Guide to Judging: Judging Principles


The following Judging Principles, when taken as a whole, outline an ethos that all of those serving as Judges, Judge Advisors, and Event Partners should follow. The Judging role is a very important one that can make a tremendous impact on the students involved. Judges work together as a part of a larger group in evaluating teams against given award criteria. The ability of all judging volunteers to interact with students and fellow Judges rationally and respectfully is of the utmost importance.

All Judging volunteers should keep the following principles in mind:


The judging process includes both discussions concerning teams as well as written notes and rubrics. These must remain confidential. Judges should take precautions to ensure that any discussions are not overheard by or shared with teams, other event participants, or event staff. Written judging materials, including Judges notes, rubrics, and awards worksheets are to be given to the Judge Advisor for disposal after the event.

Those with access to Engineering Notebooks are not to retain them after the event is over in any form, neither physical nor digital, nor retain photos taken for deliberation purposes at the event.

If the Judges notice a team recording an interview or judging notes, either for their own interview or another team’s interview, they should immediately stop the interview. The identity and team affiliation of the person recording should be noted. The Event Partner and Judge Advisor should take immediate action, including asking the recording party to delete any recordings of the interview. The act of recording or copying confidential judging notes should be seen as a Code of Conduct violation by the affiliated team(s), and should be documented in writing and submitted to the REC Foundation as a Code of Conduct violation.


Judges should disclose any possible conflicts of interest between them and a team at the event to the Judge Advisor and Event Partner. Judges should not be in a position to contribute to discussion or decisions involving that team. Event Partners may not recommend, advise, or assign judged awards to any team. All volunteers involved in judging should take care to remove any outward appearances of conflicts of interest, including team shirts, buttons, or branded items that would appear to favor any team at the event.


Engineering Notebooks and Team Interviews should be evaluated under similar conditions. This allows for a more consistent evaluation of each team. This applies to in-person judging at an event and judging for an event that includes both remote and in-person evaluation of notebooks and interviews. For example: Evaluating some notebooks remotely ahead of an event and evaluating others in-person at the event, or allowing some team interviews to last 30 minutes and while others are only 10 minutes long would be violations of this principle, as these instances do not provide a consistent judging experience for all teams and may give some teams advantages over others in the judging process.

Qualitative Judgement

Judges are expected to apply qualitative judgement when making final decisions on all judged awards. For example, while completing the Engineering Notebook Rubric results in a quantitative score, Judges must still deliberate and apply qualitative judgement when making a final determination on the Design Award winner.


Only a limited number of teams at an event will earn a judged award. However, every team at an event must be given an equal opportunity to be interviewed by Judges even if they have not turned in an Engineering Notebook to be evaluated. A team that elects to not participate in Judging by declining to be interviewed is not impacted by this decision in any other part of the competition.


No team shall be awarded more than one Judged Award at an event. Performance based awards such as Tournament Champion, or awards presented to an individual, such as Volunteer of the Year Award do not affect a team’s eligibility to earn a judged award.


Awards should go to the team which best exemplifies the award description and meets the requirements of the award and still adhere to the Balance principle of not awarding more than one judged award per team. Teams at an event should be judged on their merits and behavior at that event only. Judged Awards should not be reallocated based on Performance Awards or awards earned by a team at a past event.

Youth Protection

Judges must not be alone with students. Whenever possible, judges should work with at least one other Judge in a public space such as a pit area. No meetings should take place in a private space unless the team is accompanied by a responsible adult (coach, mentor, or parent). Judges should avoid asking students personal questions that do not relate to the team, event, or robot.

Student-Centered Teams

Teams must be student-centered, which means that students have ownership on how their robot is designed, built, programmed, and utilized in match play with other teams and Robot Skills matches. Through observation, interviews with teams, and considering input from event staff, Judges identify teams that are student-centered, and give higher consideration to teams that favor the enhancement of student learning over teams that favor winning at any cost. Teams that are not student-centered should not receive judged awards. Additional information and guidance on student-centered teams can be found in the REC Foundation Student-Centered Policy.

Team Ethics and Conduct

The REC Foundation considers the positive, respectful, and ethical conduct of teams to be an essential component of the competition. A team includes the students, teachers, coaches, mentors, and parents associated with the team. All participants are expected to act with integrity, honesty, and reliability and operate as student-centered teams with limited adult assistance. Judges will consider all team conduct when determining judged awards. This is covered in greater detail by the RECF Code of Conduct and Student-Centered Policy.

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