This is my first article for The Blue Alliance Blog, and as the Chairman’s lead for Team 1540, I thought it would be interesting to see what strategies other teams use in their Chairman’s Award submissions. This was inspired by Spectrum’s How I Work blog series.
Interview has been slightly edited for clarity.
Who are you, and which team are you from?
My name is Emma Galligan and I’m from Team 1011, CRUSH.
What’s your position on your team?
I am head of business.
What major awards has your team won in the past two years, and where have you won them?
We won Imagery and Engineering Inspiration in 2014 in Colorado, Chairman’s in Arizona in 2015, Engineering Inspiration in 2015 in Colorado, and Championship Imagery in the Galileo Division in 2015.
How did you get involved with Chairman’s on your team? Talk about your journey to where you are now.
In eighth grade I initially did all the contacting of sponsors and trying to recruit new ones, but one of my mentors appreciated my writing and recommended I write the Chairman’s essay for our team. After a lot of researching and watching a lot of Chairman’s videos from other teams, I fell in LOVE with Chairman’s, especially because of my prior experience with the research project in FLL. Since then, I’ve changed our team’s approach to Chairman’s and it has gained so much more respect!
How does your team prepare the presenters before they go into the interview?
Before we go into the interview we have practiced over and over again, in front of mentors, our parents and even our teammates. In order to help with the nerves and get us excited, we pamper ourselves by getting Starbucks and by listening to music. We have the entire team escort us to the interview and wait for us outside while we present to cheer us on when we get out. The interview is always a fun experience, even for those that don’t present.
How do your presenters dress?
We dress in business casual in our team’s colors (orange and blue). Usually the girls wear a blue or orange skirt with a blue or orange top and heels. The boys usually wear a blue dress shirt, an orange tie, and black slacks.
What does your presentation look like? Do you do a skit, a formal presentation…?
In the past our team did formal presentations, but this year we loosened up and had a slightly scripted and relaxed conversation in front of the judges about our experiences, as if we were sitting at a Café. This brought down the nerves and made our presentation more memorable.
What questions do you typically get asked, either by interview judges or pit judges? Any particularly tough ones?
We usually get asked about how we mentor FLL teams, what our team members want to do as a career, and whatever didn’t have a lot of details in the essay.
How does your team handle pit judges? Who talks to them, what do you give them?
We have a few assigned team members that handle pit judges, although most of our team is able to answer their questions. The ones that are assigned stand by our pit ready to talk to any judges that come by. Our favorite thing to hand out is our buttons because they are so unique and make a great conversation starter.
Do your essays typically have a theme?
Our essays usually have a theme that is unique to our team. For example, two years ago we had our theme be “Firsts” because it was our first year holding an official off-season event. This year’s theme was “crush,” which brought a lot of plays on words.
What did you think of the change this year from judge feedback to mentor feedback?
This change made knowing what to improve on a lot harder. It’s harder to receive accurate feedback from a mentor that already knows what we’re talking about and has already seen the presentation several times, than to get it from a person who doesn’t know us and has never seen the presentation. We used last year’s feedback to improve our team this year, but now that we don’t have that feedback it’ll be harder to know what to improve.
Which Chairman’s teams do you have the most respect for?
Personally, I have a lot of respect for Team 1114 Simbotics, Team 1538 The Holy Cows, and Team 2486 The CocoNuts.
Who’s your pick to win the next Championship Chairman’s Award?
I think Team 2486 The CocoNuts deserves the next Championship Chairman’s Award because they have truly made an inspiring difference in their community through FIRST, including working on Native American reservations and being able to overcome the challenge of living in a rural area. They’ve won the regional Chairman’s Award 6 times, so it’s pretty clear that they are a Chairman’s team.