VEX Robotics Makes it to World Championship

May 17, 2023

The VEX Robotics Club made a trip down to the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center in Dallas, Texas on April 25 to compete in the World Championship. Among 800 teams in attendance, the club’s teams achieved rankings of 34th and 80th. The club qualified for Worlds after winning the highest skill scores in the state of Illinois by winning State.

VEX Robotics is a competitive-academic club that’s designed for students who are interested in stepping into the world of science, by learning how to program and code robots. It’s also well-suited for students who are considering a career in engineering, as it allows them to acquire comparable practical skills and leadership experience in a small team setting.

“Going into the VEX world venue in Texas was very overwhelming in the beginning. We were meeting different teams from across the world who have worked as hard as we have and fought for their place to be on the world stage. Throughout the competition, we had to work against luck and time accommodating different circumstances and mistakes and trying our best to show that we were just as good as these other teams and we had also worked really hard to get there,” junior Kike Raheem said.

At Worlds, there was a strong presence from international teams from all around the world. However, they did not have any specific competitors in mind. They were only competing against themselves, striving to surpass their previous rankings in world competitions.

“Our biggest competitors are ourselves. It’s really a test if we can come up with the best idea and are we gonna be putting in the energy to do better,” sponsor Robert Foster said.

Foster considers the competitive nature to be a good learning experience that allows there to be pride in the younger team’s accomplishments, surpassing previous years’ performances of other younger teams. He is especially proud of the team, which mostly consists of sophomores, where typically only senior teams make it. He hopes the new students will have a chance to return next year and challenge themselves even further.

The team is also a walk-on for students taking any of the engineering or computer science courses. While the team initially started with over 40 members, it has since thinned down to only the eight students who had qualified for the World Championship. The club is also split into two even smaller teams, which are placed in different divisions based on past performances.

To be able to compete at the World Championship, students have been preparing and building robots since the beginning of the school year. In preparation over the course of the season, each team builds at least five robots in order to perfect their design. This is a tedious process as each robot takes around two months to build and the programming portion takes up another several weeks to complete. Once the season begins in September, the team dedicates themselves to building robots twice a week for three hours at school, while continuing to gather at each other’s homes on weekends.

“Our team spent days at each other’s houses building and perfecting the robot. My team is most proud of how far we’ve come in our design. We went through about four or five prototypes before we settled on the one we took to the World competition. We put in a lot of time and effort and it was rewarding to see it pay off and get somewhere this year,” junior Eleena Kopic said.

Being part of the team also requires members to develop skills such as independence, management and communication, which can all be directly applied in an engineering workplace. Since the club is highly-student led, sponsors Foster and Timothy Sullivan mostly serve as mentors. The members are encouraged to come together as a team in order to troubleshoot any difficulties they may face.

“I’ve seen different accomplishments with different teams. Certain teams I’ve seen their building improve and most teams are working better together as a cohesive unit and problem-solving skills which are instrumental in creating a successful club environment,” Sullivan said.

Niles West congratulates VEX Robotics for their accomplishments, and hopes to see them attending the World Competition again next year!

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