This article provides a description of the Judge Advisor volunteer role including expectations, skills required, recommended training, and responsibilities. Judge Advisors train and assist volunteer Judges as they evaluate student teams through interviews, review Engineering Notebooks, observe on-the-field performance, and present awards as needed. Judge Advisors facilitate the Deliberation process for judged awards, and may also serve as Judges as needed.
Work with the Event Partner to recruit Judges 1-2 months before the event. Good sources include local professional or technical workers, employees of any event sponsors, teachers, school or district administrators, college students, and local service organizations. The two main skills required for a Judge are an interest in STEM and the ability to converse in a comfortable way with students.
Two to three weeks prior to judging the Judge Advisor should:
Work with the Event Partner to ensure that Judge volunteers have the information and resources they need for the event, including location, arrival time, information about food and beverages, and all needed training materials. Ask Judges to wear comfortable closed-toed shoes and comfortable business casual clothing that is team-neutral (i.e., does not show any team numbers or team branding).
Work with the Event Partner to ensure that the necessary supplies will be available in the Judges Room. In addition to printed copies of the Judging resources, common items include:
Wear comfortable team-neutral clothing appropriate for a school related event, closed toe shoes, and a Judge or volunteer shirt (if provided).
For in-person events, locate the assigned Judges Room at the site, and ensure it is private and has sufficient work space for your judges. Make sure there’s a sign on the door limiting access to the event’s judges. During the event, you must ensure that the Judges Room remains private, and that only the assigned volunteer judges enter the room during the day. Students, coaches, parents, EPs, and other volunteers or event staff should never enter the Judges Room.
Obtain copies of the final team list for each Judge Team, plus a few extras. If the event is Blended and is planning to award an Excellence Award in each group, mark a copy of the team list to identify teams’ age groups—this info will later play into deliberations for the Excellence Awards.
For in-person events with physical notebooks, locate the event check-in area, and ensure that volunteers will collect Engineering Notebooks from teams as they check in. As teams arrive, you or another judge volunteer should periodically collect these notebooks and take them to the Judges Room. As notebooks arrive in the Judges Room, record them on a copy of the team list.
Ensure Judges sign in on the Volunteer Judge Check-In Sheet. Monitor and manage any team affiliations or potential conflicts of interest noted by the Judges, as Judges should not be assigned to interview those teams and should recuse themselves from deliberations that involve them.
Once all Judges have arrived, you should introduce yourself and coordinate introductions of all Judge volunteers. Emphasize to the judges that they’re the friendly, positive, appreciative audience for the student participants, and will be the only volunteers who have time and access to the teams for conversations about the amazing work they’re doing. If coaches, mentors, or parents have concerns about the event or the judging process they should be referred to the Judge Advisor or the Event Partner. Before Judging begins, you should also review some key concepts and judging tools.
Group Judges in teams of 2 or more, keeping in mind that judges should not interview teams they identified as conflicts of interest on the Judge Volunteer Check-In Sheet. If possible, pair inexperienced Judges with more experienced volunteers. If you have high-school-aged Judges for a local VIQC event, each must be paired with an adult.
Some or all of your Judges should begin the process of sorting and Judging Engineering Notebooks, following all guidelines. You should use reasonable discretion to determine whether each notebook that is assessed against the rubric includes sufficient evidence to warrant the 5-point bonus for a properly and sequentially-created notebook.
Some or all of your Judges should begin the process of Interviewing Teams. Assign each Judge Team a list of teams to interview and ensure all teams have the opportunity to be interviewed. Manage time and ensure judging teams are keeping pace to interview all teams on schedule. As Judge Teams begin to identify top-ranked teams for awards and move toward Deliberations, consider assigning Judge Teams to cross-interview top-ranked teams as appropriate.
If volunteers report severe Code of Conduct violations, you should consult with the Event Partner. The Judge Advisor, in consultation with the Event Partner, may decide to remove a team from consideration for judged awards where: (1) the behavior is repeated or egregious; and (2) there is sufficient reasonable evidence to support the decision. The decision to remove a team from consideration for judged awards should be done with caution and with a reasonable benefit of the doubt given to the team.
Immediately following the final Qualification match of the event, you should lead the Judges in Deliberations for all judged awards. When all winners have been determined you should record the results of all judged awards and deliver the list of award winners to the Event Partner and Tournament Manager operator.
You are responsible for coordinating the return of Engineering Notebooks to teams, and may be asked to participate in the awards ceremony. You must also ensure that all confidential judging materials are collected and properly destroyed.