FIRST Robotics Competition Blog

Award Errors

Apr 11, 2018 Written by Frank Merrick.




We have had a few award errors this season, with awards being presented to teams that should not have been eligible for them. Two happened within Districts and one happened at a Regional. This points to a weakness in FIRST HQ’s systems and training. Judging at a FIRST Robotics Competition event is extraordinarily difficult and complex, and with an increasing number of events every season, our support system and training for volunteers need to keep pace, and it seems as if they haven’t.

We have several steps we are taking. We are working closely with the remaining Judge Advisors for 2018 events to reduce the chance of this happening again this season, as well as working to improve our systems and training for the future season.

As judging an FRC event is so difficult, we try not to re-judge awards after the fact unless there are extreme circumstances. Attempting to re-judge awards can lead to more problems than it solves.


This is certainly a subjective situation, but the circumstances for the District award errors did not appear extreme. The nature of District events is that every team gets two events minimum, and no team participating at District-level events is competing directly for a slot at FIRST Championship.

The circumstances at the Regional were more extreme. FRC Team 341, Miss Daisy, who competes in the FIRST Mid-Atlantic District, was presented with the Engineering Inspiration Award at the Midwest Regional, even though they are ineligible to win that award per our rules. This had the potential of removing a Championship slot that should have been guaranteed to a Regional team from the pool of slots awarded at the event. And unlike District teams, some Regional teams compete at only one event.

Because this had the potential of removing a Championship slot that should have been available to a Regional Team, we contacted the Midwest Judge Advisor and asked what team would have likely been presented with EI, had the rules been followed. He said it would have been FRC Team 111, Wildstang.

It turns out that Wildstang, being a Hall of Fame team, was already going to Championship. Also, if they had been awarded Engineering Inspiration, it would not have led to sending any additional teams from the Regional to Championship on a Wildcard. Everyone on the Finalist Alliance would have been going to Championship anyway.


After getting feedback from individuals from 111, 341, volunteers involved and FIRST staff, FIRST HQ has decided we will not change the award status of any team at the Midwest Regional. All other solutions seemed to have too much potential to cause unnecessary pain and confusion.

I want to apologize sincerely to FRC Team 341 for this situation. Miss Daisy is an exceptional team and a Hall of Fame team, and they did nothing wrong here. In fact, right after the award was presented, they told the Regional Director at the event that they should not have been eligible for it.

I also want to apologize sincerely to Team 111, another top-notch team and Hall of Fame team, for missing out on their potential Engineering Inspiration Award.

Finally, I’d like to apologize to the other teams present at the event as well as the larger FRC Community. This should not have happened, and the error is ultimately the responsibility of FIRST HQ. We are committed to improving our systems to reduce or eliminate the chance of this happening again.



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The award system does need some review in Dean's list as well. I witnessed some kids being interviewed for 5 mins with 1 set of judges and 15 mins from another set at same regional. Needs to be more equitable.

Mistakes happen. As long as everyone feels FIRST is addressing them it will be fine.

Heard somewhere that to err is human, thank you for the explanation and the transparency!

You also need to re-review the decision to allow last season's Chairmans winners to resubmit and win this year. At certain Regionals there are highly funded and resourced teams that no other team can compete against and the Chairmans will become a legacy award with the same team winning year after year.

Hi Frank, can you tell us when FIRST HQ will be releasing divisions for Houston? Seems late this year...

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