What exactly is a "program" insofar as the Excellence Award is concerned?

The Vex Excellence Award presentation script reads like this:

“The Excellence Award is given to the overall top team. It is the highest honor given out in the VEX Robotics Competition. The recipient of this award is a team that exemplifies overall excellence in creating a high quality VEX robotics program…”

For years, I’ve puzzled over what is meant by the word “program” in this context. I’ve asked numerous people, but nobody seems to really know. It seems to me that teams win the Excellence award, so it’s not like the school or organization wins it. And I’m not sure what a team with a program looks like vs. one without a program. Can somebody please clue me in on what the word “program” means in this regard? Thanks.

To the best of my understanding, the general idea is that, to get the Excellence Award, a team should excel outside of competitions in the forms of community outreach, encouraging learning, etc.

I see the “program” as the whole group of teams (we have 14 different teams right now), and as a whole group we do things like promote robotics and STEM education and do community service projects. Unfortunately, that is not how the system works when awards are entered: a specific team has to receive the award. At last year’s Michigan State competition, the Judges award went to both of our high school teams together to recognize our community service work we do as a program, but it is only recorded as going to 3547B. Doesn’t quite seem fair to all the other kids who also worked at the events.

For the program part, teams from one organization are indeed generally judged as a group. However, there are more criteria for the Excellence Award (such as performance and journal quality) that vary between individual teams of an organization, allowing the judges to choose only a single team.

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I think, in context, it is a confusing use of “program,” but that you are over complicating it. Program can mean a collection of teams, but here it means the collected efforts of one team. The entirety of what one team does to create success is its program. As in “To achieve better health, one must follow a program that includes diet and exercise.” An excellent vex team’s program includes design, build, teamwork, tactics, strategy, etc.

I’ve heard of judges that say that this language means that the excellence award should go to large teams. I think it’s ridiculous to say that just because a team has a lot of members, they are more excellent than a smaller team. Like others have said, I think program is meant to reference noteworthy things that a team does outside of performance at a competition.


Seriously, this is not some unusual use of the word. See webster’s #3.

From the Judges Manual:
“Excellence Award at VEX Worlds
…Please note that at VEX Worlds if an individual team from a school or organization receives the
Excellence Award, then the award is given to the entire organization, not just the single team. Each
qualified team will be given a single Excellence Award Interview slot. Schools or organizations with more
than one eligible team will be given one Excellence Interview slot.”

I actually do agree with @FullMetalMentor .

There were so many times that when my teams went for the excellence award interviews during worlds without knowing if they were to present about the team or the club.
And at times, different judges were expecting different things as well, eg. What did you do as a team… and at times what did your club do in outreach, etc.

I stand corrected.

That is really his point. It isn’t obvious how it should be interpreted.

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Agreed. At worlds, there could be 5 teams from a “program,” each in its own division. Each division has its own excellence award. How is that circle squared?

I don’t believe there are divisional excellence awards, just an overall award.

For VEX IQ Excellence Award, I explained the "program’ as the entire team, including coaches and mentors and adults at the competition. Some judges asked if that meant that we were evaluating the coach who leads the program.

I used the following to explain differences between different teams within the same organization, club or school:
"An elective class, where the teacher grades assignments will have an impact on how an engineering notebook might look like for a certain organization or school. It happens that one organization, school or program might have several years experience and is very familiar with the rubrics. Some of the coaches (not all of them) are Event Partners. Some of the coaches have volunteered at other events as a judge or referee when their own teams are not competing. Some are familiar with the judging process and some have not found the documentation yet, due to time constraints.

All of this has an impact on how an engineering notebook and robot design might look like. As a judge and judge advisor, I might point out that this is a rookie program that has grown over the season. I might point out that the students might be experts but the school or organization might have a new coach or teacher and that might explain the difference between the quality of one team compared to another. Different experience levels and maturity might be used as a tie breaker. "

When I explained that I looked at the following criteria I used 3 sources to research the Excellence Award.

Judge Guide:
Key criteria: • Design Award ranking • Teamwork Challenge qualification rounds • Robot Skills Challenge performance • All other Judged awards offered at the event • High quality VEX IQ Robotics program

This is the script from Tournament Manager:
The Excellence Award is the highest award presented in the VEX IQ Challenge. The recipient of this award is a team that exemplifies overall excellence in creating a high quality VEX IQ robotics program. This team excels in many areas and is a shining example of dedication, devotion, hard work and teamwork. This team is committed to quality in everything that they do and is a strong contender in numerous award categories. This team or program deserves to be recognized for building a quality robotics program.

This is from the Appendix:
Excellence Award at VEX Worlds At VEX Worlds,
Excellence Awards will be offered at the Middle School and Elementary School levels. Teams must have been awarded the Excellence Award at an official state/regional(multi-state)/provincial/national championship event or a REC Foundation designated signature event during the current competition year to be eligible for Excellence at VEX Worlds. Teams must submit their Engineering Notebook to be considered for the Excellence Award at VEX Worlds. Please note that if an individual team receives the Excellence Award at VEX Worlds, then the award is given to that team’s school or organization, not just the single team. Schools or organizations that have won the Excellence Award at VEX Worlds in the previous three years will not be eligible for the Excellence Award at VEX Worlds.

This was the response:

"On Mon, Feb 11, 2019 at 10:47 AM Tarek Shraibati <tarek@roboticseducation.org> wrote:

Good morning,

You should not be using the VEX Worlds criteria at local or state events. That is for Worlds only. At local and state championship events each team is to be considered a separate entity by judges."

I hope this helps.

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See I have asked the same thing. So we have been to World’s a few times and a team does not win Excellence, but the organization does. I asked them at worlds and that is the answer I got. So…If you carry that down it should be a school or organization that wins Excellence at state or regional. Correct? Thoughts?

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Obviously there is confusion on this. I am interested as well, as theres a chance our “program” will grow next year. If this is the case, apparently we may, or may not be judged as individual teams (the letters of each of our teams… ) or as the entire umbrella organization (the number in our team).

It would be helpful if this is clarified, not only for us teams, but for judges that often are volunteers at events and may not know all these ins and outs and backgrounds.

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Based on the quotes from the judges’ guide and Tarek Shraibati that I have seen here, the Excellence at Worlds, but only at Worlds, is given to the whole organization (although a Worlds spot for the next year will be given to an individual team based on the differences between the organization’s teams), while the Excellence Award at all other events is given to the individual team (e.g. 1234A).

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I kind of think its nebulous on purpose. For example, we have veen told that consideration for excellence awards at our local tournaments includes consideration of everyone from the program at the event. So if parents are acting rude and obnoxious, that can enter as a consideration in awarding the excellence award to the team. If other teams from that program are not carrying themselves well, that is also a consideration. I have never understood it to mean that a program needs to be large in order to be eligible for excellence award.

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There used to be Division Excellence Awards at World’s. One of my teams won their division’s Excellence Award in 2012-2103 Sack Attack.

At Worlds teams are scored individually for the Excellence Award, except for the interview where all teams from an organization get the same score. The individual team scores are used to determine the top group of teams for consideration. The Excellence Award is credited to the entire organization though. My daughter’s team won Excellence at Worlds in 2017 and I talked at length to Tarek about this because of confusion from some of my teams. No teams from my organization can win Excellence at Worlds again until 2021.