Vex Robotics Season Experience from a student

(Forward: This blog is by II4T summer intern, Jeremy H., who shares his personal VEX experience from the 2021-22 season.)

One more match. A single match decides which two teams qualify for the VEX Robotics World Championships in Dallas, Texas. It was the final match of the championship finals: the room was ready. My team, 25455Y, had allied with North Clarion High School’s team- 79163F.  We were tied 1-1 in a best of three match against an alliance of Franklin teams 814F and 814H. We had been preparing for this competition and this very match for months, it all came down to this. The atmosphere was quiet, the pressure was on, but we stood prepared. The following two minutes of hair-raising and succinct gameplay resulted in a game field too close for judges to score quickly. Out of all our stressful preparation in the past 5 months- it was nothing compared to the climax of tension- as the scorekeepers tallied up the match. After what felt like millennia, they finally announced, “The winning alliance is… teams 25455Y and 79163F.” We had won, and it was all finally over as the room exploded with cheers. 

In VEX Robotics competitions, teams are presented with a challenge, or game, that they will need to design and assemble a robot to perform in using VEX robotics kits and parts. For example, the high school level of VEX implemented a game called Tipping Point where teams needed to manipulate different objects, including mobile goals and rings, to score points. A VEX team can consist of 3-12 students responsible for building and programming a robot, writing an engineering notebook to record their progress, and partake in a team interview during competitions. As teams learn more and more about the engineering design process, they begin to learn how to perform better in competitions, resulting in further inspiration to continue with the program and develop more knowledge in STEM. A senior from Cranberry Area High School, Riley Fry says, “Over the years we’ve definitely improved on our building quality and structural integrity. More importantly though, we’ve increased upon our build efficiency, allowing us to develop more mechanical systems and thus learning more design principles. With experience and learning through our mistakes, we’ve improved overall as a team.” VEX presents excellent opportunities both in education and recreation for students of all ages. Robotics is a leading precursor to STEM occupations and advancement in the future of students across the country. With organizations like VEX, students are capable of learning the engineering design process from a young age, giving them the opportunity to be at the forefront of future industry across the world.

Nearly 10% of careers in the United States involve some form of STEM, or Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics; and that number is rising quickly. According to the U.S. bureau of labor statistics, students should begin thinking about or even deciding a projected career path early in high school. In 1980, there were an estimated 4,000 industrial robots used. This number jumped to around 1,600,000 in 2015, and exploded to around 3,000,000 actively used today. In any industry rising this quickly, new interest and employees are essential. In the past decade, robotics as a high school program has become more readily available to schools all across the country, resulting in both big city schools and rural schools investing in some of the many robotics organizations. One great example of these is VEX Robotics.

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