Thursday Poll: what to do with Design Comp?

Design Comp OpinionsAh, design comp.  How many competitions can you think of that some people respond to by wearing suits while others … well … do not make the same effort to make a good impression.

The list of buggies entering design comp hasn’t been announced by Sweepstakes yet this year, but I hope that it will be long and that it will include all of the exciting new buggies and those we expect to challenge for the win this year.  I fear, however, that it will be similar to last year — a competition that less than half of the field chose to enter.

Of course, this topic has already been covered at length on this site so I won’t rehash the pro and con arguments, but feel free to review

Both of those discussions were fairly constructive and I think it was useful to have all of those opinions aired publicly, but true to the alumni tradition it was mostly just talk with no steps towards doing anything.  It’s too late to do anything this year either, but for this week’s poll I want to know which design comp fix is the most popular among the crowd.

Click through to vote or see the results

What would you change about design comp to make it better and get more teams entering? (select up to 3)

  • Include ex-safety-chair judges - they understand the criteria and the secrecy (22%, 32 Votes)
  • Add BAA financed cash prizes - fancy designs aren't cheap you know (18%, 26 Votes)
  • Make it mandatory - the hold outs will get over it eventually, and then it will be fun (17%, 25 Votes)
  • Include free beer at some point in the process - that fixes everything (16%, 24 Votes)
  • Make the judging quantitative - measure weight, visibility, etc (9%, 13 Votes)
  • Move it to the fall and have teams present proposals not finished products (5%, 8 Votes)
  • Introduce term limits - win 3 years in a row and you have to take a year off (4%, 6 Votes)
  • Make the trophy bigger - that's what it's about right? (4%, 6 Votes)
  • Have judges sign NDAs - and have teams hire lawyers to enforce them (3%, 4 Votes)
  • Prohibit fancy clothes - this way the laundy-phobic won't be at a disadvantage (3%, 4 Votes)

Total Voters: 67

29 thoughts on “Thursday Poll: what to do with Design Comp?”

  • You forgot one: I don’t want to make it “better.” Just leave it the way it is and let me sleep by my buggy.

  • Even in a world of “better” design comps, you could still sleep next to your buggy instead if you wanted. The hope is that if it got “better” enough, you just might actually want to participate.

  • cancel the whole competition portion and make display mandatory for promoting interest, and because it is nice to be able to see the buggies up close and unshrouded.

  • There’s nothing wrong with letting interested teams have a meaningless side competition before raceday.

  • I wanted to pick like 6 choices.
    There’s so much wrong with design comp.

    The judges have basically no idea what they’re judging, no one “important” enters but they’re pussies about “secrecy”, Fringe seems to have the “Charm” aspect down, the win is almost meaningless now, etc. blah blah

    Make it mandatory. Have a corporate sponsored prize, with a judge from their mechE dept or something. Have a safety chair and a Buggy Alum from differing organizations on the panel. Make a dress code, Don’t allow pamphlets or other business, weigh the buggies, measure stuff, get a durometer for wheels, a design person for paint/shape, a former driver for interior comfort and steering ease…..

    put somewhere other than the gym, maybe outside somewhere more visible… offer free food…

    There’s any number of things that could make it better. Please, just do SOMETHING….

  • Might be worthwhile to start a thread on ‘what should design comp judge?’. I honestly can’t recall what the criteria is.

  • Don’t apply your arbitrary “art contest” criteria to my racing machine. The clock is the only judge I listen to. NASCAR teams don’t get awards for having the prettiest cars, just the ones that finish first.

  • The animosity towards design comp reminds me of the animosity towards gay marriage sometimes. Being in favor of A does not necessitate being against B. NASCAR and buggy races are judged by the clock. This does not preclude, nor should it be threatened by, a different contest that rewards other things.

  • Thank you for the link Sam. Is each category worth the same amount of points or something?

    I still stand by my thought that Design should be a ‘fun’ event. I dunno about other folks but I always liked it when teams brought out random old buggies. Stuff like that should be encouraged, I’d think, and just get rid of all the ‘tech’ things.

  • My response was clearly an over the top reaction to the idea that certain aspects of design should be “mandatory.”

    As a young mechanic (FOAD for the initiated) I was told that we used those wood blocks as our wheels like a snub to the idea that someone would judge the design of our wheels. I like the idea of the durometer for the wheels, because, you know, that’s THE indicator of great wheels.

    I like the idea that all the buggies are out in one place, but forcing subjective judging upon teams that merely want to race is, in my opinion, against the spirit of the sweepstakes.

  • Kill two birds with one stone. Let each team entered in design comp send a member to witness the judging. That way there’s no question of fairness from the judges. If other teams learn any secrets out of it, and are able to use them, that’ll just make next year’s real race tighter, which is also good.

    If a team is worried about losing its secrets, it doesn’t have to enter, but also doesn’t get to learn anything.

    Worried about a team that enters design comp to look at everyone else’s buggies but says nothing about their own? Make teams present in order of their best race placement last year, and teams only get to witness the presentation after their own. I.e: the worst team sees everyone’s and the best team sees nobody else’s (maybe let them see the 2nd place one).

  • Every buggy not entered in the competition must be displayed with wheels on and all removable hatches, shells, and windshields off. Ta-dah!

  • The choices sucked as they suggested a ‘ gotta make it better’ agenda. Not very balanced.

    how about:
    a keep it the way it is
    b include free-roll time or overall finish in results
    c Kill it
    d make it fun
    e Reschedule it for between Friday and Saturday for a short period of time ( and thus have fresh freeroll times to include)
    I think having a bid cookout/ party would a great way to spice up. The ideal time of course would be Thursday night but this gets int he way of buggy prep for friday. Thus, a short window after prelims on friday would be a good move if combined with beer and bbq.

    The whole ‘make it mandatory’ thing is silly. The current rule: you must bring your fleet and display them for all to see is good enough. Let those who want to compete, compete. I agree with Andy, the clock is a damn fine judge.

    As for having baa money go to the winners, I would think that are many better ways to spend that cash. (unless you want to award cash prizes to winners from the past starting with my years)

  • In all seriousness, I think that having a competition that nobody tries to win, cares about, or enjoys is a waste of time. If people hate design comp (and I’ve usually liked it, but it’s more fun when you’re not personally competing the next day), well, don’t have it. Life’s too short.

    I think it’s worthwhile to have an award that de-emphasizes pushing, but nothing other than race times actually measures if a buggy was designed well for the race. Although the hill 2 pusher has a tremendous effect on freeroll, a freeroll award to complement King of the Hill might give the mechanics on teams with so-so pushing something to root for.

  • One thing that would be nice to see is for each entering org to be eligible for a trophy. The rules state that in order to receive a trophy, the buggy has to finish in the top 3rd in either Men’s or Women’s. I guess the assumption is that if it doesn’t make the top 3rd, than the design isn’t very good, but that’s still a major deterrent from entering (especially if you know you’ve got no shot at the top 3rd, like we have in the past). Why should I bother entering a competition that I’m not even eligible to win?

  • Treat it as a recruiting event. This is basically a half day long, buggy-only activities fair which half the campus walks by. Throw in some free food and you have the best recruiting event ever.

  • If you know you can’t place your best buggy in the top third, you clearly don’t have any problem with entering a contest you know you can’t win.

    However, the criteria for what is best for a team that isn’t going to make finals is not necessarily the same as what is best for a team that’s in a position to win. I.e: if your team is one of those that keeps dropping in & out of buggy every few years, a design that’s cheap, easy to build and reliable might be “better” for you than the fanciest, lightest, one. I don’t think the current design judging takes this into account. A Hyundai isn’t going to beat a Ferrari at anything, but they both aren’t trying to solve the same problem.

    The trouble with a freeroll-only competition is that wheels are an even bigger part of it. And doing well there involves either cash, which bottom-half teams don’t have buckets of, or a relationship with a manufacturer, which is hard to develop when it’s “please help us go from 12th to 11th” and not “please help us go from 2nd to 1st”.

  • “If you know you can’t place your best buggy in the top third, you clearly don’t have any problem with entering a contest you know you can’t win.”

    I gotta disagree with you there Shafeeq. It turns out that there’s a lot of reasons to enter a buggy into raceday, regardless of whether or not you can actually take 1st place. For an organization like mine (AEPi), it’s not about winning. It’s about having fun and being part of the buggy experience. With that said, we take a lot of pride in the fact that we’ve won buggy trophies for 3 straight years (2 Chairman’s Choice, 1 Spirit of Buggy).

    With Design Comp, there’s no other trophies…You either win design comp. (Top 3), or you don’t. Also, there’s nothing fun about it. We have done design comp. before, knowing that we can’t win anything, and it’s certainly not something that would be a fun story to tell my kids.

    We do buggy for the enjoyment factor. Yes, we think we’re becoming more competitive. But we still do it because we enjoy it. There’s nothing enjoyable about design comp. So if I can’t win, why bother?

  • Wait. Shafeeq, are you saying that if we compare two strong, relatively light (15-30lb) buggies, each with a small frontal area and lacking any massive design flaws, the difference in their performance is going to be almost entirely due to the wheels that they’re rolling on? But that makes Design comp even more of a joke since, from what I understand, the scoring doesn’t weigh wheel tech very heavily at all! 😉

    New idea: Include some polymer chemists on the Design judge team (maybe a tubular tire guy so that Spirit has someone to talk to, agh). Change scoring to more accurately represent what is needed for a fast freeroll, so 90% of your score should be based on your presentation of how you chose your formulation, what fabrication method you used, etc., etc..

    I’m even somewhat serious about the chemist judges.

  • to Shafeeq’s point, a buggy that rolls well for 15 years might be the best design for a small self-funded org.

  • History lesson: design was ‘mandatory” before ~86 or 87. You only had to show up with 1 buggy, and the others could stay home. Everyone had to present and those who didn’t want to play just stood in front of the judges and said nothing. This was clearly absurd. The rules were changed to allow people to see all the buggys and not waste the judges time with the orgs that did not want to play the game. the top 1/3 requirement was also added to prevent some shitty judging results (a buggy that had no hope in the race and would be hard to view as a good design ( a 4 wheeler in the era of 3 wheeled buggies) winning in the mid 80s, yep I am talking about you Kappa Sig). Mandatory = pissed off judges, pissed off orgs and doesn’t improve the competition.

  • [quote] We do buggy for the enjoyment factor. Yes, we think we’re becoming more competitive. But we still do it because we enjoy it. There’s nothing enjoyable about design comp. So if I can’t win, why bother? [/quote]

    I couldn’t agree more. When I was chairman, we didn’t enjoy design comp, so we didn’t enter. We also didn’t think we could win with matte black paint and that’s all we had.

  • I hear a lot of whining from the organizations that don’t even participate in design competition, and only good things from the teams that do.

    I think the abstainers need to get over themselves and accept that buggy design is to be celebrated. No one cares that a ferrari can’t beat a corvetter in a quarter mile, it’s a fucking ferrari. That’s what we’re judging.. Yes Pika/SDC may be the fastest on the roll, but who has the nicest buggy? Mechanics work too hard to get nothing (if they don’t place)

  • Well, my only happy memory from Design Comp is not winning anything, but watching the next morning as my buggy blew away the Design winner in a head-to-head race.

    My point was that in a healthy competition, you get some benefit out of it other than just the trophy that makes it worthwhile even if you don’t win. The most valuable benefit I can think of would be getting an expert critique of your design that would give you a direction on what to work on improving. Trouble is, the only experts are all alums of other teams.

  • theJ,

    So you’re saying that the teams that like design comp participate in it and those that don’t, don’t. That sounds like the ideal situation to me, no changes necessary.

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