FIRST Robotics Competition Blog

Houston Bag Checks, Championship Slots, and a Peek Behind the Curtain

Apr 18, 2017 Written by Frank Merrick.


Houston Bag Checks

We will not be doing bag and Robot Lock-Up Form checks at FIRST Championship Houston this week. This is to save time on inspection. Teams at the event do not need to wait for an inspector before opening their bags –they can start working on their robots as soon as they get to their pits and uncrate.


Championship Slots

Full Dance Card means Full FIRST Championship

My goodness. That dance card is full.


With the last regular season competitions taking place this past weekend, and our final Teams qualifying for FIRST Championship, our dance card is full, and more than full. We are looking forward to welcoming 401 teams to Houston and 409 (ish) to St Louis. So, we will not be releasing any additional waitlist invitations this season. For those of you still on the waitlist who really hoped to make it to Championship, better luck next year! Looks like, even with 800+ slots available, we still were not able to meet the full demand for Championship attendance.

Most of the FRC staff has been in Houston since Monday (and a few even arrived last Friday!) and with the help of many, many wonderful volunteers, prep for the big show is coming along nicely! We can’t wait to welcome our teams and get this party started!


Peek Behind the Curtain

As I have mentioned before, the game design process includes a step involving what we call the ‘Rules Review Committee’. This committee, made up of long-time mentors and volunteers, some of whom are very well known, get a sneak peek at the game months before Kickoff and provide important feedback. At the time they review the game, the rules are typically about 80%-90% complete. The committee, in a multi-day process, lets us know where they see gaps, problems, and other areas where we may have missed the mark. We ask, and they give, their honest opinions. The committee actually spends much of their time alone (no staffers present) so they can be free to discuss the game without concern about what FIRST may think of their conversations.

Some members of the committee are actively involved in mentoring teams. We ask these members to agree to not be part of strategy discussions with their teams for 7 days after Kickoff. As they will have seen the game months in advance, they won’t be able to simply ‘not think about it’ until Kickoff, and likely will have formed some strategies they think best. This 7-day-delay approach isn’t perfect, as a mentor on these teams still has seen the game early, but we think it greatly diminishes any potential advantage, and we strongly believe the trade-off is worth it.

As a rule of thumb, we keep membership of this committee confidential. We want to shield our volunteers from community criticism should the game not be well received, and we also want to shield them from accusations of ‘unfair advantage’ if their team happens to do well during the season.


However, this year we’re trying something new. I asked our Rules Review Committee for FIRST STEAMWORKS if any would be interested in revealing themselves and participating in a Q&A on First Updates Now (FUN), a community webcast independent of FIRST. I told them that other than not revealing the names of other committee members (who may still prefer to remain anonymous), and not revealing ‘who said what’ during the process (as some comments were surely made with the expectation of confidentiality), they should talk about the process and the game in any way they saw fit, warts and all*.

So, tonight, on First Updates Now (FUN), at 8PM Eastern, tune in to see Jared Russell, who has mentored FIRST Robotics Competition Teams 254 (The Cheesy Poofs) and 341 (Miss Daisy) talk about his experience on the Rules Review Committee. Jared will be interviewed by Tyler Olds, host of FUN, and will answer your questions. Just don’t ask him about corndogs – it’s still a sensitive subject.




*The idiom ‘warts and all’ has an interesting source. OK, it may just be interesting to me.




Back to Blog



Does this mean teams can unbag their robot during Load in? Or do they wait until Pits officially open at 4 p.m. ?



We apologize for the delay in response. We hope you found the information about robot unbag time during Load In.

Add new comment