As a coach and mentor of a 2nd year team who has qualified for the US Open we are very excited to attend. Would any of you be willing to share you experiences at this event as well as must do’s and don’t for the event?
Congratulations in your US Open attendance! Its a great experience. Hectic, but a great experience. We have gone every year since 2015.
Some thoughts -
1 - bring a cart for your robot and tools to get from the pits to the competition. Its a bit of a haul if you are carrying things.
2 - Bring booth items - giveaways, wristbands, etc. Its fun for the kids to have something. We had Jolly Ranchers, small plastic army men, and printed business cards for pretty cheap at Vistaprint. Also, make or buy things like, banners, table cloths, christmas lights, and such for hanging. You get an I believe 10x10 booth space surrounded by “walls” (~2-3 foot high galvanized pipe frame with cloth curtains and a folding table with 2 chairs) for your pit for team gathering, working on your robot or whatever.
3 - If you have multiple teams, you get multiple pit spaces. Often teams will combine their pits and have a field area, a display area and a work area.
4 - bring a couple extension cords and power strips. I have a cord similar to this multiple outlets in the cable. Real convenient. I took some metal shower hangers and twisted them to an S shape so they can hang on the pipe that surrounds the booth and hang the cord in that.
5 - bring an extra table as well so you can have a table to work on, as well as one for your display.
6 - If you are lucky enough to get into the Country Inn on the expo site, have parents/mentors do some grocery shopping and have lunch and maybe some dinners in the hotel lunch room. Much cheaper to do that then get food in the venue or go out. PS - you cant bring in outside food to the venue. They will search you. They hassled me when I tried to walk in with coffee from the hotel - Really?!?!
7 - Be prepared for lots of people and a hectic time. The pits are in the convention rooms, the practice fields are in the hallways around the conference center, and all the matches are held in the stadium. Its hectic. Over 400 teams between high school and middle school are there. Long days - probably 12-13 hours in the center, plus morning and evening time. (but its fun)
If there are any specific questions, feel free to ask.
Is it any more hectic or busy than Worlds?
Somewhat, in the following respects…
1- Its more crowded. Moving anywhere seems more crowded than Worlds because of how things are arranged in the center. The halls are always full of people. I mean its over 400 teams, so I think its technically smaller than worlds, but it feels more crowded. In general, most are nice and make way, especially if you have a robot or cart of robot. but there’s always exceptions…
2 - With the qualifiers in the stadium, the pits in the conference rooms and the practice in the halls, you are always moving somewhere. See the illustration (hopefully my memory is somewhat correct…) - the red is where the middle school pits are, the blue is where the high school pits are, the red/blue hashed areas are the respective practice fields, the green is where all the matches are held. So… managing time is a priority for teams. Someone needs to be on point for who needs to be where. some sort of group messaging is just about a necessity.
As you can see, if you can get into the country inn, which is on site, your day is somewhat easier. I’m sure its full by now.
My teams have been going for 3 years now and love it. I think that it is not near as crowded but the competition is just as intense. Bring parts for sure since there is no store like at Worlds. Bring warm clothing for sure and be ready to walk for food. The food in there is not that good and is like typical event food. There is a high speed go cart track about 1/4 mile away that is AWESOME! I think it is called Joe’s Carting. Over all it is a great experience.
I would recommend making sure you are on time to everything. It was my first time qualifying for the U.S. Open last year and I didn’t know what to expect. I would make sure that you are on time to everything, ESPECIALLY inspection. Last year, I waited in line for probably 1 hour and 1/2 before I actually got to go through inspection. I wish I would’ve been a little bit earlier.
I am also a second year person and have qualified to US Open this year.
Here is something NOT to do:
Do they allow bottled water (in cases)?
Nothing from outside. Now… I’m sure sneaking is happening all the time, but… uhhhhh
Something big like that, no. Its not going to get in.
We had bags checked when coming into the facility, but if its buried in a box of parts, it will get in.
(nothing like protecting a monopoly…)
I have been going to the US Open since it was Nationals. This will be my 8th year, but my first as a spectator/mentor. Go and talk to other teams that you don’t see at your regular season tournaments, it is a great time to make new friends. Many of the robotics people I talk to are not from my region (Nebraska). I have in past years not done so well at Open and last year I won the US Open while on 8675A. Regardless of how you do in the tournament just have fun and be proud of yourself for making it that far! On a side note myself and other EKSDE members will be at the Open if anyone wants to talk to us and we may bring a robot or two and scrimmage teams, but no guarantees.