Judging Guest Post


In honor of us just restructuring our judging presentation, our next blog post covers some of the nuances of judges, answered based off the advice of an actual FTC judge! Heather Hinton was a judge at the Worlds Championships last year and has kindly taken the time to answer a couple of our questions.

1. What were your duties as a judge?

Judges are responsible for fairly and consistently evaluating the teams and their robots and performance. We consider the criteria laid out in the judging manual and evaluate each and every team against those criteria in consideration of the awards. We do this by first listening to the presentations of the teams (although each judge only sees a subset of the teams, because we follow the same criteria, we are able to evaluate consistently). As a group of judge, we discuss and compare the strengths of the individual teams with respect to different award criteria and identify the strongest candidates for each award. We then go and perform at least one more evaluation of the teams with "pit judging" and competition performance. Typically each team will be evaluated at least two-three times by different groups of judges to make sure that we haven't overlooked someone and to give every team a chance to tell us how great they are and how amazing their robot is.

2. Does it matter how polished my presentation is?

Not at all! i have seen really great "rough and ready" presentations and frankly some not so great "polished" presentations. A good presentation works when the entire team is involved, interested, and excited to tell me about their team. A not-so-great presentation may not have or may hide the content (think of cotton candy - it looks great but there really isn't anything there). What matters is that you are able to tell me about your team, your robot design process, and your journey to throughout the year. Putting what you have done in context of the different award criteria certainly helps when going into judging, but remember - judging is all about the journey to the competition.

3. Why even bother with judging?

You always hear "everyone is a winner" and by making it to competition you are a winner. If you are like me, the first time you heard that you said "Really? Then why are there awards?!!?" Look at it this way: You have been given an incredible challenge, broken it down into individual tasks, and built a robot that can manage those tasks. You have learned about software engineering, hardware engineering, CAD, time management, design-build-test,, teamwork and give-back. The awards are "carrots" to help you with all those things. When you look back on what you have done in FTC, you will remember the competitions and awards, don't get me wrong. But what you will build on as part of all that you achieve in the rest of your life - that comes from the journey to the competition and what you have learned about communicating that journey to the judges.

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