I can’t believe it’s Week One already! And we’ve got 21 (gulp!) events scheduled in three countries between now and March 7th!
Mission Control – Ready for Action
Normally FIRST Robotics Competition Mission Control is kept under the strictest possible security – no photos allowed. But I was able to sneak off a shot by climbing on top of a radiator in the corner of the room and cleverly announcing to the assembled engineers “Hey, I’m taking a picture”. That fooled ‘em.
There are no 2018 game hints in this photo, I swear.
This is the location on the 5th Floor of FIRST HQ from which most events are supported. Anytime there are events going on anywhere in the world, we have someone online, providing direct support (though they also occasionally support from home, if it’s the middle of the night and they are more comfortable in their jammies). And with the number of events we have running simultaneously, each of these folks is usually supporting more than one event at a time. We also have a fully functional FMS system available to allow us to troubleshoot thoroughly, if things get really serious. But hopefully things won’t get really serious.
Championship Notification/Payment Timing
This weekend, our first teams will be earning their way to FIRST Championship through their accomplishments at this season’s events. When a team earns a slot, they get notified from FIRST, and have a set amount of time to pay their registration fees.
Here’s how it will work this season:
Any team qualifying for a District Championship or FIRST Championship prior to 3/27 (which is the Monday after Week 4 but before Week 5 starts):
- If the event ends on a weekend, the team will be placed in their assigned FIRST or District Championship the Monday after the event concludes, by Noon Eastern Time, and will receive an email from FIRST at that time with instructions.
- If the event does not end on a weekend, the team will be will be placed in their assigned FIRST or District Championship the day after the event concludes, by Noon Eastern Time, and will receive an email from FIRST at that time with instructions.
- Teams will have until 5:00PM Eastern Time on the Wednesday after they receive their email from FIRST to secure their event registration fee.*
Any team qualifying for a District Championship or FIRST Championship after 3/27:
- Will be placed in their assigned FIRST or District Championship the day after the event concludes, by Noon Eastern Time, and will receive an email from FIRST at that time with instructions.
- Will have until 5:00PM Eastern Time on the Tuesday after they receive their email from FIRST to secure their event registration fee.*
*Note: Ontario and Pacific Northwest District Teams have their own Championship payment system. They should receive emails from their Districts with details.
Our Finance staff is very willing to work with teams to get their payments secured. We want teams to get to their Championships also! If a delayed payment is necessary, a phone call from the team with an explanation will go a long way toward holding that spot.
Why do teams attending earlier events get an day extra to pay? Because we have the luxury of time early in the competition season. Just as teams scramble toward the end of the season to get things lined up for Championship, FIRST does too. We are processing many teams through the system in those later weeks, and need to rush to backfill with waitlist teams (or the next highest ranked team in line within Districts) when teams decline offers. It wasn’t too long ago when all teams had to secure their registration fees by Tuesday, but last year we realized we could offer an extra day, though just in the early weeks, so we put that change in place to give at least some teams some relief.
It’s also important to recognize that even though you won’t get an email from FIRST about your Championship status until a day or so after your event, you can still find out for yourself if you have qualified. As a rule of thumb, event results get uploaded to firstinspires.org within about 20 minutes after the last award is handed out. Rules for advancement can be found in Section 10.12 of the 2017 Manual. Teams attending Regionals can verify if they met the criteria for advancement by checking the results page for their event here. District teams can check their ranking by clicking on the appropriate District here. For District teams, once that last District event of the season is complete and the results are uploaded, those rankings will show who is ‘in the money’ to go to the District Championship. Once the District Championship actually starts, that column will get cleared, and once the District Championship is complete and the results uploaded, it will show who has earned their way to FIRST Championship on points.
I’m looking forward to getting this party started!