Our Thoughts on VEX IQ Worlds 2016

First I would like to congratulate REC Foundation for such a fantastic event. Even thou the event had more teams participating than the one held last year, the event seemed more organized. So basically, you guys did an awesome job.

The Kentucky Exposition Center
The first thing the kids noticed was that the Expo didn’t smelled as bad, as the previous year. They obviously shampooed some of the rugs, two thumbs up!

Hotels and Food near the Expo
One of the reason we loved the Worlds @ Anaheim was the great variety of places to stay and eat around the Convention Center. Last year, there was a lack of places to eat nearby, you basically had to drive around and after a long day all you want to do is eat and sleep. This year we noticed that one of the hotels nearby brought Food Trucks to a nearby location, so Bravo! for thinking out of the box.

REC Personnel and Volunteers
We had to talk to some of the REC Personnel and some volunteers and we found them to be very professional, and very courteous and willing to help. But… some of the volunteers at the inspection booths didn’t know the rules too well. For example, the volunteer thought that the robot had to be 13x13, and we had to explain him that 13x13 are the parts of the robot touching the field. We also had a high dumpster, and even though he verified we didn’t extend over 20 in the arc of motion, he didn’t verify if the robot was still under 20 when its arms were fully extended. I know that the robot didn’t extended over the 20 limit since when fully extended it was only 19 to allow some wiggle room just in case the robot leaned over a bit, but it was something that they forgot to verify at inspection.

Regarding judging my kids had 2 issues, that even though it didn’t affect us, they found it to be a bit unjust.

The first issue was regarding high dumpers. They saw dumpsters leaning way beyond the 20” and not getting DQ. They were only DQ if they actually touched the high goal. They didn’t liked it cause we were told at the forum that the robots under no circumstances could be over 20, not even if it was leaning over the fence. So the kids had to make their robot 19” (to allow some wiggle room in case it leans a bit), they had to add a ton of weight that made the robot run slower and they had to make the arms raise slower to avoid having the momentum have them lean over the allowed 20. So when they saw dumpsters leaning well over 20 and not getting DQ, they felt a bit cheated. It didn’t affect them too much since they were still scoring higher than the other dumpsters, but if one of them had noticed any of those dumpsters scoring higher by breaking the rules, they would had been disappointed.

The other issue they didn’t like was what happened to their partners at finals. They were teamed up with team 31029A from China. When they started to give out the programming prices, our teammates where very happy and ready to collect their 1[SUP]st[/SUP] place programming award, and they weren’t called to collect their price, instead another team was called. Those kids became really disappointed and where shocked to know they had been stripped of their prize. We feel that was not the time or place to let those kids know they had been stripped of their scores. They have their minds set on the finals, full of nerves and stress trying to concentrate on the routine they planned with their partners and then finding out that you got DQ just before your finals run that you got DQ from another price without any explanations, it felt wrong.

Later on, it was clarified that some teams had been taken of the list because either their programming begun with the joystick or the judges felt that the kids didn’t do the programming. We were able to talk to this team, unlike the other teams from China, they are from International school and they speak English very well, so my kids talked to their programmer. It turns out that their robot has an H-Drive, so for my kids would be fairly easy to program a routine to score a lot of points with that machine. We asked them if any of the judges asked them anything about their programming, and they said that none of the judges asked them about their programming routine (none of the judges asked us either about our programming routine). Their programmer seemed disappointed, he explained that last year they won 2[SUP]nd[/SUP] place, but this year they had won 1[SUP]st[/SUP] place, so we felt sorry for them. Now it is too late, but I think that for next year, give them a chance to defend themselves. Have them make a small program to prove that they really programmed the routine and not another person.

I also forgot to mention, that I noticed that between matches some robots where been inspected before or the match to make sure they comply. That was awesome, I don’t know what tipped you to do that, but that helped correct some of the issues that managed to correct some of the inspection flaws. Another Bravo for REC!

Overall, it was a fine event, more participants, more organized. It was a huge success and we loved every moment. I would like to thank REC Foundation for all the time a dedication they put to this event. Eager to see you all next year and keep up the good work.

I forgot to mention the Fields Setup

Field Setup
We found that the fields weren’t properly leveled, I understand that having them leveled in the practice area is difficult, but extra efforts should be made to level the fields specially the ones used at the Tournament and Skills. You could noticed that the fields weren’t leveled because the tiles on the border weren’t perfectly aligned. You could also noticed that on the different fields balls rolled to the sides and not on the specific direction of the motion. That affected dumper bots the most.

We also noticed that on one of the Tournament fields in the Science division, the pins used didn’t hold the scoring basket very well. The first dump on that field was perfected, but after the first dump, I’m not sure if the basket unclipped in the front or moved a bit backwards because all other dumps after the first one always missed balls. The same was also perceived by one of the Hawaii teams.

Several dumpsters had problems during their programming skills run in one of the fields. When the dumpster grabbed the balls next to the fence, got stuck. That never happened to us at school, or the practice fields at the competition. Only occurred on that field, later on talking to other teams we found out that it also occurred to one of the Hawaii teams as well as one from Indiana, and it had never occurred to any of them before. My guess would be that either fence holder wasn’t well clipped, or the tile was not properly placed making the black fence holder to be higher than it normally is, causing the robots to get stuck in it.

I know that it is the kids’ responsibility to check that all field elements are in place and correctly setup, but still extra efforts should be made by the event organizers to ensure that the competition fields are OK at all times. If the kids where to really check every aspect of the field before each run, we would all still be in KY.