Frank Answers Fridays: June 6, 2014
Today’s good question comes from Brian R., from FRC Team 2383, The Ninjineers, out of Plantation, Florida, USA:
I’d like to ask you more about the format of the World Championships next season and in the future. I am really excited about the expanded FRC championships. I’d like to know about how many teams will be there, how they will compete, and how they will get there. For example, will there be 600 teams? Will there be 6 or 8 fields? Would regional finalists or other specific award winners be invited to St. Louis? Also, has FRC ever considered a weighted wait list for the event by giving more preference to finalists and award winners?
Thanks in advance for your response!
Brian, thanks for the question. I’m really excited about an expanded Championship also! I imagine the thunder and spectacle of up to 50% more FRC teams participating in the event and watching the Einstein finals, and I get goosebumps. Not just because it’s going to be a great show, but because we’ll be able to deliver potentially life-changing experiences to that many more people.
With a large increase in the number of teams, though, there are many details to be worked through. As an example, to support 400 teams and 4 Divisions for the 2014 FIRST Championship, we had more than 700 FRC- specific volunteers. To support 600 teams and 8 Divisions, we would need well over 1,000. Just as with the teams themselves, all these extra folks need to be able to find hotel rooms – if they are from out of town – and need to be fed in a short enough time at the event to get back to their next activity. As another example of details needing work, consider the dome floor and field placement. The dome floor seems pretty large when you are walking around out there, but try to squeeze in 8 fields, and enough space to put all the robots needed to run Divisional eliminations, and things start to get pretty cozy. We have several options to address challenges like these, but options, right now, is what they are, until we make final decisions.
The bottom line is, we are currently working hard on plans that will allow us to significantly increase the number of FRC teams attending the FIRST Championship while still making it a wonderful experience for everyone involved. The plans being worked include the process by which teams will be invited to Championship. We don’t yet have details in place, but they are a top priority for us to work out over the summer. The final plans will likely include between 6 and 8 Divisions, and team counts between the mid 500’s and 600, but I don’t think this tells you anything you haven’t already figured out. We’ll share the plans when we have them figured out and it makes sense for us to do so.
In answer to your final question, I don’t know if we’ve ever considered a weighted wait list. We haven’t, during my knowledge, during the time I’ve been with FIRST. This gets to a fundamental question about the Championship. I believe the purpose of the FIRST Championship is inspiration and recognition (I don’t think I’m going out on a limb on that one….). With a limited number of slots available, how do we pick the teams to best fulfill that purpose?