this year. They and the roboteers coming to the events work hard and it’s important to make sure they have a variety of awards to give out (and receive). Most of the time we just do the engineering awards. The comments by unclejoe and ManicMechanic about the Design award will move it to the front of the list.

I voiced a concern at the Mid-Atlantic partners meeting about the “venn-diagram” issue. There seems to be lots and lots of overlap around the awards. It would be nice if they had some clearer boundary.

Comments about the non-engineering awards is interesting. I don’t know how much extra work that will be for the judges, a conversation that I’ll need to have with Andrew. The Future award is cool, the Downingtown team spent hours working on theirs for Worlds.

I’m leaning towards: Design, Build, Think and a Judges award that they can use to reward that special team. I’m split between Amaze and Innovate or one of the non-robot awards for the fifth.

I have noticed that often the non-Robot awards are earned by all the members of a club or school that combines all of their teams (outside of the tournament) to do non-Robot stuff, but divides into teams to do robot stuff.

Right now the award system doesn’t offer a way to give an award to a group of teams (the total club or school). Until that part of the process matures, expect some consternation as you try to fit some of the non-robot awards (square pegs) into the current process (round holes).


In my one FTC event ever, my favorite award was a Motivate Award. At the event they gave it to the most energetic / helpful team at the event that “kept the teams going”. It was given to a team that helped rebuild a robot that ended up on the Winning Alliance, keeping that team in the game until the very end.

just my two cents.

I’m not sure how rigid other events are, but at one event I saw a non-advancing award given to the A & B teams from the same school. On the award, it simply had the team’s root number without the A or B. It seemed like a relatively painless way to deal with the situation you described.

More complicated would be affiliated teams with different root numbers. On the other hand, if the teams are all from the same school, writing multiple team numbers on the award would not be an issue, since the award would still go into the same display case.

Yeah - and then you attempt to use the RECF/Vex online system to record who earned the award and it only accepts a specific team number…

Recording who earned the award isn’t a huge problem; but in the bigger picture, the important Excellence award is affected by the underlying problem. A club or school, as a whole, could stand head an shoulders above all others in a tournament when judged as a group, but each individual team (1-6 people) from that group might not because of each team’s specialized contributions.

In that situation, which team has earned the Excellence award? A team of 10 students from another club who are mediocre in all categories, or a team of 3 students from the original club who are outstanding in one or two domains, stink in the rest, and but show up when the other members of their club are doing great things.

VRC obviously carries some baggage inherited through FVC from FRC. In FRC, there is almost always only one robot per club/school, and if the club or school is doing many things, it invests the time and energies of many students in activities other than the one robot. Teams thereby earn a Chairman’s award. Teams and clubs/schools are synonymous.

In VRC (and FTC), the student to robot ratio that existed/exists in FRC has been stood on its head. If that difference is important - and I think it definitely is - the judging and award system must take that change into account, or it will create confusion and trouble. We should carefully examine the VRC awards and create clear distinctions between those with criteria that recognize success in domains that (almost always) require the efforts of many people, from those that aim to recognize the successes of one machine’s developers.

PS: I’m not saying that a single exceptional team of 2-3 students can’t earn, or shouldn’t be able to earn, the VRC Excellence award (or ay other). I am saying that the current VRC award criteria still are muddled by the one team = one club/school perspective that infuses FRC. VRC is not FRC.

I suggest that a VRC Excellence (or Community, or Spirit, or…) award given to a single VRC team should not attempt to be the same thing as an FRC Chairman’s award given to an entire club/school.

One way to accomplish my suggestion is to give some VRC awards to entire clubs/schools instead of individual teams. More fundamentally, tuning award criteria to match the VRC goals and experience should continue. That is a bigger topic.

It would be cool if the “group of teams” could tell the judges which team they would prefer win the Excellence Award if it’s awarded to an entire group, so that more of that school’s team could advance to Worlds than just the best robot. Perhaps a “priority list” be turned into judges at an event?

Take a look at last year’s awards appendix: The Future Award is given to a club or school, not to a single team:

Future Award: The “Future” award is presented to the “school” or “club” that demonstrates how the efforts of their team(s) are improving their school and/or local community, along with showing a vision of the impact this will have on their future. This is your opportunity to show judges how your VEX Robotics team(s) are making an impact in your community and are helping to advance awareness, appreciation and adoption of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math). These teams are encouraged to give the judges hope and optimism that the students of today will improve the world as the future innovators, problem solvers and leaders of tomorrow.

The Unite Award is a school award:

Unite Award: The “Unite” award is presented to a school that has built a sustainable multi team robotics program. This award recognizes a school that demonstrates the ability to field multiple independent robotics teams which also work and collaborate together to enrich the experience of all students involved. Student access, a positive competitive atmosphere and a unity of vision among independent teams are key factors in receiving this prestigious award.

Ah, without any fanfare (that I recall - but my memory is definitely fallible) I see that last year’s rules did improve on the previous year’s by introducing the changes Rick listed. However, there are still places where that version of Appendix E still refers to a “team” instead of “team(s) when discussing those two awards”.

Can we improve on that by literally dividing the awards into two separate groups/listings, and by completely removing the word “team” from the prose associated with the awards that will be earned by a club or school, instead of by a team?


I didn’t realize this – no wonder that event only posted its advancing awards that year!

Then, you have “teams” like ours that make life even more complicated by further blurring the line. From this post, we got permission to use a member on multiple teams. We had 10 students, 2 registered teams with 2 robots and honestly had intended to keep them separate. Then 1.5 builders decided they only wanted to journal and kept the journal for both teams (one was only there about 1/2 the time). The lack of builders on the rookie robot meant that one bot would need help to get rolling on the ground, so a couple veterans stepped in to give assistance, and the personnel crossing the lines continued en masse. By the time we were finished, both bots had the fingerprints of all 10 members on them. Because our total never exceeded 10, we felt we could send all 10 members to both interviews in good conscience, and in fact, the judges decided to grant only 1 interview, since it would be the same people. I don’t know what we would have done with more than 10 members.

Had we been told that having 2 robots/2 teams with the same 10 members was illegal, I think we would have grounded the rookie bot and competed with only one robot as one team. As it was, there was maximum exposure for the students (double the number of drivers and coaches), with maximum assistance/cooperation between students, which I consider the best of all worlds.

Sorting out the ramifications of all these possibilities is a job I’m glad that I don’t have :o

The concern I have from what you describe here is that you did not do what you asked permisssion for. Here is an except of what you asked, and were given permission to do:

Obviously your builders were not separated, so I don’t think you should have assumed that it would be OK to “share” the entire team since you explicitly stated that would not be the case. I’m not saying it was illegal, just that before you let that happen you should have gone back to get clarification to see if it would be legal. Imagine if you got to an event and were disqualified because of the “shared” students.

I personally do not agree with the idea of a single “team” of 10 students building multiple robots and entering them as multiple teams. If you take this a step further what would stop one of the more dominant teams from simply building 3 copies of their robot and entering as 3 separate teams. I’m new to VEX, but have been involved with FRC and FTC for several years and think this goes against the spirit of what the competitions are about.

I am coaching two teams of 6 students each this year, one middle school aged and one high school aged. While we did some brainstorming together, all decisions and building happens within their own team. A couple times some of the more experienced high school students have helped act as a mentor to the younger team when they have hit roadblocks, but they are not making decisions for the younger team or building the robot for them.

There is my $.02 worth.


There is nothing that prevents this now, other than peer pressure.
10 students build one really good robot. Some of those students register as two new teams. The two new teams flatter the original robot, by imitating it.

Or twenty teams from around the world see the original robot on YouTube and flatter it.

One crucial difference between VRC and FTC is that VRC encourages (more successfully) tournament organizers to fill a season with opportunities to compete, learn, and improve (improve both the team and the machine you put on the field). For that reason, the “dominant” team had better improve on their robot throughout the season, not just create a couple of copies and then expect the rest of the world to sit still.


In FRC, FTC, and VRC, the general assumption is, “If it’s not prohibited by the rules, it’s legal.”

That year, the specific rules that were pertinent and I was careful not to violate:

  1. A team may not have more than 10 students.
  2. A single team may not enter 2 (or more robots) in the competition

However, there was no rule that year stating that members were not allowed to be on more than one team. I had planned to simply assume that no rule meant no prohibition, but thought I’d check with VRC to verify this.

Perhaps I should have stated my question more generically, as “May any students be members of more than one team?”, then given my specific situation. I interpreted VRC’s response not only as permission for my specific situation but more as clarification of the unstated rule: no prohibition is given for one or more members to be on 2 teams, so members being on multiple teams is permissible.

I did not interpret the response to mean, “You may have 1.5 programmers on multiple teams but not 2 or 3 programmers,” nor to mean, “You may 1.5 programmers on multiple teams, but not 1.5 builders,” and thus, did not even think about whether I would need to check again on a variation of the original theme of a given member belonging to multiple teams.

One reason I wanted to report this situation in this thread is that rules do change from year to year based on whether enough people feel that the lack of a rule has caused enough problems to warrant a change. If enough people feel that the situation I described should not be allowed in future years, and if VRC creates rules to prevent it, we will be happy to comply with/abide by those rules. In our situation, the most likely solution would be to enter all 10 students but only one robot (the “better” one) in the competition, which would comply with all rules, including even a hypothetical rule change.

I understand, and agree, with the basic premise. I didn’t see this in FTC, but that may be because FTC isn’t that popular in Indiana. I’ve seen something similar in FRC with teams from multiple schools creating a single design and then each team building the same robot.

I know it is legal, I just disagree with it from a philosophical standpoint. I also disagree with adults acting as the on field coaches, but again that is just my viewpoint.

FRC, FTC and VRC are all great programs and I am thankful that there are opportunities for me to be able to mentor the students and for my kids to be able to participate.


At RECF we have tried to keep the rules simple to give local event partners the flexibility to meet local STEM educational goals and to not bury students in volumes of pseudo-legalese. I’m sure that we will continue to change rules to cover situations when teams are not being well-served, but I think it’s safe to say that we will err on the side of doing our best to meet our core mission of getting students excited about science, technology, engineering, and math through classroom robotics and after-school competition with the least possible fuss. We think students are excited by engineering and building robots – not playing lawyer with complex rules.

We appreciate the continuing contributions of volunteers, students, and coaches. There aren’t many people working here at RECF and the program would not exist without your excellent support.