ROBOTICON 2021 Q&A for Teams
Check out how we handled a 2nd season of COVID-19 challenges for our youth robotics showcase, in the 2021 Q&A below!
As we head into another competition season still filled with the uncertainties of COVID-19, we’re doing our best to create a hybrid Youth Robotics Showcase & Off-Season event that we hope is fun, educational and safe for everyone.
We’re hosting the event across multiple weekends in October, running small scale matches inside AMRoC Fab Lab at University Mall, on full size competition fields, with current season games for VEX, FIRST LEGO League, and FIRST Tech Challenge teams, and modified game play and skills challenges for FIRST Robotics Competition teams. Matches will be livestreamed, as will some educational content.
Understandably, teams have had questions about this format, and what to expect or plan for. So we’ve developed this Q&A page to share some of the questions we’ve gotten, and that we know many teams might also have, along with current answers.
Please note that some of the answers might change between now (August 22, 2021) and the start of the event on October 1, 2021. But we’ll continue to add your questions, and new information as available, and will keep this page updated as we go.
We appreciate your patience and understanding, and thank you for journeying on the ROBOTICON 2021 adventure with us!
Q. Why should we register for this event?
A. Seriously? Where else are you going to get ROBOTICON level fun, interaction and education? This is the only game in town – in the whole state, as a matter of fact – and the only place where you can play together on full competition fields and tables, and get anything approaching the feel of a pre-COVID-19 era competition experience right now. It’s affordable, small scale, health and safety oriented, and professionally managed with a focus on a quality academic experience that’s fun. What’s not to love?
Q. Where is the event being held?
A. ROBOTICON 2021 is being held at Univesity Mall – just west of the University of South Florida, on Fowler Avenue – throughout most of October.
Q. Is any portion of ROBOTICON being held at the Yuengling Center at the University of South Florida?
A. No, not this year.
Q: What are the chances of ROBOTICON being cancelled the day we arrive?
A: ROBOTICON is not an official FIRST or VEX event, but rather independently produced by the nonprofit Foundation for Community Driven Innovation (FCDI) and program partners, and thus not subject to any other organization’s rules or regulations. As we’re producing this as a month-long event in our own facility (AMRoC Fab Lab) , in a public space (University Mall) unless there is some high level public threat like a hurricane on one of the program weekends, it will not be cancelled. And even then teams would have sufficient advance notice.
Q. What’s the last refund date?
A: Registration fees are refundable up to September 30 if the team cancels, and fully refundable if we cancel for any reason. Registered teams will receive invoices for payment starting the 1st week in September,and payment will be due by Sept. 15.
Q: We see there is a limit of 5 team members per team in the Fab Lab for assigned match times. Is it possible to bring more team members that we set up off site or outside or something and then rotate the 5 team members that go in for matches?
A. Yes Indeed! Teams participating in each weekend’s events will be able to set up in a designated Robotics Teams Expo area, at the west end of University Mall, within view of, and easy walking distance to AMRoC Fab Lab.
Teams can set up booths there for the weekend, or however long they stay with us. That way, teams can bring more students and those who aren’t in matches, or in workshops or tours can be showcasing their team.
Teams can bring Innovation Challenge info/prototypes, other robots and projects to show off, video, etc. Teams will have at least a 6 ft. table area in the Expo. You can have as many students as you’d like in the Expo area, as long as everyone is respectful of other teams’ space in the Expo, and remains mindful and respectful of nearby mall retailers.
Q: What games are teams playing?
A: We plan to have current season game play with full playing field and game elements for all programs except, as might be expected, FIRST Robotics Competition.
For FRC teams, we’ll be holding a conversation with registered teams to find some general consensus on what teams are configured to play, to make sure that the skills and modified game play we have in mind is something participating teams can play and enjoy. You can see the games we played during last season’s ROBOTICON Digital event HERE for an idea of what games might look like this year, as well.
Full info will be on the Games page.
Q: Will teams be able to play head to head matches?
A: Our goal is to have 2 v. 2 matches at minimum, for all programs, wherever there are enough registered teams to support some type of alliance game play.
Q: It looks like each team is given a time block where they participate in some activities. Can you clarify what that might look like?
A: Each weekend in October, through Oct. 24, we’ll host game play opportunities for a different youth robotics platform. FIRST LEGO League and VEX teams one weekend, FIRST Robotics Competetition on another, FIRST Tech Challenge on a third, and even alumni of programs will have their own weekend.
Teams will receive assigned competition times for their weekend, in advance, and will have 15 minute buffers between changes of match shifts. In AMRoC Fab Lab, where game play will be held, up to four teams at a time may compete in scheduled alliance matches. Teams may have only 5 students and a coach in the facility, and masks will be required to be worn at all times inside of AMRoC.
We’re aiming for at least 3 matches per assigned competition times, with top score play offs at the end of each day.
When not competiing in matches in AMRoC, teams may participate in workshops and programs in the classroom space next door to AMRoC, provide outreach in their team’s booth in the Youth Robotics Expo, enjoy Diamond View Studio tours, browse the Engineering Expo or enjoy other educational and entertainment opportunities we’re still working to schedule for the event. Full program agenda will be posted to the Event Agenda page prior to the start of ROBOTICON 2021.
Q. What’s ROBOTICON’s full COVID-19 Policy?
A: Here’s what we’re requiring and recommending:
- Masks required inside AMRoC Fab Lab at all times, during matches, in mini-pits and in the workshop by both youth and adults
- Four teams, max, and no more than 5 students and 1 coach/mentor from each team permitted in AMRoC during scheduled matches
- Teams may swap out students from the Team Expo area to give more students opportunities at a competition table or field.
- Hand sanitizing upon entry to AMRoC and team pit areas cleaned before exiting, for next teams’ use
- Masks are required in classroom space at all times, by youth and adults
- Masks highly recommended in Teams Expo, and required in the Engineering Expo area, as per the University of South Florida, and when interacting with guests, sponsors and passers-by on behalf of ROBOTICON
Q: What’s the Team Expo area all about?
A: In order to allow more students to participate in ROBOTICON in as safe a way as possible, during their program day (FLL, FTC, VEX, FRC) will each be given booth space of about 8×8 feet (possibly 10×10) just west of and within sight of AMRoC Fab Lab in University Mall for a “home base” from which to:
- Provide outreach
- Showcase their Innovation Challenge and other projects
- Interact with each other
- Recruit new team members, mentors and sponsors
- Take turns competing during scheduled matches in AMRoC Fab Lab
Teams must adhere to the ROBOTICON Code of Conduct at all times and clean up their space completely at the end of the day or when they leave
Q: Will there be a public viewing area for other team members, parents, etc to gather and watch live stream?
A: We’ll be livestreaming matches each weekend via Facebook Live, and ROBOTICON’s YouTube and Twitch channels. For family and friends traveling with teams, we’ll be providing a live feed to the big front window of AMRoC Fab Lab, as well as to the Team Expo area.