Tips from Robot Design Judges
We asked World Festival and State-Level Robot Design Judges for tips and advice they have for teams. Here is what they shared:
1) Be warned, the tables in judging are often not as well set up as the tables for the robot games. Most venues save the best tables for competition. Sometimes mission models are missing or not working perfectly. Make sure to adapt your presentation to what is available and don’t get flustered. In fact, some regions may not even have a table in the judging room. You need to still be able to communicate your design, strategy and programming accomplishments.
2) Remember that the rules of the robot game don’t apply for robot judging. If you need to adjust the table to show a particular run (e.g. retrieve a mission model) or need to touch the robot in the middle of the run - you can! There is no penalty for this. The judges are looking to understand your team’s process, not evaluating a robot run.
3) Just saying your robot is sturdy isn’t as helpful as explaining what you did to make your robot strong.
4) Remember to credit your inspiration for different parts of your robot design and programming. Also explain how you adapted these ideas to make it work well for you. For example, “Team X showed us how to use beveled gears to transfer power. We used this idea to get power from the back to the front of our robot”
5) Your presentation doesn’t have to just be about mechanical design and the robot runs. Make sure cover all aspects of the rubric in your presentation.
6) Explain aspects of your design that changed over the season. Were there missions that weren’t working well? If so, how did you determine what was going wrong? What other approaches did you consider and how did you choose a final design?
7) Do you think that some aspect of your robot, programming or strategy is unique? Tell the judges about it.
8) Be prepared to discuss how your team decided what missions to do.
9) Be able to explain your choices: Why did you pick that wheel or decide to complete a mission a certain way?
10) Keep a record of how your team made important decisions (what kind of robot to build, what missions to try, etc). These will be useful as you prepare for the presentation, but also something you can show your judges.
11) Prepare a brief presentation even if the RDES presentation is not a requirement in your region. When you set up and run your robot for the judges, plan to have someone talk about what it is doing and point out interesting things that might not be obvious (like when the robot finds a line.)
12) Be prepared to show the judges anything they want - a specific block in your code, a minute detail, etc. They may go in a different direction than you planned. Stay flexible.
Thank you to Sam, Andersen, Srini, Arvind and Sanjay