The largest educational competitive robotics program in the world starts its engines on April 15. The Vex Robotics World Championship, held in Louisville, Ky., brings teams of middle school, high school and college students together for competitive games that require robot design and programming. Teams of students – the top 850 out of 12,000 total this season – will be vying for victory at the championship.
While at the competition, students will compete in a variety of game types. Standard matches pit two alliances of two teams against one another, while other challenges rely on just one student or one robot. In the robot skills challenge, a driver negotiates their robot through a course or game, racing against the clock. Programming skills challenges rely the robot to use sensors to run autonomously, with the driver only involved in the programming stage.
The competition is further divided into elementary and middle school competitors, competing in the IQ Challenge, and middle school and high school students, participating in the Robotics Competition. The games set up for the Robotics Competition 2015 take place on a playing field called “Skyrise,” in which players grab and stack cubes around an arena. Its analog in the IQ Challenge is “Highrise,” which also requires the organization and stacking of cubes.
The teams spanning both age groups have come from 32 different countries.
“Students’ engineering knowledge and programming skills have been put to the test this year with the VEX IQ Challenge and VEX Robotics Competition games that require innovative solutions built to withstand heated competitions,” said Jason Morrella, president of the REC Foundation. “It’s a true testament to the program’s ability to give students the hands-on experience they need now to incite their passion and drive them to become our future technologists, inventors and problem-solvers.”
Vex Robotics and the REC Foundation also run other engineering programs and competitions, such as Vex U for college students aged 18 and older. Vex IQ robot kits, which can be customized with sensors or driven right out of the box, are among the company’s several products designed for STEM students.
The Vex World Championship is sponsored by the Robotics Education and Competition (REC) Foundation and the Northrop Grumman Foundation. It is held from April 15 to 18 and is open to the public.