The number of student teams having access to extra-curricular Vex Robotics activities in Ohio has increased 464% since the 2012 school year. There now 320 elementary, middle and high school Vex robotic teams in Ohio this season. The average team has 3 students at the high school level and 4 students at the middle and elementary school levels. Students on these teams spend between 50 and 300 hours on the design, testing, programming and engineering notebook documentation of their robots. Teams have a new contest to compete with every year. Teams can participate in local events to earn qualify positions for one of the Ohio State Championships spots each winter hosted in Marion March 4th and 5th . 20 of the 320 Ohio teams with earn the right to participate at the World Championships representing Ohio next April in Louisville, Kentucky.
Last year there were more than 12,000 teams worldwide with approximately 750 teams that competed at the World Championships. Ohio had 19 teams compete at worlds and one of our coaches, Krista Matlack of North Union Middle School, was awarded the Vex Robotics Teacher of the Year award.
Students that compete in Vex robotics contests learn problem solving, programming in C language, mechanical terminology and design, team building, the engineering design cycle and presentation skills. Each team starts out with Vex Robotics kits filled with various aluminum and metal framing, gears, shafts, bearings and couplings. They build a frame to meet the contest criteria and also must design drive shafts with motors, pneumatics and gear trains that will enable them to be operated through autonomous programming and remote controllers to complete various tasks while teaming up randomly with other various teams throughout day long events. Students also interact with our judges at these events. Many of the judges either work in manufacturing, engineering or in the STEM field. These contests start with Vex IQ contests at the elementary level and progress into Vex EDR robots at the middle and high school level. Most team robots have invested about $1500 in Vex robotic kits that can be reused every year. Many schools also have Vex Robotics in their school as a part of the national Project Lead the Way engineering curriculum.
Why are robotics contests important?
Vex Robotic events and contests allow students to engage in manufacturing based training through fun projects while in various stages of their secondary education. With the need for 3.5 million manufacturing technicians nationwide over the next 10 years we need to expose students to manufacturing careers before they leave high school. The Manufacturing Gap is racing towards America like a runaway freight train and we need to equip our future workforce to make educated career choices. That is why companies and organizations like Yaskawa Robotics>, Honda Foundation grants, Consolidated Electric Co-op, SMEEF PRIME site, RAMTEC Ohio, The Ohio State University Marion, Depco llc, and Marion Technical College sponsor and support our events. They see that students that participate in these events are better equipped to obtain great paying jobs in the manufacturing field. Last season more than 20 students
earned scholarship though our 2015 robotic events.
How can you or your company get involved?
Every event in this country needs volunteers to judge, score, check in, inspects, and welcome participants. Most schools or clubs would appreciate technical, financial and mentoring support for their teams. Corporations and organizations can help by sponsoring summer camps such as we have in Ohio through our 9 RAMTEC sites. More than 330 students attended our Vex Robotics Summer camps last summer. For a list of events in your area you can go on the robotevents.com website.
RAMTEC Ohio Coordinator