FIRST Robotics Competition Blog

2020 Season Judging Updates

Oct 25, 2019 Written by Cindy Stong and Allen Bancroft, Co-Chief Judge Advisors, FIRST Robotics Competition.



This summer, we have been again hard at work making improvements to the Judging Process and we are excited to share these updates:

Chairman’s Award Changes

In an effort to help both teams and judges, we are pleased to share that teams will no longer have to print the Chairman’s Video Consent form, sign it, and bring it to each event. This form is now part of the Chairman’s submission. Teams will not be able to submit their application without clicking the checkbox that agrees to the Chairman’s Video Consent & Release of Rights Form. A screenshot of how this will appear in the portal is below:

Chairmans Award Video Consent Online FIRST Robotics Competition

Over the past few years, one thing we have repeatedly heard from both teams and judges is how to verify the data in each team’s Chairman’s submission. This summer, we partnered with the Hall of Fame Teams get one step closer to solving this issue. We have updated the Chairman’s Award Definitions and introduced a new word – “Reached”. You will also notice that we introduced a Documentation Form. Teams are expected to select the appropriate word when submitting their application. To help ensure they are doing that, teams are asked to provide the Chairman’s Documentation Form to the Judges to verify the words and numbers they are using. Note this is not a required form (i.e. you can still be eligible without this form) but providing it shows the Judges that your activities are well planned and documented. We recognize many teams have been providing this sort of documentation to the judges already, but by formalizing the process with a form and tighter definitions we hope to make this process more consistent and clearer for all teams and judges.

Dean’s List Award Changes

Another improvement we have made is to the Dean’s List nomination process. Instead of asking for each student’s GPA, we instead are asking the mentor to describe the student’s academic performance with an indicator the school uses with 200 maximum characters. We recognize that many schools provide feedback about performance in different ways and limiting it to GPA does not allow for those differences. Here are 2 examples of how a mentor may fill in this question:

Example 1 - Josh excels not only in robotics but also in his classes. His cumulative GPA is 3.9 out of a 4.0 scale.
Example 2 - Josh excels in academics. He has attained 90% on a 100% scale

Submitted Award Interview Changes

If you typically submit for either the Chairman’s or Dean’s List award, you know that those awards require an interview and each event had a sign-up for teams to choose their preferred interview slot. This introduced a level of unfairness that we are attempting to improve. Teams no longer have to spend unnecessary time waiting to sign up or worry when they are slightly late arriving to the venue. Instead, teams that have successfully submitted online will be randomly assigned to a time slot for an interview. Once the interview schedule has been posted, Pit Admin will make an announcement and teams can see the slot to which they are assigned. Some teams may need to request to change time slots. In order to do so, the team must find another team who is willing to switch. Both teams will then go to Pit Admin and request the time change. Pit Admin is the only group who can approve the change. Pit Admin will alert the Judge Advisor or Judge Advisor Assistant.

Entrepreneurship Award

You may remember last year that we announced the new process for the Entrepreneurship Award that no longer required an online submission. After receiving feedback from this past season, we have made some slight adjustments to the guidelines and also created a template to help teams better understand what we are looking for. Please note, that this is a rough guideline and used to steer teams in the right direction, but teams can still (and should) add their own creative touches to ensure the Summary Business plan represents their team.

Safety Award

This summer, we have begun working closer with UL (Underwriters Laboratories) and wanted the award description to align more closely with the other awards, so be sure to check out the updated guidelines. Moving forward, Judges and UL Safety Advisors will work together on judging this award at events. We will also only be awarding one winner per event. This award does still differ from the other awards in one area: the ‘Spread the Wealth’ philosophy so this award will stand alone.

Judging Process

In an effort to be a little more transparent about the Judging process, we have created a 1-page document that shows how the Judging Process works at a typical event. We train our Judge Advisors to maintain a consistent experience for the teams, but there are external factors (i.e. number of volunteers available, etc) that sometimes may modify this process slightly. We hope all of our teams have a good experience with Judging at the event and if you have any questions contact FIRST HQ.



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Is there any chance that a team could be running late enough to either miss their scheduled slot or to not have the opportunity to switch slots because they have to do it in person?

Hi Darlene,

Great question. It is very unlikely that a team is running late enough to miss their scheduled slot since they usually occur during the competition. If some situation comes up that delays the team, the team should contact the event to let them know they are running late and they should also share that they have submitted for Chairman's. Our Judge Advisors are taught to be flexible and put the team experience first so they will reschedule the interview if needed. 

- Fiona Hanlon
FRC Program Specialist

Thank you Cindy, Allen and FIRST for listening to the judges and improving the awards process. These are welcome improvements.

Who will be determining the length of interview slots and interview hours? I'm a JA and have Chairman's judges that prefer 20 minute slots over 15 minute slots, some that like to work through lunch and others that don't, etc. Also, is Pit Admin assigning these time slots after the match schedule has been finalized? Teams typically prefer to not interview while their team is competing, so I can see many teams switching times in order to watch their teams perform. Or if a driver/human player is also on the Chairman's presentation team, this could cause added stress to teams being assigned not ideal time slots. 



Hi Merideth,

The Judge Advisors (JA) will be creating the randomized schedules and will be providing to Pit Admin to share with the teams. We will be training the JAs on best practices for creating this and may even have a template that is easy to modify. More information to come soon to our Judge Advisors. As mentioned in this blog, teams will have the option to switch if necessary. 

- Fiona Hanlon
FRC Program Specialist

Hi Fiona: If the judges are allowed to randomly assign teams to interview slots, we could email the schedule out to teams the week before.

Hi Tom,

We will go over best practices with the Judge Advisors on how we would like this to be handled. We do want to ensure teams are having a consistent experience so whichever way we decide, we will ask everyone to follow the same method to help encourage that. More info to come!


- Fiona Hanlon
FRC Program Specialist 

I'd love to see awards that could be achieved by smaller teams from smaller communities. The criteria for existing awards strongly favor large, well-resourced teams. We have just 17 student members this year (we are not a new team, just a small one). Outreach that is significant and impactful for us and our small community can seem insignificant when compared to teams five or ten times our size from communities that are five or ten or a hundred times the size of ours. It's disheartening to our members to put in so much effort and have no chance of being recognized for it.

I second this request for awards that are more accessible to smaller teams, and for teams that have fewer resources. I mentor for a 40 member team in the Bay Area - but unlike the Silicon Valley powerhouses,  our surrounding communities are very modest economically. 

I agree with these two posts.  We have a small to medium sized team of usually 20 to 25 students.  We can not compete int he outreach awards with the forty plus teams.


Thanks for the comments about smaller teams and awards. We train our Judge Advisors to compare data carefully when it comes to impact and sustainability of activities. We also work hard to help our judges understand that our teams come in many forms, including small teams, large teams, better-resourced teams, lower-resourced teams and more, and that all teams deserve an opportunity for awards.

JA is not defined in the new super handy 1-page doc.

Hi John,

Thanks for catching that. JA stands for Judge Advisor. We went ahead and updated the document to reflect that and re-posted it to the same link.

- Fiona Hanlon
FRC Program Specialist


I wanted to ask exactly what to write in the Documentation Form in certain situations.

1. If my team has mentored FLL teams in Nigeria where they don't have a clear team number and name, what should we write under "Team Number"?

2. In some of the events my team has participated in, there was no clear organization so it is a bit complicated for us to write someone down in the Reached section. What should we do in such a case?

3. What form of Documentation is asked in this file? What content exactly should be in a letter/screenshot etc

Thanks, Team 6740 from Israel


Hello Team 6740,

Thanks for writing in to ask your questions. Your answers below:

1. The hope of this form is to allow a fact checking avenue for our Judges. Please use whatever name/number they go by and provide some documentation from that team

2. The term Reached is new for this season and we understand that teams may not have hard fast numbers they can use. Our intent is to use good faith effort in validating your numbers. For example, if your team did a demo at a baseball game with 30,000 people in attendance. You should not claim you reached all 30,000 people unless they interacted or observed the team directly. 

3. You can submit whatever types of documentation (screenshots, letters, etc) for each item you are listing on the documentation form to the judges during the interview but they should be labeled as described on the form. 


Fiona Hanlon
FRC Program Specialist

Will it be allowed to use the Aurebesh numbers on our robot's bumpers as long as they fall withing the guideline sizes in the rules book this year?  We are unsure if that would be a copyright or trademark infringement 

Hello Lori!

Please use the official Q&A System to answer questions about the Game and Season Manual:

Be sure to search the Q&A before asking questions. This question has been answered here:


Jamee Luce

Team Advocate, FIRST Robotics Competition

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