VEX Robotics Club Making Their Way to The Top

Last year’s Robotics Club working diligently on their robot.

By Andrea Espino, Staff Writer

VEX Robotics club is a place where students can come together to grasp an understanding of robots and how to create them for local, statewide, and international competitions. The goals are consistent each year, and they include having students strive to learn from their mistakes, manage time wisely, and practice cooperation with their teammates to create a strong sense of community. Even during these times, VEX Club has persevered, learning how commitment and teamwork relate to their team’s success.

VEX club has weekly Zoom meetings to touch base on upcoming remote competitions. Students work together in self-directed small teams on what is an open-ended design challenge over an extended period of time. This year they have been working hard on robots and games to compete at this year’s game called Change-Up. The goal of the game is to acquire a higher score than the opposing alliance by placing balls in goals and connecting rows. It’s also important for their robot quality and practice to be better than all the others to move on in competition rankings.  The veteran students have been building their game at home so they can exhibit it in an upcoming competition.

This club is one of the best extracurricular learning experiences offered at Niles West. “It engages students on a different level than inside the classroom. That robot is the obvious part, but it’s much more than about the robot a team designs. Our teams will build several versions of their robot over the course of the season. We have to learn to work with and lead others to create workable solutions. Successful teams learn to overcome failure through innovation and persistence,” sponsor Mr. Robert Foster said.

This is a vital club for Niles West because it stimulates what it’s like to work on a project with different people who all bring different ideas to the club and can learn how to argue for the best solutions. Teams learn from the decisions they make, good or bad, but they are their decisions. “We’re thrown into a team, and we must work as a team to succeed. We learn self-independence, delegation, and how to deal with people, and these skills are pivotal to the real workplace,” junior Jordan Westphal said.

Some of the biggest accomplishments that this team has accomplished have been competing at the US Open Robotics Competition and the World Championship in 2019. They currently have two teams qualified to compete at the April State Championship. Although they weren’t certain that they were going to have a season this year, it all came together in the end, and they are all so thankful to have the opportunity to compete. This year they have competed remotely against teams from all over the U.S., along with Colombia and Puerto Rico. By competing remotely, it has allowed them to compete against harder teams earlier in the season which helped them improve for other competitions.

Being in this club has taught students about management and communication skills. “The most important thing I’ve learned is when to take a step back and reconsider my options. For example, if something goes terribly wrong at a competition, it’s important to recognize whether it’s an issue that can be fixed by a temporary solution or if a temporary solution would only create more issues in the long run. That sort of decision-making alongside other people is what has shaped me into a decisive person,” senior Alex Koeberl said.

This club meets on Zoom every Thursday, so if you’re interested, make sure to check it out! It’s a great opportunity for students interested in Engineering to get some hands-on experience! Visit this website to find more information about the club and contact information.