Judge interview horrors

Whats the worst thing your team members have done during a judges interview?
One of my horror stories was that two kids where throwing a wheel back and forth and it hit a judge.

We had a case where we had built our 5th robot the night before and it was basically a pushbot with a single arm. We went to the interview and the judge did not like the robot as it was built in a few hours, and we also forgot to cover our nametags so we all had different letters on from our school (we hosted 5 robots). He ended up ending the interview early and asking us to leave. I am still unsure why this happened as neither of the things I noticed should have caused it to end that badly. All of the other interviews that I have had have gone well, including with the other robots at the same competition.

At states Skyrise season, they said they loved the design, but our notebook was terrible (it was). They told us they were holding us off so the Class A rank notebooks got an interview chance.

We got the Excellence, so it’s a good thing we went there a while before the deadline.

We’re trying to make a great notebook this year.

For skyrise states, our robot was just a claw bot with next to no sensors on it as we had just got them. Our autonomous took a long time to get just right and we were proud of it. It scored 4 points, 3 consistently. The judges straight up laughed at use when we told them that. All I can say is it was the first time one of our 5 bots went to state so it was definitely just a learning experience.

When the judges are not moved or involved or amused in any way when you and your teammates are giving the presentation and talking about all the designs, although you know you’re super prepared and put a lot of time into the design interview. And when the time’s up, the head judge simply says, “well, that’s certainly a lot of information. And so is your engineering notebook. And we appreciate that very much.”

Well, it happens sometimes. When your only purpose of talking to judges is to impress them and convince them to give you a trophy.

My experience is, it is good to be competitive. But when winning is the only thing that matters in your eyes, everything breaks down and the fun doesn’t exist anymore. And judges are able to see that. They always value things beyond simply the criteria.

Always try to have fun with VEX. Or things will get scary.

Well said Martin.

The worst experience I’ve ever had with an interview was my first one. In Skyrise, I have built and disassembled my robot several times (I started with my lift being a rd4b, then an 8 bar, then an scissor lift, then finally I settled with a 6 bar. My school had absolutely no aluminum parts which would have greatly helped because all the issues my lifts had were weights issues.) and a week before a tournament, my robot’s scissor lift broke and I decided to shift into an easy 6-bar. I finished building it alone (my team had supposedly two builders and one programmer) including programming the robot.

Then came tournament day…

I was absolutely caught off guard with the interview because I had not participated in a tournament before. My driver/other builder stood next to me as I tried to explain to the judges why I had not prepared an engineering notebook. My programmer was off helping a sister team and my other team mate stood by me and said nothing but was there to look pretty.

In the end, we pulled through, in my opinion. I thought the judges didn’t see us as pathetic as we actually were, but we won no award.

Moral of the story: Pick team members who care about your robot just as much as you do. Since my team members didn’t care as much, they made no effort whatsoever to know what is does. All the knew was literally “This button opens the claw. This one lifts the arm. This joystick moves the left side.”

This isn’t quite a horror story, but as a judge, I was taken aback when a team student asked, “Why are we doing this interview?” When we told the team, “There are things other than points that are worth evaluating,” a quizzical look, then huge smile erupted, followed by, “That rocks!” Sometimes it’s nice to be caught off guard.

I have to admit that I cringed when I saw the title of this thread, fearing a recounting of all the horrible things that judges had done. I appreciate seeing teams not taking themselves too seriously.

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Our club went down to Northridge for a tournament once. Half of our team used Apple Maps to go to lunch and didn’t return in time for our presentation, and the other half was caught off guard. We ended up just answering questions to the judges. The team members off to lunch, including our DRIVER, ended up missing 2 matches too and I had to drive! Never using Apple Maps again :stuck_out_tongue:

By the way, this is the reborn account of the driver coach of ATOM 243A…Good to be back.

This incident didn’t really relate to the horror of the judging, but rather the tournament itself…
I remember at State (before I switched teams, when I was in 243A) the huge expanse of the high school it was being hosted at was torture for us, in every single way; how long it took to get to the fields from the pit, how risky it was to forget something before a match (forgot to pump the air, etc.), and how tiring it was to carry the heavy robot everywhere. Since I was the one who got stuck carrying the robot for some reason (I mean, we had boys. They were just lazy.) I had to do all the timing of when each match began, etc.

Not to mention that at State the judging is extremely important. We got into Worlds last year because of judging and the Design Award.
Since everything was so spread out, the team actually had to go judge during the “hotspot” right after lunch because we had no time otherwise in our schedule. (We usually avoid this time because we believe that after lunch judges get sleepy and before lunch judges are hungry and grumpy) We spent 5 minutes hunting around for the judging room (well hidden) and during the entire time I was unable to relax and kept checking the time, etc., which I’m sure is something judges frown down upon…

Luckily, our team was well structured (3 girls 2 boys) and the two sixth grade boys might have looked cute to the innocent stranger, and we did pretty well regardless.

Needless to say, we almost missed a pretty important match. The judging period was stressful and I kept distracting my teammates by bumping into them and whispering the time. But I’m still so thankful for the judges for letting my past team go to Worlds with my current team :slight_smile:

So, well, not that horrifying. Stressful, but still rewarding.

At one of our first competitions in, I think, Toss Up, we weren’t really sure how the judging worked, and didn’t have an engineering notebook. We had to spend a lot of time fixing and testing the robot on the practice field, and that with some other things meant we were somehow never in the pits, and the judges never had a chance to talk to us.

Once we noticed that there were judges and we hadn’t talked to any, the judging was already over, but our teacher somehow managed to get them to come back and talk to us. We were not prepared at all and had no idea what to talk about, and the judges didn’t seem interested at all. I don’t think we did too bad, but of course we didn’t get any awards.

At states during skyrise, we had an amazing interview with a spectacular notebook. The interview was almost rehearsed due to the fact that every team member had a specific topic to talk about (except for one girl who had no idea because she never showed up, but still took credit).
However later in the day there was a dispute because three teams had also done as well as us. So there was a second judges interview where they had the head judge and his assistant come and interview the teams personally.
His plan was to ask the wrong questions to the wrong people: He asked our note-booker about the physics of calculating torque needed on the lift, our driver about the programming, and me about driving (I was the programmer). I ended up knowing all the answers because I had spent weeks working on the robot by myself. However, the other teams fared even worse and we ended up getting the Excellence award.

P.S. Speaking of terrible tournaments: because of the weather, this tournament was two days and only 7 matches each instead of 10(due to snow needing them to be cancelled). Somehow, a single man clawbot/10-bar managed to make it to second place by being carried due to the random number generator stacking a lot of the games.

One of our team members was caught off guard and only answered a question with the word “What?”. Apparently he only asked that question, and then walked away. A few minutes later, he realized his mistake, realizing it was a judge.

At our first competition ever for vex, in a design interview, the judge told us that our robot was much better then any robot his teams had ever built. When we asked what team number his team was, we found his team was 2nd place. Not really horrifying, but it happened.

I’ve only been through two interviews, and that was this year, and we have won the excellence and design award, so I’m assuming we haven’t had anything bad happen.

At our second competition one of our members mentioned that our other members weren’t in there for the interview, so the judges were left with a disappointed face. Everyone had already been warned to not mention anyone that wasn’t in there, so hopefully it won’t happen again this weekend :stuck_out_tongue:

One of my worst judge interviews is when they go to look at our not book and we don’t have it… I left it at the school…:o

Martin Ma writes the greatest words of Vex wisdom here.

Also, keep in mind that judges are just people and they are often people who don’t necessarily know as much as they should about what’s going on. I’ve seen the judging thing from both sides of the curtain and it’s a far from perfect process, especially at the local level. Sometimes judges are called up to serve as judges the night before and often they have little or no technical background.

At one event in which I was a judge, I served the entire day with a group of judges, some of whom had very strong opinions about who should get which awards, etc. Then, near the end of the day, when we went to the fields to catch the Finals and some of the judges started asking me questions about what was happening, I began to realize these judges had never even seen a Vex match before. They had no idea how the game was even supposed to be played. :confused:

On the other side, my kids were once judged by a couple of people, one of whom almost never looked up from her cell phone, facetiming and texting the entire time. When one of our parents bothered to complain about how it didn’t look good to the kids to see that, the officials later sent over another judge, who listened to my kids for a little while but then started bragging about how well her own team was doing in the competition. :eek:

My best advice is to do your best, have fun, and relax around the judges. Tell them what you did and why you did it, and whatever you do, don’t try to snow them about things you aren’t sure about, and don’t get upset if they don’t seem to be impressed: some judges are just downright clueless. If you sense the judges have technical skills, you might even milk them for suggestions. Engineering personalities love to show off what they know, especially the old ones, so if you make them feel relevant by asking some questions, that might impress them more than anything. :slight_smile:

I remember in my first tournament, my team left me alone and a judge came. I had to try and explain the robot until they got back, and I did it! We won the excellence award that tournament, too!

I remember a tournament my team just went to where we spoke to judges in the pits and it was really loud. Then the judges could barely even hear us. Lol.

At Worlds last year, our team really screwed our interview up. When the judges asked questions about the robot, only 2 out of the 20 team members were able to answer questions, so the rest of the team just played around behind us in the pits. We even had a kid sleeping on the floor, and two people were tying his shoes to a chair. Eventually, the judges gave up trying to get the rest of the team to answer questions about the robot, and started asking about things like community outreach. That interview was terrible, and, needless to say, we won no awards. Hopefully we will be better at interviews this year.

That was your cue to point to the kids goofing off behind you and saying something about how you had partnered with a community organization that specialized in helping kids with behavior problems. And you brought them all to Worlds as part of their therapy.

At that moment, you would have looked like saints. :wink: