I hope everyone who attended the FIRST Championship is recovered from all the activity!
As I did last year, I wanted to list initial impressions on what went well at the FIRST Championship from an FRC perspective, and what could use some work. Just like the lists last year, these aren’t intended to be exhaustive. Also, note that these pros and cons are for the Championship itself only, not about the game or any other aspect of FRC or FIRST this season.
- 10 scheduled qualification matches for every FRC team – Thanks to some very hard work by our volunteers and staff!
- Safe, smooth team entry in the mornings – No reported issues, and everyone was calm and mostly smiling*
- Closing Ceremonies – Good fun, no technical issues, no scoring problems, exciting matches, and 2 hours 10 minutes long from start to finish. Last year’s length? 3 hours 20 minutes
- Team match viewing area – Seemed well received
- More awards at the Division level – Also seemed well received!
- 4 Team Alliances for eliminations – This extended involvement in the tournament for 32 additional teams compared to last year. While no 4th robots (3rd picks) played on Einstein, within the Divisions, approximately 50% of all 4th robots got to play at least one match
- Hall of Fame – An enhanced Hall of Fame area gave these teams the additional recognition they deserve and made the Hall of Fame area more of a destination for teams aspiring one day to join them
- Drivers’ Meeting – Confusion over who should be allowed to pass security, and some seating sections were closed that should not have been
- Wednesday afternoon schedule was very hectic – At the end of practice matches, about 30 or more teams from each Division had not yet had a chance to connect to the field
- Einstein feed on NASA TV cut out before the last match – NASA TV broadcasts are automated, and there was no practical way for us to ask for a few more minutes because we were running late, but we’ll see what we can do next year
- Signage – With the complicated logistics operation we have at Championship, we need more signage to help direct people to the right place
- Tight timing between the end of Division play and the start of Closing Ceremonies – While things on Einstein ran exceptionally smoothly, we were a little late getting started with Closing Ceremonies, and we didn’t get in as much testing as we would have liked. Also, teams felt the need to leave their Divisions early to get good seats for Einstein. I understand one team even missed being named as Engineering Inspiration Award winner for their Division. As the top award at the Division level, this is a real shame
- No live feed of matches in the pits – Having a live feed would add to the excitement and maybe help keep teams on schedule
- Paper airplanes – I was on the fence about listing this one, because it could be considered minor, but decided to. We saw a significant increase in the number of paper airplanes being thrown during closing. They are beautiful in flight, but once they touch the ground, they turn to trash – an eyesore that someone needs to pick up. I recognize that throwing paper airplanes is fun, and that folks in the stands don’t have much to do while waiting for ceremonies to start, but as a community I think we are not leaving a positive impression with this.
As I say above, these lists are not intended to be exhaustive. We will be working on the cons listed above, along with others, for next year.
We had some fun last night just prepping for the show, I think it’s going to be a good one!
*Guess what time Team 148, the Robowranglers, showed up to be first in line for entry Thursday morning? You’re going to have to guess, because when I asked them while they were standing there, they wouldn’t tell me.