The Mother of All FIRST Events
Time for the big show! By now, you have probably attended at least one regional and have seen your creation in action. The Championship Event is bigger than any regional and a terrific finale to your rookie season. Enjoy the grandeur and excitement of this event., make sure your team has fun, and celebrate the first of what we hope are many years of FIRST participation.
A ROBOT CART IS A NECESSITY
To transport your robot, make a cart with enough space to carry some tools, a spare battery, and a cup holder for beverages (not kidding!).
PREPARE A TRAVELLING TOOL KIT
Due to lack of time between matches, be sure to carry all your critical parts and tools with you. You may not have time to go back to your pit between some of the matches. Bring along a spare battery for the same reason.
TEAM MEMBER RESPONSIBILITIES
Develop a Championship task and resource plan. Each team member (students and adults) should be assigned a preparation responsibility in addition to responsibilities he/she will have at the event itself.
COMMUNICATE THE SCHEDULE
Things are hectic at the Championships. Make sure every team member, mentor, and chaperone knows your match schedule and the meeting times for meals, curfew, travel, etc.
DEVELOP AND DISTRIBUTE A CELL PHONE LIST
With the pits so far away from the competition field, you need to have a way to communicate between the two locations. Ensure team members at each location have cell phones and that a list exists that each group possesses to be able to contact each other at any time.
It may be advantageous to know which people have a National calling plan also. If you can afford to avoid huge cell phone charges when you call the pit to run a battery onto the field, it is worth it.
To ensure you know where all your student team members are, have all students assigned a “buddy” throughout the competition.
DIVISION STRUCTURE AT CHAMPIONSHIP
The difference between the Championship and a regional event is the division structure. Teams will be divided by FIRST into four divisions. Each division will be assigned to a specific playing field and, for qualifying matches, will only play teams in their division. In effect, each division is treated like a regional event. Division winners then form the FINAL FOUR, which play to determine the Champion Alliance.
FIRST should be communicating the divisions to all teams at least one week prior to the event.
Gather scouting information on teams in your division. There will be ~70 teams in each division, many of whom you have not seen during the regional events. Individual team web sites and Chief Delphi can be good sources of early scouting information.
Some teams offer shared scouting information at the Championship event. Use this if you have enough resources (both people and equipment), but realize that this is general scouting information. You may have scouting needs that specifically focus on compatibility of other robots to yours.
STANDOUT FROM THE CROWD (EVEN MORE)
With more than 340 teams in attendance, you will need to work even harder to standout from the crowd. Make special noisemakers, sit as a group in the stands, and make large signs. Think about ways that you can help your team stand out.
From your team shirts to flags to banners, show your pride in your team and your robot by displaying your team name and number. Because you are a first-year team, these first competition events will help cement your identity in the FIRST community.
Make sure you advertise your team number well in your division at the Championship. Teams that recognize your number and associate it with your robot will be more apt to select your team should they wish to add you to their alliance during the elimination rounds. Then again, maybe you will be selecting them!
UNCRATING ROBOT ON WEDNESDAY NIGHT
Each team should be prepared to uncrate their robot on time. The uncrating time can be found on the FIRST website. A team of only three team members will be able to enter the pit area. Remember to carry in the proper uncrating tools.
At this time, you will have the opportunity to confirm that your robot made it to the championship in one piece. If you did sustain some damage in transport, you will have a heads up and will have more time to plan your remediation work overnight.
This uncrating is also a great time to get a feel for the pit area as a whole – it’s layout, where key areas of the pit are located (pit admin, inspections, practice fields, etc.).
Team meetings are essential at the Championship Event. It is very difficult to provide everyone the proper information and have group discussions during the day. Here is what MOE 365 does at the Championship.
Wednesday evening meeting – review the event schedule, team expectations, remind students that the next three days will be long and tiring, encourage students to get a good night’s sleep, review the “in the room” curfew time.
Thursday evening dinner meeting – discuss events of the practice day, share perceptions of other robots capabilities, review responsibilities for the next day and when the team will meet again.
Friday evening dinner meeting – discuss events of first day of competition, recognize behavior of team members who did a great job, discuss areas to improve as a team, share perceptions of other robots. Make sure that every team member understands that they need to check out the next morning, if you we are taking a bus, and when and where to meet the bus after all the festivities.
You may need to restructure your team prior to attending the Championship event. There is much more to do than at a Regional. With FLL, FTC, FIRST Conference Sessions, and many more teams to scout.
Your pit area should be bit larger than that at the regional(s) you attended. However, it will still only be able to accommodate a few people at a time. Prepare for this beforehand and determine who should be in the pit and when.
Possible competition roles may include - Competition Team (necessary), Pit Crew (necessary), Scouting Team, Spirit Team, Conference attendees, and Chaperones/Travel Logistics Team.
LEARN FROM OTHER TEAMS
The best teams in FIRST will be competing at the Championship. Hopefully, you can take time to walk around and get a close up look at some of the awesome robots you have only heard about on Chief Delphi or other FIRST websites. There is much to learn from other FIRST teams regarding robot design, pit organization, and team spirit. Be open to all the other ideas floating around during the Championship.
FIRST "HALL OF FAME”
Look for ideas that can further develop and enhance your program for future years. Be sure to visit the FIRST “Hall of Fame” display of past Chairman’s Award winning teams.
The FRC Conference is a great place to learn from other teams. Many teams are presenting sessions on everything from robot design strategy to recruiting team members. If you can spare team members to attend (the sessions occur during the practice and qualifying matches Thursday through Saturday), take advantage of the opportunity.
The Championship Event houses many more teams than a regional event, 340 versus between 30-60. With this many more students, there will be even more late-night activities. There will be even longer hours, less sleep, close interaction, and poor diets than a typical regional. Try to eat right and get as much sleep as you can. Many have went full out every day of the regional and ended up sick when their team needed them most. Take care of yourself. That’s the best way to maximize your contribution to your team.
STAYING TOGETHER IN A BIGGER VENUE
Your competition team should plan to stay closely together during the competition. Your coach should understand the competition agenda and know where each competition team member is at all times.
During Team #365’s first year of competition at the Nationals (as they were called then) at Disney World, our main drivers could not be found prior to a match. It turns out they had fallen asleep on the grass somewhere. We had to put in our back-up drive team, who, fortunately, won the match for us.
NASA WEBCASTS / NASA TV BROADCAST OF CHAMPIONSHIP EVENT
NASA will broadcast the Championship on NASA TV. They will also webcast the even. Check the NASA Robotics site to see the details. You may want someone “back at the ranch to videotape the feed for you.
If you are instructing peple back home to watch the webcast, make sure you tell them what division your team is playing in.
BEST OF LUCK AND CONGRATULATIONS ON YOU’RE THE FINALE OF YOUR FIRST “FIRST” SEASON!