FRS Robot Judging 2006
I spent two days this week as a judge of the FIRST Robotics Singapore (FRS 2006) competition. This is a fantastic experience which is great fun and I would recommend to anybody.
Teams will be awarded their prizes today but I wanted to give my own special mention of some of the participants who grabbed my attention.
Hua Yi: Cyclopeantency Sensation
All the judges were impressed with these guys. They were "the real thing." It's obvious that they eat, live and breath robotics. They had by far the most advanced design and certainly would win the "most high tech accessories" award had there been one. Saying that, they did not win the "Nuts & Bolts" award. This was due to the guideline given to judges that the winner had to have the design which most effectively met the objectives of the competition. Theirs did not due that. They had a fantastic robotic arm but it was not really the best design for picking up balls. I will be recommending to the organizers that next year they offer a "Most Sophisticated Design" award in addition to Nuts & Bolts. Winner: Most likely to get Good Enough to be Dangerous.
Swiss Cottage had 2 teams: Swiss Rolls & Swiss Atomic. Atomic had almost flawless game play throughout the competition. Swiss Rolls had a bad first day using an inferior ball collection mechanism but made a switch and by the end of the competition had moved from a ranking of 30 to about 7. So full marks for best mid-game adaptation. I initially met them for their Project Management submission which was eventually ranked in the top 3 (out of 35 submissions). I was extremely impressed by their team manager, who's enthusiasm and effectiveness is burnt into my mind. The effort they put into their Project Management submission needs a Special Mention as they made a gargantuan effort. So why didn't they win? The judges felt the report wasn't pithy enough and could have benefited from some significant culling. I have no doubt that with clearer instructions as to the judging criteria, this team would have probably won. Winner: Most Focus & Perseverance.
These guys also ranked in the top 3 for Project Management. In fact they were my personal pick for the award based on the written submission which was on par with reports I've received in the investment banking world. I was very impressed with one of their 3 team members ("A") who was amazingly well spoken despite his young age. He was articulate, chose his words carefully and came across as the most polished individual that stood before the judges during the competition. The Temasek team only spent 1 month in preparation for the competition and had perhaps the best hooking mechanism in the field (an inverted anchor-like device which, once engaged, would crank them up and achieve vertical suspension without taking the daring kamikaze runs off the platform that some of the other teams had opted for). The only reason they didn't with the Project Management award was that some judges felt that only teams that had attempted to meet all the course challenges (e.g. ball collection) should be eligible for the prize. Personally I think if you have one month, choose a very specific strategy and manage your resources to get a submission into the competition, that's good project management. Winner: Most Poise & Professionalism
Free Advice Worth Every Penny
If you were in the competition and want some insight/feedback on the judging, you can reach me by e-mail (robots AT missbossy DOT com). I am open to questions. Teams that are looking for sponsors can contact me and I can try put them into contact with rich bankers that have more money than sense.