Event Options are Varied
There are many ways to implement an event and the best resource is your Project Manager to assist with matching the event with your available venue and resources. The event types and layouts shared in this guide are models for best practices, but you will notice that no two events look exactly alike. The REC Foundation prioritizes a consistent experience aligned with the Game Manual and Judging process, but you will find that implementing events can be tailored to your available resources to promote sustainability and a positive experience for students, volunteers, and EPs.
REC Foundation robotics events are held locally throughout the year in cities around the nation, culminating in Aerial Drone Championship Events.
Workshops provide in-person or online opportunities for those in the robotics community to gain skills, promote STEM, and inspire students. Workshops can be customized as desired by the EP and held throughout the year. Examples of Workshops include camps, virtual or in-person training, and STEM activities. Some workshops are designed specifically for EPs or volunteers, while others may be for student participants.
Scrimmages are non-qualifying events (tournaments or leagues) that give teams an additional opportunity to test their robot designs. Scrimmage results do not upload to RobotEvents.com. This means that any judged awards given out or Skills scores earned cannot count toward the Championship qualification. Scrimmages can follow the same format as a Tournament or League, or they can be customized as desired to meet the needs of the community.
Tournaments are the most common event type. Tournaments are typically one day events that feature Qualification Matches and Skills Matches followed by Elimination Matches. In most cases, judged awards are offered, and judging runs concurrently with the event. Tournaments without judged awards are allowed and may be easier for new EPs or for EPs that want to offer an additional event with fewer volunteers.
Leagues provide multiple opportunities for a group of teams to compete. Leagues are events with three (3) or more Ranking Sessions plus a League Finals Session. Ranking Sessions include Qualification Matches and may offer Skills Matches. Ranking Sessions are usually only a few hours long and are scheduled several weeks apart to give teams an opportunity to improve their robot designs and game strategies. The League Finals Session usually includes Skills Matches followed by Elimination Matches. Judging is optional and is usually conducted at the League Finals Session.
Detailed information about how to host and run a league are included in the League section later in this guide.
Aerial Drone Championship Events
Teams must qualify for Aerial Drone Championship Events. Teams can qualify by winning specific awards at Tournaments or Leagues. The specific award that qualifies teams to Championships will be listed on that event’s event posting on Robotevents.com in the Awards tab.
There are many ways to implement an event and the best resource is your Project Manager to assist with matching the event with your available venue and resources. The event types and layouts shared in this guide are models for best practices, but no two events look exactly the same. The REC Foundation prioritizes a consistent experience aligned with the Game Manual and Judging process, but you will find that implementing events can be tailored to your available resources and event space in order to promote sustainability and a positive experience for EPs, volunteers, and students.
Helpful Hint: Review the awards set up in your event on RobotEvents.com a couple weeks before your event to ensure they are correct and to share with your judging team as they prepare.
Successful events can be coordinated without using a lot of space and resources. There are many venue options to consider when hosting an event, and your Project Manager can assist you with matching the event with your available resources. Competitions have been successfully run in schools, community centers, gymnasiums, conference centers, and other spaces.
Helpful Hints:· You should have access to your event space ahead of time for setup. For Tournaments, it is recommended that you set up the night before and test all the electronics needed to run the event. Optimally all you should need to do the morning of the event is power on systems.· Create a to-scale map of the venue – this is not only useful for event planning, but teams and judges would benefit from having a labeled map with venue landmarks noted – particularly if your event is spanning multiple rooms.
Event Layout Options
The example event layout demonstrates a 16-24 team event and can be scaled to meet your event needs and resources. Other event activities that may require additional space include an additional field, concessions area and a private area for judges to convene.
Event Equipment Suggestions
The equipment and resources needed to host an event are varied depending upon the event size and number of teams. Consult with your Project Manager for assistance with developing a detailed list of equipment needed for your event.
- The Aerial Drone Competition Field will be used every year. This includes the arches, gates, and landing pads.
- The Aerial Drone Competition Game Elements are game specific and need to be replaced each year.
1 table for each set of judges to conduct team interviews.
- Each team needs a power strip to plug in their battery chargers.
- Have each strip labeled so that teams know which one to use.
Electrical cords connecting event equipment should be secured to the floor to reduce tripping hazards throughout the venue during the event setup process. Cords can be secured using cord covers or non-residue tape like Gaffers Tape or Wrestling Mat Tape.
Walkways should be designed for safe movement between event areas. Consider the flow of the event participants throughout the day, including teams that may be transporting robots. The venue should be ADA compliant (inside the U.S.) or follow local inclusion laws to allow access for all (outside the U.S.). Some venues may require approval from the Fire Marshal to ensure the walkways are appropriate for the venue size and capacity.
A well-planned budget should be the foundation of your event planning. Events within a region tend to share similar prices, but each individual event registration fee should reflect the expenses for the specific event. A budget will maintain and track the financial health of the event and can help serve as a checklist of tasks that need to be delegated to others.
The goal of your budget should be to cover all the anticipated expenses of your event, including some income set aside for any unanticipated expenses. Extra income earned can go to support your program or future events.
An event budget can be divided into several categories for the ease of delegation and tracking. Many EPs will start with the formation of a planning team. This team may be other staff at the organization or key volunteers willing to take on organization roles to better coordinate the different aspects of the event.
An example of a category that should be delegated is the organization of an event concession stand. Concession stands are often the largest source of income to support the event and involve several material and personnel matters that need to be organized in order to be successful. As such, it is recommended that this project be delegated to someone that has experience such as a parent group or school club that can take care of all the details while keeping the EP informed.
Event Budget Expenses
- Are there rental or facility fees?
- Are there custodial or security services required?
- Are there costs required for event insurance?
- Will this location require floor protections or coverings and is there a cost?
- Does the location have appropriate tables and chairs, or will they need to be rented?
- All events must be ADA Compliant or follow local inclusion laws. Will the event require additional costs to meet this specification?
- Does the organization have access to needed game equipment such as fields and elements?
- Costs of any needed electronics? This includes computers, tablets, projectors, routers, cables, monitors and printers, power strips and extension cords, etc.
- Trophies: Make sure you arrange for any trophies you wish to give away as awards. Trophies can be fabricated or purchased locally, or you can use the certificates that are printable from TM Manager.
- Paper and toner for the printer.
- Clipboards, ink pens, highlighters, and general office supplies. Judges, check-in, inspection, and referees could all use pens. Judges and Check-in can use highlighters. Referees and judges may also need clipboards.
- Gaffers or wrestling tape, clear tape, and sign/poster materials.
- Post-it notes, paper, and notebooks for the judging process.
- Referee shirts
- Volunteer shirts (optional). Many events will provide shirts to their volunteer staff. This helps to identify your volunteers during the event and will be appreciated as a memento of the day. Event Sponsors can be recognized as part of the shirt’s design.
- Food for Volunteers: Feeding your volunteers makes them far more likely to volunteer again.
- Delegate to an interested volunteer or parent group.
- Running a concession stand gives competitors access to food and drink and is also an opportunity to recapture the cost of volunteer food as well as earn funds to support other aspects of the event.
RobotEvents.com Processing Fee
- Each team outside of your organization that registers for an event will incur a $5 fee to offset the costs of maintaining the RobotEvents.com system.
- Free Scrimmages and Workshops can be exempt from the $5 RobotEvents.com fee.
Event Budget Income
Event Registration Fee
- Coordinate with your Project Manager to review the typical event fees in your region.
- Event registration fees should cover the event expenses and can provide additional support for your robotics program.
- Concession sales can provide a good source of income and be a convenient resource to teams during the event.
- Delegate to a student or parent group.
- Pre-ordering lunches is a great option at the event when food options are limited. Some businesses will give you a discount for ordering in bulk but may need advance notice and some general idea of how many pizzas or sandwiches to make. This ordering can even be done before the event by emailing team advisors.
- Many EPs are reaching out to local businesses like car dealerships, Credit Unions, sign printers, T-Shirt vendors for support for their events. There is a lot of opportunity for mutually beneficial community engagement.
- Some events may recognize their sponsors through banners and signage, naming fields after their major sponsors, putting logos on volunteer T-shirts, and inviting representatives from their sponsors to give out an award, serve as volunteers, or say a few remarks during opening or closing ceremonies. Recognizing the sources of support in your community will help you to maintain and build upon that support in the future.
- Your Project Manager can provide an example budget spreadsheet to assist with estimating expenses and income.
- If you are giving out trophies beyond what is contained in the Trophy Pack, consider making custom trophies or printing certificates using Tournament Manager (under Reports).
- Create a Parent driven fundraising team to explore additional funding resources.
Mobile Apps for EPs
The REC Foundation maintains a number of mobile applications to support teams, Event Partners, and volunteers. All of our mobile apps run on Android and iOS devices. Please install the following mobile apps to assist you.
VEX Tournament Manager Mobile is the official companion app to the VEX Tournament Manager software for use by Event Partners and Referees during Aerial Drone Competitions. Referees use VEX TM Mobile to submit match and skills scores from your device, eliminating paper score sheets and transcription errors while speeding up your events.
Most tournaments are conducted in one day, and developing an agenda is an important task to ensure there is adequate time for all the activities and to communicate to teams what to expect. The time allotted for each activity depends upon the number of registered teams, venue layout, and the game reset time. New EPs can review agendas from past events on RobotEvents.com to see examples and discuss their final agenda with their RSM. The agenda will be included when the event is posted on RobotEvents.com and can be updated as needed prior to the event.
The examples provided below show the flow of activities for a typical one-day tournament or multi-day league. EPs usually also include a lunch break for volunteers and teams mid-way through the event, or otherwise have a system to give their volunteers some time to take a break and eat.
Leagues are an event format that operate a little differently from Tournaments. A league can be thought of as a tournament in which the Qualifying Matches are broken into pieces during different days (called Ranking Sessions) with all matches feeding into a ranking system for the finals matches, which only occur on the last league session (called League Finals). This is also when judging is done. A league must have at least 3 Ranking Sessions and a Finals Session. Judging, as well as Skills Challenge Matches, are optional in Leagues.
Advantages For Leagues
- You do not need to run both qualifying matches and finals on the same day, allowing for league Ranking Sessions to run in short timeframes, such as after school. A typical Ranking Session may give each team 3-4 matches. For a 16 team league session, that can be done on a single field in under two hours.
- A Ranking Session does NOT need all of the teams in the league to be present. A 24 team league, for instance, can have 12 teams run in one session, and the other 12 play in another. This format:
- Reduces the need for teams to travel - particularly if the league will travel to different locations - teams can take turns hosting.
- Reduces the number of fields needed at a Ranking Session (often 1 will suffice)
- Reduces the volunteers needed to support a league (Since judges, scorekeepers for multiple fields, etc. will not be needed)
- Unlike tournaments, you do not need to host an open league to host an invitational league. Leagues also can ignore the number of teams per organization limit. This is useful in the following scenarios:
- A school district wishes to pool resources and have all of their teams attend a league - this gives teams multiple opportunities to play while keeping all expenses in-district, and Ranking Sessions can be scheduled when convenient for the district.
- Large organizations may wish to host leagues internally in order to give teams opportunities to play.
- EPs with limited space can host smaller Ranking Sessions and have all of those smaller events build to the League Finals instead of running as self-contained events
- Leagues can be run for a particular subset of teams - for example, first-year teams.
Organizing a League
Leagues can either be Invitational, or Open:
Open leagues are open for anyone to attend until the registration deadline is reached, much like a typical Tournament. Invitational leagues need some pre-planning to ensure that the target population is aware of the league and will register for it. Because leagues are multi-day events spread over weeks of time, it does require careful scheduling and a higher degree of commitment from teams than a typical single-day event.
Because the league is broken into Ranking Sessions, some internal coordination is needed to ensure there are enough spots at Ranking Sessions for all teams to participate. Teams will need to attend a minimum number of matches in order to be eligible for the League Finals. For some leagues, this may be inclusive to all teams in the league.
When in a league, every Team will be ranked based on the number of Matches played. Students that participate at least 60% of the total Matches available will be ranked above Teams that participate in less than 60% of the total Matches available (e.g., if the league offers 3 ranking sessions with 4 Qualification Matches per Team, teams that participate in 8 or more Matches will be ranked higher than Teams who participate in 7 or fewer Matches).
More information on league requirements and rankings can be found in the respective game manuals for VRC and VIQC.
Leagues work a little different in Tournament Manager (TM) than regular events:
- The same Tournament Manager file must be used for each session in the league.
- When setting up TM, there is a box to check to indicate the event is a league. This must be checked for the league to be set up properly.
- When starting a league session in the TM file, the TM operator will be asked to check-in teams for that session - this allows matches to be generated that do not schedule teams that are not present.
- Any teams in the league need to be added to RobotEvents first - NOT added to the League via Tournament Manager. Just as regular tournaments, teams must be registered on RobotEvents before they can be added to any events.
- Results are Finalized only after the final Ranking Session-not after each Ranking Session. However, match results and skills scores should be uploaded to RobotEvents after each session.
To see how to create a League in Tournament Manager, visit the Tournament Manager for Leagues section in the Knowledge Base.
- Create a schedule for which teams are attending which Ranking Session - ask teams to sit out a session in order to keep the Ranking Session numbers down. Smaller Rankings sessions = more matches for teams, less time needed to run those matches, and fewer fields and volunteers needed.
- For an invitational league, have an idea of how many teams are going to be joining - this will help you plan out the number and size of the Ranking Sessions needed.
- Ranking Sessions can occur at the same location, or different locations depending on the needs of the EP. Sometimes a single central location works best (some facilities can keep fields set up, making them an ideal location for leagues since fields don’t need to be set up or broken down). In other situations the location can travel to allow multiple locations or organizations to help share the workload of hosting.
- The League finals is the only session to include Judging (optional) and Finals Matches - often this session will feature more ”bells & whistles” than Ranking Sessions.
- The Ranking Session format is very well suited for after-school as a small number of teams can play matches in a few hours. Often the League Finals will occur on a weekend and be longer in duration, and include some practice or qualification matches as well as finals matches and judging.
- To save time, have teams pre-inspect robots so that they will easily and quickly pass inspection during league Ranking Sessions.
- Space out Ranking Sessions so that teams have time to learn from their experiences and improve their programming in between Ranking Sessions.
- Because there is no judging at Ranking Sessions, you do not need to assign pit tables - if the event is small enough, teams can easily find alliance partners to discuss upcoming matches.
- If offering Autonomous Flight Skills Challenge Matches, offer them at all Ranking Sessions to give all teams an equal opportunity to post scores. Teams can do up to 3 Autonomous Flight skills matches per Ranking Session.
For Leagues to be Qualifying events, they must follow the Qualifying Criteria. Should anything in this guide contradict the Game Manuals or Qualifying Criteria documents, the Game Manuals and/or Qualifying Criteria documents will take precedence.
Posting on RobotEvents.com
- Ensure you have confirmed dates and venues for the Ranking Sessions and Finals Session.
- Create the League Event at RobotEvents.com. Use the first Ranking Session date as the first “Start” and “Stop” Date.
- Add each ranking session and the finals session. Select “+New Date” and repeat for each session. You can specify different locations (venues) for each league session. Do not enter a range (first session - last session). Each session must be its own date. For example, if there are 5 sessions, there should be 5 separate dates listed in this section.
- IMPORTANT! All the league sessions must be added before the league can be approved.
- Include the agendas for all Ranking Sessions and the Finals Session in the Agenda content block.
- For full instructions on posting your league to RobotEvents.com, visit the Posting an Event KB article.
- Set the Registration Opens date as early as possible, more than 8 weeks before the first Ranking Session.
- Consider setting the Event Capacity to a number larger than the capacity of the smallest venue and ask teams to sit out one of the ranking sessions. Encourage teams who are sitting out to come to the event as volunteers in a non-refereeing and non-judging role. This allows more teams to participate and provides more event volunteers.
- Share resources. Just because it is your event this week, does not mean that you have to create everything new. Use equipment, volunteers, and ideas from the other sessions as a starting point.
- Keep things as simple as possible.
- Run VRC fields on a competition switch if you do not have field electronics.
- Use 1 computer with a single Audience display.
- Only play 3-4 Qualification matches per team per ranking session, then be done.
- For those with technical expertise, use tablet scoring for quick scoring and verification.
- Plan time for inspections.
- Be sure to save (but do not finalize!) the Tournament Manager file and upload it to RobotEvents at the conclusion of each session. Only finalize after the final session.
- Start the session with Judging and Robot Skills Challenge Matches. Once Judging and Skills are both completed, then continue to the Alliance Selection.
- Involve as many teams as possible in the Elimination and Finals Rounds.
- If giving awards for which you do not have trophies, you can print certificates from TM.
- Save a copy of the Tournament Manager file. Finalize, and upload results to RobotEvents.com at the conclusion of the final session.
Best Practices for Leagues
Leagues have been around for many years, and the following suggestions are based on what has been successful throughout the years.
- Consider a sticker system to mark teams inspected at the 1st session and then just do a quick visual and measurement check on the following events. This speeds up the inspection time after the 1st inspection.
- Give teams an off week in the schedule and encourage them to support the event as volunteers while they are not competing.
- Form a partnership with another EP to share game resources and volunteers.
- Ask each team to provide 1 volunteer for the event.
- Keep the event simple with technology.
- Collect the competition logbooks at the last regular session and return them at the League Championship.
- All award judging is at the League Championship.
- Offer limited skills at each session if possible.
- Start the League with a Practice session. This should include inspection and troubleshooting drones as well as the flow of the event for students.
- Consider the cost of the event to reflect the amount of sessions and matches.