Judging is an important part of Robotics Education and Competition Foundation (REC Foundation) programs. Through the judging process, students have opportunities to practice both written and verbal communication skills, as well as to demonstrate the values espoused in the Code of Conduct and Student-Centered policies. Some awards may also qualify teams to higher levels of competition.

The purpose of this document is to provide the following:

  • Policies and procedures for the judging process
  • Criteria and descriptions for awards
  • Descriptions of the roles of Judges, Judge Advisors, and Event Partners
  • Additional tools and materials to conduct the judging process

This document applies to all events that include Judged Awards for VURC, VAIRC, V5RC, and VIQRC. The goal is to improve the judging experience for teams, volunteers, and event organizers, as well as increase consistency of the judging process across event regions.

Questions can be asked on the official Judging Q&A. Only the current season’s Q&A responses are valid.

The contents of this document can also be found in the REC Foundation Knowledge Base.

Note: To be considered for the Design, Excellence, and Innovate Awards at the VEX Robotics World Championship, teams are required to earn one of the above awards at an event which directly qualifies teams to the VEX Robotics World Championship. Exceptions to this requirement may be made based on geographic circumstances. Other aspects of the VEX Robotics World Championship judging process may differ from this guide due to the scale and complexity of that event.

Key Terms, Definitions, and Links

Autonomous Coding Skills Match – An Autonomous Coding Skills Match consists of a sixty-second (1:00) Autonomous Period during which robots are controlled only by pre-loaded programming code. Only one robot is on the field for this kind of match.

Developing – An evaluation state for Engineering Notebooks that contain little detail, have few drawings, and will not be a complete record of the design process.

Digital Engineering Notebook (DEN) – An Engineering Notebook that is submitted digitally via A DEN can be natively digital, or it could be a physical notebook that has been scanned and uploaded digitally.

Driving Skills Match – A Driving Skills Match consists of a sixty-second (1:00) Driver Controlled Period during which students use controllers to drive their robot to score points. Only one robot is on the field for this match.

Engineering Design Process – The process of exploring the problem, generating, and testing solutions, and documenting results in an iterative process.

Engineering Notebook – The document submitted by a team to record their Engineering Design Process. Notebooks are sorted by Judges, and some will be evaluated according to a rubric.

Event Partner (EP) – The tournament coordinator who serves as an overall manager for the volunteers, venue, event materials, and all other event considerations. Event Partners serve as the official liaison between the REC Foundation, the event volunteers, and event attendees.

Finals Match – A match used in the process of determining the champion alliance and which occurs after Qualification Matches. Also known as an Elimination Match for V5RC, VAIRC, and VURC.

Fully Developed – An evaluation state for Engineering Notebooks that contain great detail, including detailed drawings, testing, test results, and solutions to problems the team encountered. Fully Developed notebooks include a complete record of the design process

Individual Recognition Awards – Awards that are given to a particular individual rather than a team. An example would be “Volunteer of the Year”.

Judge – Person who interacts with teams at an event to help determine winners of Judged Awards. Those who perform this role online are known as Remote Judges.

Judge Advisor – The coordinator of all Judges at an event. They are responsible for organizing Judge volunteers, guiding deliberations, and relaying the judged award results to the Event Partner and/or Tournament Manager Operator.

Judged Award – An award that is determined by Judges at an event based on standardized criteria and descriptions. An example would be the Think Award. The Sportsmanship and Energy awards can also be awarded based on volunteer nominations.

Judges’ Room - A secure and quiet room with adequate space for the judging staff to deliberate. Only the judging staff and specifically authorized volunteers should have access to this room.

Performance Award – An award based solely on a team’s on-field performance. Examples would be the Tournament Champion Award or Robot Skills Champion Award.

Qualifying Award – An award that will qualify a team to a higher level of competition, such as an Event Region Championship or the VEX Robotics World Championship. The precedence of Qualifying Awards is listed in the REC Foundation Qualifying Criteria document. Not all awards at an event may be Qualifying Awards.

Qualifying Event – An event is considered “qualifying” if it meets all of the requirements in the official Qualifying Criteria. Certain Performance and Judged Award winners at qualifying events will qualify to the next level of competition, such as an Event Region Championship.

Qualification Match – A match in which teams are randomly partnered and share a score. All Qualification Matches factor into a team’s ranking for the event and determine which teams move on to Finals Matches. The exact ranking methodology is found in the respective game manual for the current season.

RECF / REC Foundation – Abbreviations for Robotics Education & Competition Foundation, the organization which oversees the competition aspects of V5RC, VIQRC, VAIRC, and VURC events.

Regional Support Manager (RSM) – The RSM is an REC Foundation staff member who oversees team and event support for a given region. The contact information for a region’s RSM can be found here.

Team Interview – An interview, typically 10-15 minutes in duration, during which students on a team are interviewed by Judges. Teams demonstrate their ability to explain their robot design and game strategy. The information shared in this interview and the Judges’ notes become the basis for award nominations and deliberations.

Tournament Manager – The competition software that is used at events to run and score matches, assign award winners, and print out reports using scoring data from the event.

V5RC – Acronym for VEX V5 Robotics Competition, played by middle and high school aged students. The student eligibility requirements are outlined in the V5RC Game Manual.

VAIRC – Acronym for VEX AI Robotics Competition. This high school / college competition is played using the V5RC game, with notable exceptions to game play and robot construction contained in the V5RC game manual’s VAIRC section.

VIQRC – Acronym for VEX IQ Robotics Competition, played by elementary and middle school aged students. The student eligibility requirements are outlined in the VIQRC Game Manual.

VURC – Acronym for VEX U Robotics Competition, the college/university age robotics competition program. VURC is played using the V5RC game, with notable exceptions to game play and robot construction contained in the V5RC game manual’s VURC section. The student eligibility requirements are outlined in the game manual.

Key Links

REC Foundation Code of Conduct

REC Foundation Student-Centered Policy

Judging Q&A

Judge Advisor / Judge Training & Certification Course

Updates & Changelog

This document may be updated on the third Monday in the months of June, August, December, and April. Any significant changes will be listed below.

June 2024

  • Overall
    • Various grammatical and typographical fixes
    • Various edits and additions for clarity
    • Past season Q&As integrated into document
  • Section 2: Judging Roles
    • Added verbiage to clarify best practices and requirements for Judge selection, roles, and certifications
  • Section 3: Event Preparation and Execution
    • Added verbiage to clarify best practices and requirements for Event Partners and Judges
  • Section 4: Awards 
    • Added requirement of Engineering Notebook for numerous awards
    • Made changes to Excellence Award criteria and requirements
    • Noted that the Innovate Award is now a required award
    • Made changes to the Innovate Award submission requirements
    • Made subtractive and/or additive changes to all award criteria
  • Section 5: Judging Engineering Notebooks
    • Added section, “The Engineering Notebook: Purpose & Academic Honesty”
    • Refined list of what Engineering Notebooks should contain
    • Removed guidance for percentages of notebooks in consideration for awards
    • Collated best practices for the handling of Engineering Notebooks
    • Added guidance for Judges to conduct both Team Interviews and notebook evaluations
  • Collateral / Supporting Documents
    • Updated to reflect changes in the Guide to Judging
    • Changed “Innovation / Originality” criteria to “Independent Inquiry” in Engineering Notebook Rubric
    • Added “Creativity / Originality” criteria to Team Interview Rubric

Note: For events occurring up to seven (7) days after the release of a new version of the Guide to Judging, both the current version and the previous version of the Guide to Judging as well as printable judging materials are valid for use in qualifying events. This is so as not to present an undue burden for those running events in this one-week period that may have prepared materials using the previous version. Events occurring after those dates must use the most up to date judging materials and verbiage found in the current version of the Guide to Judging.

Continue to the next section, Guide to Judging: Judging Principles