Is Originality NOT Considered In The Judging of Design Awards?

I checked the Design Award Rubric, and cannot find it mentioning originality anywhere. I think VEX IQ should address this issue to discourage copy-cats.

I have seen designs that are very similar to some “youtube bots” winning the design award.

Another issue is that multiple teams from the same school often share the same exact chassis/module designs across the board. Can they all claim credit for the same design?

The Design Award is supposed to be focused on the design process, not necessarily originality. Check out the Awards Appendix for other awards like the Amaze, Build, and Create awards that focus more on the robot features instead of the process.

The judges guide mention “clone bots”, though not necessarily in the design award context. Either way, it’s hard to have a “design process” around “I have seen a YouTube video”, but there cound be a genuine and valid design process around 'We have seen this robot, thought it is a great general concept and designed our own implementation, subsystem by subsystem, to implement a similar scoring strategy". To some extent, of course - if the final product matches a well known design piece by piece… go figure.

I find the notebook to be one of the hardest thing for the elementary kids to do. They just don’t think on paper yet. They like to play with the pieces and come up with something. They watch the videos to get inspired, and we talk about it as they build. Build, try, fix. Build, try, fix. The notebook becomes a record of what happened, rather than a guide for what to do. They do a pretty good job evaluating their designs and writing that down though.
I wish there was a criteria for originality. To me, copying the bots on Youtube is competing using someone else’s bot. I don’t know how you would regulate that though. How many changes must you make before it is not a copy anymore? Also, sometimes they come to a similar robot through a different design process.
And, there is a difference between a copy bot and a modified Stretch. We use Stretch and Clawbot to teach beginners. Beginners can’t just grab pieces and build a bot. They need to see how everything works first, so I love that Vex provides those instructions, and that Stretch gets new kids competing quickly.
If your students are skilled enough to copy a YOUtube bot, your students are skilled enough to make their own design.

The hardest part of “regulation” it that volunteer judges, unless well involved in the program, are generally unaware of known published designs and could at best recognize clones on that single competition.

You need to look at the Design Rubric, and there isn’t an place in it about original designs. They want to see the design process, and more they want to see the design iteration. I was the Judge Advocate at the PA States. Even the notebooks that started with ideas from some place showed how they made improvements. We also saw teams that took multiple design elements (like claws) off of different places, do analysis and then pick one to put on the robot. And in those cases, I hadn’t see most of the individual parts. So Nenik’s point about volunteers is spot on.