FIRST Robotics Competition Blog

Judging & Award Updates for the 2022 Season

Aug 26, 2021 Written by Fiona Hanlon, FIRST Robotics Competition Program Specialist




We know that there is still uncertainty about how the 2022 season will look but as Frank previously mentioned, our plan A is a traditional FIRST Robotics Competition season. We wanted to share some updates on the current plan for judging and awards this season.

Chairman’s Award Feedback Change

This season, all teams who interview at a Regional or District event for the Chairman’s Award will receive feedback. As teams are allowed a mentor in the interview room who can provide feedback to the team on the interview itself, feedback from judges will only be provided on the submitted materials. In addition, the Chairman’s Award Feedback Form has been updated for the 2022 season. Judges will answer the questions from the form and responses will be emailed to the team’s lead mentors 1 and 2 after the event. FIRST will also provide more training to Chairman’s Award judges on how to provide actionable feedback. We hope this new format will be effective for teams - giving them insight on how their submission was received.

Chairman’s Award & Safety Animation Awards Submitters

Due to changes with Data Privacy guidelines at FIRST, a student can only be assigned as an award submitter if their parent/guardian has signed the Consent & Release Form. To help ensure teams will be able to submit the Chairman’s Award & Safety Animation Award by the deadlines, lead mentors 1 and 2 can also submit these awards (in addition to the student award submitters). While we are allowing this option, we still strongly encourage these submissions to be made by students.

Allaire Medal

FIRST will no longer provide the Allaire Medal, which recognized one student on each FIRST Championship Chairman’s Award team. The Allaire Medal came with a scholarship and was named after a long-serving former Chair of FIRST, Paul Allaire (learn more about him in WPI’s memoriam). He passed away in 2019, and in reviewing the benefit of the program compared to the cost, we have decided to suspend it

Award Guidelines Updated

Last summer, based on feedback from both teams and judges, we updated most award guidelines to better differentiate them from each other and better describe the qualities the awards celebrate. Take a look at the Machine, Creativity, and Innovation Award Guidelines and the Team Attributes Award Guidelines to see the updates.

Time for Translators/Interpreters

In 2021, we allowed additional time for timed interviews if a team needed a translator or interpreter. Based on feedback from teams and judges, not only is this additional time allowance now permanent, but it is also being increased.

Students who need a translator/interpreter for the Dean’s List Award may use up to 5 additional minutes.  For the Chairman’s Award, teams may use up to 2 additional minutes for the presentation and up to 3 additional minutes for the Q&A portion.

Practice Questions for Awards

To help teams prepare for judging at events, we have published a Practice Questions for FIRST Robotics Competition Judged Awards sheet. These are the questions provided to judges as a starting point, but judges are encouraged to ask other clarifying questions. We hope these help teams prepare for their judged interviews.

Judge Age

In 2021, we lowered the age requirement for judges to meet the increased judge need for the remote season. We saw an increase of ~21% of volunteers who served as judges who were alumni! After reviewing the data and looking at feedback from other volunteers, we have decided that we will keep the lowered minimum age requirement for the 2022 season. This will allow events the flexibility to do what works best for each event. We’re excited about the increase in successful FIRST alumni judges and look forward to welcoming more in the future!

Safety Program Changes

Safety is a vital part of FIRST programs and will always be so. To more broadly integrate safety awareness and practices within FIRST Robotics Competition, we are removing the individual Safety Award, which rewards the safety activities of only a single team. We are instead shifting to an emphasis on safety in all team awards. To be eligible for any award, a team will now be required to show how they espouse FIRST Core Values and a culture of safety in addition to demonstrating Gracious Professionalism®.

FIRST is committed to safety, and with these changes, we hope to reinforce the focus on safety for all teams in all capacities. FIRST will continue the following:

  • The Safety Captain Role: a team’s ambassador for safety, who creates a team safety program and ensures the team displays positive safety behaviors during meetings and at events.
  • The Safety Manual: an easy-to-use guide for important safety information
  • The Safety All Star program: a daily recognition program at events in which one safety captain is picked as the Safety All Star each day of the competition.
  • The Safety Animation Award: a competition that teams can participate in by submitting an animation that fits the year’s theme.
  • The Safety Learning Portal: online safety training for team members and mentors.

As with many other changes we make, FIRST will monitor the results of this change and make adjustments as necessary.

We’re excited to share these changes with teams and look forward to (hopefully!) being back at in-person events for the 2022 season!

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I would like the security award to be returned, for many young people it is a whole culture that deserves to be recognized in an appropriate way


Thank you for your feedback. We believe you are referencing the Safety Award when you mention the security award. As we mentioned in this blog, we are trying to elevate Safety to make sure every team is following appropriate safety practices rather than recognizing a single team. We have added this criteria to all awards as noted on the Awards Webpage: "To be eligible for any award, teams will be required to follow FIRST Core Values, demonstrate Gracious Professionalism®, and implement and follow appropriate safety practices." We believe this helps elevate safety across the board but will continue to monitor this change and make any adjustments if necessary. 

-Fiona Hanlon
FRC Team Experience Specialist

I am the safety captain for team 5567, and I, along with many other safety captains, believe that the Industrial Safety Award should be reinstated. As seen in the post above, FIRST's goal in removing the safety award was to make sure every team was following safety practices rather than recognizing a single team, but many of us believe that it has had the opposite effect. We have seen a noticeable drop in teams that value and make an effort to create a culture of safety, simply because there is no longer a reward for their efforts. We believe that reinstating the Industrial Safety Award will encourage all teams to create a safer environment for everyone. I, along with my fellow safety captain from team 3618, have started a petition to demonstrate the support from the FIRST community for reinstating the Industrial Safety Award. If you're interested, you can sign here: Any support is appreciated!

As a safety mentor for Firestorm robotics, I was taken back by the removal of the safety award from the district and regional events. I understand that safety is expected. However, safety cannot be a core value and yet remain unrecognized for best practices, new emerging technologies and safety tools. Firestorm is ISO45001 compliant, one of the first and to best my knowledge the only team that uses JHA, MHA, internal auditing and the plan,act,do and check cycle for ongoing safety improvements. We would have enjoyed sharing this with any/all other teams. 

The lack of the safety award was particularly difficult to explain to the team as to why the award was still shown in the Peachtree district event handout.

Yet the hardest blow was hearing one of the seniors tell the safety captain " see we did not need to wear the mask, no body cares". 

Safety is not about the laws we make, it is about the culture we foster; good or bad. 

Thank you for your feedback. Just like we do for all significant changes we make, we plan to reevaluate this decision over the summer now that we have a full season to look at. 

-Fiona Hanlon
FRC Team Experience Specialist

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