Vaughn College Robotics Team #1 in The World at Vex
Time, dedication and innovation was the perfect combination for Vaughn College’s Aeronautics and Technology Robotics Team in April as they were named the World Champions at the record-setting 2016 VEX Worlds Robotics Competition in Louisville, Kentucky.
The team of 12 students, six seniors and six freshmen, seized the top spot, beating Mexico (among 60 other college teams) in this season’s challenge named: “Nothing but Net.”
“We began designing the two robots last summer in Vaughn’s robotics lab,” said Alex Uquillas, a mechatronic engineering major who recently graduated in May. “Our team was determined to win this year’s competition since we came so close to winning in past years.” Alex said his team built a practice field in the lab and worked through their school breaks and almost every weekend in designing the winning robots and perfecting their tactical techniques. Along the way, the team competed in qualifying matches to secure a spot in the world championship competition.
Mimicking the sport of basketball, the game challenged the teams to design robots that could shoot balls into a net at lightning speeds. The team whose robots scored the most points would be declared the winner. “Our robots were timed at shooting four balls every second,” Alex explained, “and were designed to accurately hit the net, even at long distances.” He said the robots also applied outstanding autonomous routines, where they moved solely through the use of various sensors and control algorithms. “It was from this application that we learned automation and control processes that are used in today’s competitive tech industry,” Alex said.
One of the highlights and challenges of the competition was to earn extra points at the end of the match if one of the team’s robots could lift the other robot. “It was great to see how our larger robot met the challenge and lifted our smaller robot,” Alex said proudly. In addition to following the strict competition guidelines, the team was also required to keep a notebook and log details about their progress along the way. The team’s notebook earned them the distinguished Design Award for their original design. Their innovative thinking was recognized with an additional Innovation Award that acknowledged the speed and accuracy of how many balls were released.
Adding to the excitement of the event, the Guinness World Records recognized The 2016 VEX Robotics Competition as the largest robotics event to date, with a record-setting number of 1,075 elementary, middle, high school and college teams competing.
“This is an incredible victory for our team,” said Dr. Sharon B. DeVivo, president of Vaughn College. “Students apply mechanical and programming skills in the development of these robots, actively utilizing theories they acquire in the classroom. This experience is exactly what employers are seeking across a variety of industries where design, programming and troubleshooting are critical for the next generation of automation.”