OSU Helicopters (Petition Against Field House)

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ThatRoboGuy
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OSU Helicopters (Petition Against Field House)

Postby ThatRoboGuy » April 7th, 2014, 6:33 pm

If you have been to the Ohio State University to see the helicopters fly, you'll notice one thing right away. After a few flights, you'll watch one go into the air...and then it just won't come down. Maybe it hits a wire, or is trapped on a beam. You wait for them to get the balloon to fetch the helicopter...but the timers keep running.

This type of action leads to ridiculous flight times, such as five minutes (two and a half times longer than the best flight I've seen).
I have put together a petition that will, hopefully, lead to change. Why? Because the other thing I noticed is that nobody has tried to change where helicopters is flown.

So please, take a minute and sign the petition. Hopefully, we will be able to change where the event takes place, providing a fair environment to all competitors.

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1ARczTS ... 1593493738

Thank you.
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Re: OSU Helicopters (Petition Against Field House)

Postby chalker » April 7th, 2014, 7:15 pm

The State Director and Helicopters Event Supervisor are well aware of your concerns regarding this and actively in discussions about it. I don't think there's an explicit need to 'further petition' them at this time. However please keep in mind there are a LOT of other factors to take into account regarding moving the event. For example, while OSU has racquetball courts, they are inside a building (the RPAC) that is normally access controlled to only students (and will be well utilized during the tournament by normal student athletic activities). There is an inquiry out about the possibility of using it, but it's unlikely to be available due to this issue (and if it is available, would turn this event into a non-spectator one since nobody else but competitors would likely be allowed in the building). I also suspect the chances of turning off the A/C in the court will be close to zero.

Also please keep in mind this is 1 event out of ~50 that are being run, and there are still a lot of logistics and admin issues to be sorted out with all the other events. The more time spent on this issue, the more likely something else is going to slip through the cracks and result in competitors in another event having issues.

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Re: OSU Helicopters (Petition Against Field House)

Postby ThatRoboGuy » April 8th, 2014, 6:36 am

The State Director and Helicopters Event Supervisor are well aware of your concerns regarding this and actively in discussions about it. I don't think there's an explicit need to 'further petition' them at this time. However please keep in mind there are a LOT of other factors to take into account regarding moving the event. For example, while OSU has racquetball courts, they are inside a building (the RPAC) that is normally access controlled to only students (and will be well utilized during the tournament by normal student athletic activities). There is an inquiry out about the possibility of using it, but it's unlikely to be available due to this issue (and if it is available, would turn this event into a non-spectator one since nobody else but competitors would likely be allowed in the building). I also suspect the chances of turning off the A/C in the court will be close to zero.

Also please keep in mind this is 1 event out of ~50 that are being run, and there are still a lot of logistics and admin issues to be sorted out with all the other events. The more time spent on this issue, the more likely something else is going to slip through the cracks and result in competitors in another event having issues.
This issue has been ongoing for a long time now. Helicopters, when done by some Invitationals I have been to, was not a spectator event. Every time a door is opened in the competition, a wind current is created. Every time someone moves, every time someone breathes. At the Solon invitational, the door was never opened before a flight and during a flight. There was only allowed to be a few people in the room at a time to minimize the effect of outside currents on flight time.

When you move into a field house, with a forty five foot roof and many other events going on at the same time, and people are walking about everywhere? There's a lot of random chance put into it.
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Re: OSU Helicopters (Petition Against Field House)

Postby lovescience » April 8th, 2014, 7:02 am

The State Director and Helicopters Event Supervisor are well aware of your concerns regarding this and actively in discussions about it. I don't think there's an explicit need to 'further petition' them at this time. However please keep in mind there are a LOT of other factors to take into account regarding moving the event. For example, while OSU has racquetball courts, they are inside a building (the RPAC) that is normally access controlled to only students (and will be well utilized during the tournament by normal student athletic activities). There is an inquiry out about the possibility of using it, but it's unlikely to be available due to this issue (and if it is available, would turn this event into a non-spectator one since nobody else but competitors would likely be allowed in the building). I also suspect the chances of turning off the A/C in the court will be close to zero.

Also please keep in mind this is 1 event out of ~50 that are being run, and there are still a lot of logistics and admin issues to be sorted out with all the other events. The more time spent on this issue, the more likely something else is going to slip through the cracks and result in competitors in another event having issues.
This issue has been ongoing for a long time now. Helicopters, when done by some Invitationals I have been to, was not a spectator event. Every time a door is opened in the competition, a wind current is created. Every time someone moves, every time someone breathes. At the Solon invitational, the door was never opened before a flight and during a flight. There was only allowed to be a few people in the room at a time to minimize the effect of outside currents on flight time.

When you move into a field house, with a forty five foot roof and many other events going on at the same time, and people are walking about everywhere? There's a lot of random chance put into it.
It may be one event; however, in a state like ours, one event that a team may excel in, when left to chance, can literally mean that a team who rightfully deserves a top spot based on an entire years worth of hard work does not get it. OSU is a big place and even a classroom would allow for a more level playing field. It seems that the only teams who truly benefit from the game of chance that the Field House provides are the teams who do not typically excel in this event, as if they are one of the fortunate ones who gets stuck and the timer continues to run, may make up some points they would typically lose. While we all want the best for each team, it is not right that teams who have worked very hard, spent hours and hours designing and testing their designs to a. fall behind to a game of chance and/or b. have their devices broken beyond repair/or lost, because they are stuck in rafters. In a fair venue, a team who loses to a better design will do so with their head held high and respect for the other competitor. In the Field House a team who loses to a lesser design that happened to get lucky will leave very frustrated and upset - and rightfully so.

The rules clearly state the conditions that should be used during competition and it is ridiculous that in the biggest competition in the State, those rules are discarded. Surely, there are options that are better, even if it is time-consuming to locate them. As far as spectators are concerned, I think everyone would rather leave the competition assured that they did their best - win or lose - and not have seen the event, then to watch a very frustrating event of chance and leave feeling angry and disillusioned at the disregard for the spirit of the competition. I see your point that it is one event out of many, but for the teams who have spent hours and hours working to perfect their designs, it is the only event to them that matters and that should be respected.

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Re: OSU Helicopters (Petition Against Field House)

Postby chalker » April 8th, 2014, 9:36 am

The rules clearly state the conditions that should be used during competition and it is ridiculous that in the biggest competition in the State, those rules are discarded.
Please list exactly which 'rules are discarded'. I see RECOMMENDATIONS in the rules regarding preferences, but as far as I can tell no rules are being explicitly violated.

As an aside, has anyone looked at the venue for Helicopters at Nationals? It's virtually the same situation and will not be changing (despite hard lobbying for many years over the issue). Thus an argument could be made that by competing in a similar venue we are helping Ohio teams be prepared for Nationals.

However, as I said, we are looking into alternatives, but I can't promise anything.

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Re: OSU Helicopters (Petition Against Field House)

Postby chalker7 » April 8th, 2014, 10:05 am

So, as someone who competed in less than optimal flying venues as a student, actually flew many many times in the French Field house, has run the event in perfect spaces and terrible spaces and finally the actual person who wrote the rule at question, I think I might have a particularly informed opinion in this matter.

I am very sympathetic to your concerns. That said, there simply isn't such a thing as a perfect indoor flying venue. Blimp hangers have giant holes in them. The salt mine's walls act like velcro to any model that comes close and is extremely dark. West Baden has a giant chandelier/decoration in the middle. Racquetball courts cannot fit many people in them, if you have any sideways movement at all you hit the walls, limit spectatorship and often cannot permit climate control adjustments. Many of them are open at the top, actually giving weird wind patterns. Those are just concerns for indoor free flight competitions, as my brother said above there are a lot of other considerations taken into account when running a Science Olympiad tournament. Of course, we want the venue to be as fair as possible. And that is actually one of the primary venue selection principles. The problem is that there are many other factors that immediately remove other venues from candidacy. The first is budget. If we cannot pay for access to a certain space, we can't use it. The second is general efficiency. You can only get so many volunteers for an overall tournament. If you can reduce the volunteer workload by having one volunteer deliver lunches to a single place instead of 2 or 3 or 4, it is very helpful. Same thing with wayfinding, crowd control, etc. Finally, spectator friendliness. This cannot be overstated, a huge part of certain events is giving people something to watch. While you see the competitors viewpoints, tournament directors field questions and concerns from lots of different directions. One big one is from parents and relatives who want to see their kids compete but are not allowed to in the vast majority of events. Additionally, from the perspective of the overall health of SO, it i very favorable to have a "big" spectator event that can wow the crowds. The aviation events, for better or worse, often fulfill this role.

The rules do NOT clearly state the conditions for competition. They provide suggestions by saying that certain venues are preferable. If they said that certain conditions were mandatory, the event would not be run in the vast majority of tournaments due to the lack of venues. In my opinion, it is much preferable to run any event in less than ideal circumstances as compared to not run it at all.

All of this is to say that while the French Field House may not be ideal from a competitor's standpoint, it probably is the best available option for the State Tournament. The people running these events DO think about this stuff. A lot. They care. Suggesting otherwise is inappropriate and frankly, self-serving. These are big operations with a ton of factors, both visible and invisible. The concerns have been levied at a variety of levels, but coming up with a petition is not going to do much to further your cause. Again, I am sympathetic to your concerns, I personally fly ultralight indoor models all the time. Both now and when I was a Science Olympiad competitor, I wanted only to have the best venue for flying. Now that I have a little more perspective, I am trying to make sure we do as well as we can with what is available. I know the Ohio State director is doing the same thing and IS looking out for your concerns.

Focusing on this single topic will only sour your relationship with the organizers, probably upset you and turn you off from future competitions. I urge you not to do that, instead take a global approach. See if there is a way you can work within the constraints we all are given. Don't work yourself into a fit over things that might not be able to be changed.
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Re: OSU Helicopters (Petition Against Field House)

Postby ThatRoboGuy » April 8th, 2014, 10:15 am

As I see it, the racquetball courts have glass windows. The space looks like plenty to have one or two teams inside at a time with three timers. In fact, you could check people in outside of the racquetball courts, then have several flights going on (one in each court). In many competitions I have been to, especially Kenston, the flight rulings were insanely strict. The door was never opened during a flight, there were never more than two teams getting ready to fly, and there was only a bare minimum of people watching. Am going to create a Pro/Con list later today.
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Re: OSU Helicopters (Petition Against Field House)

Postby chalker7 » April 8th, 2014, 10:23 am

As I see it, the racquetball courts have glass windows. The space looks like plenty to have one or two teams inside at a time with three timers. In fact, you could check people in outside of the racquetball courts, then have several flights going on (one in each court). In many competitions I have been to, especially Kenston, the flight rulings were insanely strict. The door was never opened during a flight, there were never more than two teams getting ready to fly, and there was only a bare minimum of people watching. Am going to create a Pro/Con list later today.
You are assuming the racquetball courts are available and within the budget of the tournament. Neither of those are given and either one will (or already has) immediately taken them out as viable venues. I would strongly suggest you not spend too much time worrying about this. The concern has been levied, the state director is looking into it, but that said it is something that has been discussed a lot in the past.
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Re: OSU Helicopters (Petition Against Field House)

Postby zyzzyva980 » April 8th, 2014, 11:35 am

Some things the students behind this should probably keep in mind:

1) Problems with event locations affects each team equally. I would not expect teams to be designing their helicopters with an intent to get it stuck. I think the problem you should be trying to fix with the petition is the fact that the time keeps running. I have no experience at all in any of the flying events (I'm clueless) but it seems to me more unfair that the time keeps running when a helicopter gets stuck than the fact that a helicopter gets stuck. And helicopters are going to find a way to get stuck almost anywhere.

2) Science Olympiad doesn't shut down a college campus when it comes to town. You are not the only people there. Colleges still have to function, so it's not as if SO gets to pick where everything is. The college likely tells them which buildings they have available to use, and it already takes plenty of juggling behind the scenes to make it work.

3) If there was any state that I would trust to make everything as fair as possible to every team, it would be Ohio. You guys take for granted how efficiently and overall just how well Ohio runs its state tournament. If you had to compete at, say, a smaller state like Oklahoma or Iowa or even like Kansas, you'd probably be having fits. (Plug for Kansas: It is a great tournament by the way. They do a good job)

4) Nothing is ideal in real life. Science usually doesn't happen in a vacuum. Scientists have to deal with all sorts of outside forces and errors that affect their results, and they still put in the hard work and effort to overcome those obstacles. So the question is, in this science competition, are you going to be a scientist who works to have their device/experiment overcome those obstacles to the best of their abilities or are you just going to demand better conditions?
Last edited by zyzzyva980 on April 8th, 2014, 2:01 pm, edited 2 times in total.
Reason: Removed quoted post on author request
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Re: OSU Helicopters (Petition Against Field House)

Postby lovescience » April 9th, 2014, 10:28 am

Some things the students behind this should probably keep in mind:

1) Problems with event locations affects each team equally. I would not expect teams to be designing their helicopters with an intent to get it stuck. I think the problem you should be trying to fix with the petition is the fact that the time keeps running. I have no experience at all in any of the flying events (I'm clueless) but it seems to me more unfair that the time keeps running when a helicopter gets stuck than the fact that a helicopter gets stuck. And helicopters are going to find a way to get stuck almost anywhere.

2) Science Olympiad doesn't shut down a college campus when it comes to town. You are not the only people there. Colleges still have to function, so it's not as if SO gets to pick where everything is. The college likely tells them which buildings they have available to use, and it already takes plenty of juggling behind the scenes to make it work.

3) If there was any state that I would trust to make everything as fair as possible to every team, it would be Ohio. You guys take for granted how efficiently and overall just how well Ohio runs its state tournament. If you had to compete at, say, a smaller state like Oklahoma or Iowa or even like Kansas, you'd probably be having fits. (Plug for Kansas: It is a great tournament by the way. They do a good job)

I did not mean to quote this but couldn't figure about how to delete it. Sorry! I agree we need to let this thing play out how it will at this point.

4) Nothing is ideal in real life. Science usually doesn't happen in a vacuum. Scientists have to deal with all sorts of outside forces and errors that affect their results, and they still put in the hard work and effort to overcome those obstacles. So the question is, in this science competition, are you going to be a scientist who works to have their device/experiment overcome those obstacles to the best of their abilities or are you just going to demand better conditions?
Last edited by lovescience on April 9th, 2014, 5:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.


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