Volunteer Roles Overview

Role Description Activity Experience Skills

Field Reset

Accurately reset the competition field after each match and assist the Field Manager or Head Referee as needed. Note students with high energy and younger children do well.

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Beginner.jpg

No experience is needed

Ability to review field diagrams to place game objects in correct location on the competition field

Move quickly around the field

Good listening skills

 

Queuing

Assist with staging teams for upcoming matches.

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No experience required

Communicate effectively

Attention to detail

Stay organized in fast-paced environment

Follow Instruction

Pit Admin Assistant

Serve in a customer service role by assisting teams and guests with competition and venue related questions.

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Beginner.jpg

No experience required

Ability to troubleshoot issues

Communicate effectively

Team
Check-in

Welcome teams as they arrive. Verify teams, hand out materials, and collect Engineering Notebooks. Answer basic questions.

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Beginner.jpg

No experience required

Attention to detail

Communicate effectively

Comfortable using a computer

Volunteer Check-in

Welcome volunteers and guests. Verify schedule, hand out materials, direct volunteers to appropriate locations. Answer basic questions. Can be a fast-paced role.

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No experience required

Attention to detail

Communicate effectively

Comfortable using a computer

Practice Field Official

Oversee practice fields and ensure that all teams have access to practice time and proceed in an orderly fashion.

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No experience required

Monitor students and keep order

Communicate effectively

Judge

Evaluate student teams through interviews, Engineering Notebooks, multi-media presentations, and on the field performance. Present awards as needed.

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Prefer some judging experience but not necessary

Attention to detail

Be impartial

Communicate effectively

Inspector

Conduct inspections to verify the robots comply with the rules and specifications outlined in the Game Manual.

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Basic knowledge of robot construction and familiarity with VRC & VIQC parts helpful, not mandatory

Collaborate with others as a team

Attention to detail

Follow inspection checklist (provided)

Scorekeeper Referee

Record scores using TM Mobile app or paper score sheets. Verify recorded scores with the Head Referee as needed and with the student drivers after each match. Discus possible rule violations with the Head Referee after the match. Ensure field is reset and robots are ready for the next match. (Same for Skills)

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Experienced volunteers preferred however; Scorekeeper Referees can be new volunteers and trained quickly

Apply knowledge of the game and rules and be impartial

Attention to detail

Work effectively as a member of a team

Interact positively with students

VEX TM Operator

Use Tournament Manager software to initiate matches and record scores. Coordinate with the Emcee on displaying of match results at appropriate times.

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Experienced volunteers are preferred, but new volunteers can be trained in advance

Comfortable using a computer

Attention to detail

Emcee

Provide the play-by-play during the tournament and informative program knowledge between matches. Add enthusiasm and energy, as well as a high level of engagement and understanding, for all event participants.

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Experience is preferred but not required

Outgoing and charismatic communication style to engage and energize the audience

Work as a team with other volunteers

Think quickly and improvise

Head Referee

Organize and oversee all Scorekeeper Referees. Interpret and consistently enforce the rules of the game to score the match upon completion and is the final authority for any disputes or rulings. Train Scorekeeper Referees as needed.

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Previous referee experience is required

Apply knowledge of the game and rules

Lead a team effectively

Interact positively with students and coaches

Arbitrate disputes fairly and quickly deescalate arguments

Recruitment

Volunteering and participating in VEX Robotics events can help others get inspired, fuel their passion, learn new skills, expand their network, and get exposure to new ways of doing things. There are many sources to consider when recruiting volunteers. You should get the word out early about your event and share the key messages of robotics and STEM programs to find people who feel this truly resonates with them.

Consider the following sources:

  • Parents, Teachers, School Administrators, Mentors, Local Robotics Teams, and Siblings – Remember, volunteering can be a family affair! Younger siblings are often good at Field Reset.
  • Partner with Local Schools – Contact nearby schools and agree to do a “volunteer swap” so they provide volunteers for your event, and you provide volunteers for their event.
  • Local Businesses and Sponsors – Robotics events are perfect for company team-building experiences, so contact a company's HR department if you don’t know already someone there.
  • Schools, Colleges, and Universities – Classes, honor societies, sororities, and fraternities may have community service requirements for membership, scholarships, or graduation. Also look to clubs/groups, College of Engineering, and ROTC programs for assistance. Give your local Army recruiter a table in exchange for providing volunteers. Pre-service tech and student teachers are also ideal candidates for volunteering.
  • Community Groups, Organization Chapters, and Church Groups – Many are looking for guest speakers, or may allow you to set up a table to hand out volunteer recruitment materials. Check with your local maker community, TechSoup, Local UAW, NSBE, IEEE, SWE, Chamber of Commerce, library, etc.
  • Online ResourcesLinkedIn has a site dedicated to volunteer opportunities, and there are free and subscription services like VolunteerMatch and Idealist.org where you can post volunteer opportunities for the public. Don’t forget social media like Facebook and Twitter, if you have existing accounts or participate in groups with followers.
  • Employee Programs and Corporate Responsibility – Many local and national chains have community service and philanthropy goals, and employee volunteering is part of their culture. Some will even provide a grant donation to your event if you get a particular number of volunteers from their location.
  • REC Foundation Volunteer Care Team – Email volunteers@roboticseducation.org for assistance.

Involving Volunteers

Encourage potential volunteers to visit REC Foundation Library > Volunteers to learn more about how they can become involved in supporting your event. Volunteering at our event competitions can be rewarding and fun.

There are a variety of volunteer roles available, and many volunteer positions do not require technical skills or experience, only a desire to support engaging learning opportunities for students.

Whatever your potential volunteers are interested in, help them identify the role that best suits them. Volunteers can view volunteer training materials and learn how to sign up for a local event in their area or for the VEX Robotics World Championship at REC Foundation Library > Volunteers.

Note: Volunteers under the age of 18 must be supervised by an onsite adult in case of emergency.

Volunteer Job Descriptions

Post clear information about your volunteer needs in your event listing on RobotEvents.com. Give prospective volunteers more information than simply, “Volunteers needed – please contact <person’s name>.” Fill out the Volunteer tab in RobotEvents.com as completely as possible, listing needed roles to spark interest, and providing clear instructions for how to sign up. To make it easy, we've created a Volunteer Tab information template to use as a starting point for your event. A list of the most common volunteer positions is available in the Volunteer Roles Overview article, including basic skills and experience needed. The documents at REC Foundation Library > Volunteers provide detailed information for most common volunteer roles, including responsibilities, required training, and apparel for each role. Volunteers can also register in the REC Foundation Volunteer Management System to find detailed information on every role.

Volunteer Expectations

Encourage volunteers to dress comfortably and appropriately for events. Clothing should be team- neutral, and a polo shirt or t-shirt with jeans or dress pants is fine. Volunteers should wear comfortable closed-toed shoes, and may want to wear safety glasses in the practice area and near the game field. If you are providing volunteer t-shirts, please advise your volunteers of that ahead of time. Volunteers should plan to arrive at your event early enough for any on-site training (recommend 30 minutes minimum), be on time for their assignments, share a cheerful, positive attitude, and be flexible and open to helping other volunteers if assistance is needed.

Recommended Volunteer Staffing Plan for Tournaments

The following are sample volunteer staffing plans. Volunteer needs for each event will vary, depending upon size, format, and layout. Use this table only as a guide for your volunteer recruitment and planning. Volunteers such as Inspectors, Team Check-In, Team Queuing, and Scorekeeping Referees may be able to fill dual roles in order to fully utilize their event support. For example, one volunteer can help with Team Check-In in the morning, and then transition to a Scorekeeper Referee or Team Queuing once matches begin. Teams can also help reset fields after each match under the supervision of the Head Referee, as can younger siblings watching the competition. Optional roles are also listed for events that have additional volunteer support.

VRC Tournaments

VEX Robotics Competition
  Local Levels (1 Day Events Signature Levels and/or State Tournaments (1-2* Day Events)
16-24 Teams 24-60 Teams 60 + Teams 10-24 Teams 24-48 Teams 36-96 Teams* 64-144 Teams*
Qualification Matches 2 Fields 3 Fields 3 Fields 2 Fields 3 Fields 3 Fields 3 Fields
Emcee 1 1 1 1 1 1 to 2 per division 1 to 2 per division
Head Referee 1 1 1 1 1 1 per division 1 per division
TM Operator 1 1 1 1 1 1 per division 1 per division
Scorekeeper Referee 4 6 8 4 8 8 12
Queuer 2 3 3 2 3 3 to 6 3 to 6
Field Resetter 4 to 6 6 to 8 6 to 8 4 to 6 6 to 8 6 to 12 6 to 12
Robot Skills Challenge 2 Fields 3-4 Fields 3-4 Fields 3 Fields 3-4 Fields 3-4 Fields 4-6 Fields
TM Operator (Optional) 1 1 1 1 1 1 1
Scorekeeper Referee 1 per skills field 1 per skills field
Other - - - - - - -
Judge (2 per 8 teams) 4 4 to 6 8 to 12 4 6 to 8 5 to 12 8 to 18
Judge Advisor 1 1 1 1 1 1 per division 1 per division
Team Check In 1 1 1 1 1 1 1
Volunteer Coordinator 1 1 1 1 1 1 1
Inspector 3 4 to 6 4 to 6 3 4 to 6 4 to 6 6 to 12
Practice Field Official 1 2 to 4 2 to 8 1 2 to 4 2 to 8 2 to 8
Pit Admin (optional) 1 1 1 1 1 1 1
*If a 2 Day event, Check In, Inspection, and Skills will usually begin on Day 1
*over 60 teams will typically have multiple divisions (recommended numbers are based on single division tournaments)

VIQC Tournaments

VEX IQ Competition
  Local Levels (1 Day Events) Signature Levels and/or State Tournaments (1-2* Day Events)
16-24 Teams 24-60 Teams 60+ Teams 10-24 Teams 24-48 Teams 36-96 Teams* 64-144 Teams*
Qualification Matches 2 Fields 3 Fields 3 Fields 2 Fields 3 Fields 3 Fields 3 Fields
Emcee 1 1 1 1 1 1 to 2 per division 1 to 2 per division
Head Referee 1 1 1 1 1 1 per division 1 per division
TM Operator 1 1 1 1 1 1 per division 1 per division
Scorekeeper Referee 2 4 4 2 8 8 12
Queuer 2 3 3 2 3 3 to 6 3 to 6
Field Resetter 4 to 6 6 to 8 6 to 8 4 to 6 6 to 8 6 to 12 6 to 12
Robot Skills Challenge 2 Fields 3-4 Fields 3-4 Fields 3 Fields 3-4 Fields 3-4 Fields 4-6 Fields
TM Operator (Optional) 1 1 1 1 1 1 1
Scorekeeper Referee 1 per skills field 1 per skills field
Other - - - - - - -
Judge (2 per 8 teams) 4 4 to 6 8 to 12 4 6 to 8 5 to 12 8 to 18
Judge Advisor 1 1 1 1 1 1 per division 1 per division
Team Check In 1 1 1 1 1 1 1
Volunteer Coordinator 1 1 1 1 1 1 1
Inspector 3 4 to 6 4 to 6 3 4 to 6 4 to 6 6 to 12
Practice Field Official 1 2 to 4 2 to 8 1 2 to 4 2 to 8 2 to 8
Pit Admin (Optional) 1 1 1 1 1 1 1
*If a 2 Day event, Check In, Inspection, and Skills will usually begin on Day 1
*over 60 teams will typically have multiple divisions (recommended numbers are based on single division tournaments)

Volunteer Management System (VMS)

In 2019, the REC Foundation implemented a new Volunteer Management System (VMS). You may utilize the VMS for all events once they have been approved in RobotEvents. The VMS Training Guide includes step-by-step instructions to successfully utilize the VMS as your primary scheduling tool. Event Partners can link their RobotEvents account to the VMS.

Volunteer Training and Preparation

  • Online Resources – Please instruct all volunteers to carefully review the Volunteer Guide and all posted training materials for their position(s) a week prior to your scheduled event. In addition to the training materials the REC Foundation provides, you may wish to include videos, narrated PowerPoints, and more. Give volunteers the opportunity to ask questions and prepare before the event date.
  • Watch Matches – Advise them to watch matches for the current season's game on YouTube to get familiar with the event style. Provide them with specific links if possible.
  • Scorekeeper Referee Training Videos – Referees are required to watch the Referee Training Videos for the current season and to be knowledgeable about the current game rules.
  • Head Referee & Judge Advisor Certifications – In addition to training videos, Head Referees and Judge Advisors are required to complete Certification courses. Select the course(s) you are interested in below:
  • Training Calls – Consider holding your own training calls a week prior to your event, setting expectations and giving volunteers the opportunity to ask questions.
  • Attend a Local Event – Encourage volunteers to attend another local event if possible, to get a feel for how tournaments are run, and perhaps even shadow another volunteer in their upcoming role.
  • Train volunteers at a Skills Only event – If you host a Skills Only event, this is an ideal time to train volunteers and give them some hands-on experience.
  • Sensitivity Training – Remind volunteers that tournaments are student events where they will work with children. They should do what they can to make the kids feel comfortable, like taking a knee to get down on their level, talking firmly but positively, and never touching or grabbing a student. Volunteers should also be sensitive to students from different cultures who may be competing.
  • Onsite Orientation – If you are able, hold an in-person training session the evening before your event (often referred to as the “Night Before” event) so that volunteers can meet the volunteer team and get on-site training. Many “Night Before” events run practice matches if there is a host team or home team available to help set up. This will help build volunteers’ confidence, making the morning of your event run more smoothly. Whether you host training the night before, or provide training onsite the morning of your event, plan to provide volunteers with the training documentation and materials required to successfully perform their roles and enjoy their event experience. This may include printing out hard copies of Volunteer Role Guides, field diagrams for reset, score sheets, etc.

Volunteer Care and Appreciation

  • Food & Drink – Have water and snacks available for all volunteers throughout the day, and provide lunch for those who volunteer for a full event day. Hydration, food, and appropriate breaks are important to the volunteer experience. If it is possible, stop the entire competition for lunch so that ALL volunteers can take a break and eat; plan for lunch shifts if the entire competition cannot stop at the same time. If you have space, set up a Volunteer Break Room or roped-off area for volunteer use.
  • Comfort – Be sure to advise your volunteers to wear comfortable shoes and bring a water bottle (if you're not providing them). If possible, have a few packs of lozenges in the volunteer break area to help soothe vocal cords.
  • Recognition & Certificates – If funding is available, use t-shirts and/or name tags to identify your volunteers as a valuable event resource. Share your appreciation with your volunteers, who provide invaluable support to your efforts. Recognize volunteers by providing them with a Community Service Certificate that is customized with your event name. Many companies and schools require documentation either to allow employees to volunteer or some may even provide an incentive for validating volunteering time, so be sure to record individual volunteer hours. You can order trophy packs, as well as individual trophies and plates, from VEX at VEXRobotics.com.
  • Tokens of Appreciation – Even on a small budget, consider giving volunteers (or key volunteers) a small gift certificate, like $5 to Starbucks or a local food venue.
  • Hand-written notes – The power of a hand-written “Thank You” goes a long way today!
  • Social Media – If you are active on social media, consider writing a brief recommendation for a key volunteer on LinkedIn or giving a shout out on Twitter with a photo if they go above and beyond the call of duty. Tag them on Twitter along with @REC_Foundation. You can also send volunteer and event photos to the REC Foundation at media@roboticseducation.org.
  • Follow Up & Keep in Touch – Email your volunteers after the event to gauge satisfaction and collect opinions on event success, or use SurveyMonkey to send some short questions. Also keep in touch with volunteers for future events. If you have the budget, host a volunteer appreciation dinner or party. A happy volunteer who has a great experience will usually return!

Best Practices Shared by Our Event Partners

Volunteer Recruitment

  • Share Head Referees with EPs of nearby events. Check out the event map on RobotEvents.com.
  • If short on volunteers, use the power of the of the mic to recruit help: “We're looking for a few smiling faces to help us out!”
  • If abundant, don’t turn volunteers away! Use extras as relief/floaters.
  • Consider adding a requirement to participate in League Play:
    • Every team must provide five volunteers, or…
    • Every member of a team must volunteer for one or more events.
  • Partner with school Club Advisors. Volunteering is an easy way to earn service hours for both the club members and the club as a whole.
  • Inquire with local religious schools and educational institutions. May require parents to do community service in lieu of tuition.

Volunteer Appreciation

  • As a thank you, make a collage of photos from the event in Shutterfly or an equivalent online service, have the kids write a personal message (yearbook style), and print them out to send to volunteers.
  • If you want to encourage volunteers to “move up the ranks,” provide a badge or button they can wear, based on their experience and how many events they have attended.

Volunteer Training

  • Have a succession plan for Key Volunteers. Younger students can shadow/learn. Train a minion!
  • Encourage volunteers to attend additional events now that they have the process down.

Event Setup and Tear Down

  • Add volunteer roles for “Setup Crew.” It’s best to have 6-8 adults and plentiful students helping. ROTC and local Civil Air Patrol are fantastic at helping set up (give them an info table at your event).
  • Pre-stage materials in advance.
  • For Setup Day:
    • If possible, set up the day before the event! There is rarely enough time to set up an event the morning of the tournament.
    • Have two people set up Tournament Manager.
    • Have two people run cables.
    • Have one adult and two kids constructing each field.
    • Use power tools for VRC field setup.
    • Appoint a leader to oversee each area: pits, competition fields, concession stand, etc.
    • Be sure to test the TM computer, all field electronics, projectors, printer, etc. before leaving for the night; everything should be fully functional and ready to go!
  • Make it mandatory for students to stay after school on the night before an event to help set up.
  • Seven days before your event, email all school club advisors to provide two volunteers.
  • For Tear Down:
    • Utilize parents who have been sitting in bleachers. They have “fresh legs” and can help.
    • Partner with other host teams. Have them help with your event tear down and you help with theirs.
    • Any school club needing service hours can help with tear down. They don’t need any VEX experience, just willingness to help.