Frequently Asked Questions

Supporting future STEM standouts!

How to Find Help and Information During the Season

Q: How do teams stay informed during the season?

A: There are four ways teams can stay informed during the season:

1. First off (slight pun intended), season information may be found at Please check this regularly as headquarters posts updates regularly.

2. Sign up for our weekly newsletter, Robot Tuesday, here! Once the season begins, we feature updates from the Regional Planning Committee, fellow teams/mentors, and different supporting companies and organizations. It is an excellent source for information and resources. It is open to anyone who is interested in keeping up with our region and we strongly recommend that mentors share information with student team members and families.

3. We also have an active SoCal FIRST Tech Challenge Facebook page featuring even more updates and photos from events here. We have an active Mentor Facebook Group for all mentors to share stories, resources, and ideas. Coaches and mentors, please email for an invitation.

4. Please know that if you have any questions or concerns, we are here to support you and your students throughout all your endeavors. For registration questions and all other questions, please email us at at any time. We wish you the best in these upcoming months and look forward to meeting you soon!

Engineering Notebook / Portfolio

Q: Have teams organized their Engineering Notebook by award before? Is it a viable option? 

A: Some teams have presented an engineering notebook organized by award. The notebook can be arranged in a way that makes it easy to show the additional supporting content if the judges have questions. 

Q: What are the rules for the Engineering Portfolio? Are the 15 pages and the Portfolio separate categories? 

A: The 15 pages is the entire engineering portfolio. Teams may use on side of the first page as a cover sheet. In total, the engineering portfolio would amount to 8 sheets of 8.5 inch x 11 inch paper (U.S.) or 210mm x 297mm (EU), if printed on both sides of the paper. 

Q: How will Think Judging be different with the introduction of the Engineering Portfolio? 

A: Judges will rely heavily on the quality of the engineering portfolio to make their decisions about the Think Award. The criteria is listed in Game Manual Part 1 and from the perspective of the judges, the portfolio should cover examples and narrative to cover the criteria (this is true for all awards).  

Q: Is there a preferred format for the engineering portfolio that is most helpful for the judges?

A: The judges are looking for evidence of the award criteria in the portfolio. Organizing the portfolio with a focus on award criteria is helpful and makes it easier for the judges to locate in the portfolio. Making it easy to read (e.g. font size, font or paper color can help or hinder readability) is also helpful to consider. 

Q: When should my team upload the engineering portfolio for our remote event? 

A: After a team is invited to an event, the Lead Coach 1 of the team will receive instructions on how, when, and where to upload the engineering portfolio.

Q: Would you encourage that we continue to do meeting entries in the engineering portfolio? 

A: Teams will have better content for their engineering portfolio if they continue to create entries in their engineering notebook. Remember, the engineering portfolio should be made up of the best examples of content from the engineering notebook.

QIn what situations might the judges need more information from my team? 

A: Judges will ask for more information in the same situations that they would request more information at a traditional event. For example, if the if the portfolio and interviews are not sufficient to help answer the questions to determine which teams are most deserving for an award.

Q: Will judges still request to see our engineering notebook as well as our engineering portfolio?

A: The judges may request specific pages of content from the engineering notebook, but it is highly unlikely that judges will request the entire engineering notebook.

Q: Are things like cover pages, table of contents, and the summary page part of the 15 pages? Or is it 15 pages of documentation plus the cover page and table of contents? 

A: The engineering portfolio can include a table of contents and a summary page, and those pages are counted as part of the 15 pages.

Q: I was looking through the remote game manual and I see two sections. One for the engineering notebook and the other for engineering portfolio. I sort of understand the difference, but do we do both? Are they supposed to be separate or in the same file/binder? 

A: The engineering notebook is used to capture the entire season in detail. The engineering portfolio is a concise subset of the information included in the engineering notebook. You could think of the engineering portfolio as the executive summary of the engineering notebook. Most awards require a team to turn in the engineering portfolio to be considered for the award. The engineering notebook is highly encouraged. Teams will pull the best content from their engineering notebook to create the engineering portfolio. Also keep in mind that the judges may request more details from the engineering notebook that aren’t included in the engineering profile.

Q: Aside from what FIRST sets as minimum requirements for both the engineering notebook and the engineering portfolio, are the judges more concerned with the format requirements and presentation, or the content? 

A: The judges who review the engineering portfolio are instructed that content is most important. Teams should still ensure the engineering portfolio is well formatted. If the portfolio is hard to read, not well organized, etc., it could make it difficult for judges to adequately focus on the content.

Q: Are there any recommendations for the amount of pages in each section (engineering, team plan, etc.) for the portfolio? 

A: There are no recommendations for the amount of pages in each section.

Judges Interview

Q: Can a team show videos of the robot in the presentation to the Judges? Are there rules about the presentation?

A: The presentation portion of judging interview is exactly 5 minutes, and must be presented “live”. Teams may show a video of their robot during the 5-minute presentation period, but the video must not include sound and team must narrate the video during the interview.

Q: Will the Judges be able to or allowed to reference external materials (web sites, YouTube videos, etc.) that are mentioned in the Engineering Portfolio?

A: Like at a traditional event, judges will not access materials that are not presented as part of the judging interview. Judges are instructed to only use information that is presented to them and are generally instructed not to follow links, etc. The only exception is for the Control Award submission which specifically calls out a video link that will demonstrate the control features that the team wants to highlight.

Q: Will teams be allowed to reference their own Engineering Portfolio during “pit judging” as if they were referencing their pit display (posters, pictures, etc.)? With remote events, teams won’t have the ability to showcase things in their pits. 

A: Teams will be permitted to reference their own engineering portfolio, engineering notebook, pictures or video to answer judges’ questions during the second interview phase of judging.

Q: Could a team submit a pre-recorded video as their judging presentation? 

A: Teams cannot submit a video in place of their live judging presentation.