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USU Hosts World-Qualifying Robotics Competition

Thursday, Jan. 31, 2013

student participants in VEX Robotics competition

The 2013 Utah and Mountain Region VEX Robotics Championship will be held at Utah State University Saturday, Feb. 2. The event is open to the public and all are invited.

The 2013 Utah and Mountain Region VEX Robotics Championship will be held at Utah State University Saturday, Feb. 2.

VEX Robotics competitions are robotic design tournaments for children between sixth and twelfth grade. Student teams, with guidance from teachers and mentors, design and create a multi-functioning robot to compete in sport-like events.

The competition will be held in the Sunburst Lounge on the second floor of the Taggart Student Center on the USU campus. The event is open to the public. Qualifying matches will begin at 10:30 a.m. and the championship matches will begin at 4:30 p.m.

The Utah and Mountain Region VEX Robotics Championship serves as a world-qualifying competition in which 24 to 30 teams from the Rocky Mountain region were invited to compete. Three teams from the competition will qualify for the 2013 Vex Robotics World Championship held in Anaheim, Calif.

Gary Stewardson, associate professor in the College of Agriculture and VEX Robotics promoter for secondary school curricula in the state of Utah, said VEX Robotics Competitions gets kids excited about science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

“The competition has the excitement of a sporting event with the challenge of an engineering design activity,” he said. “Winning teams have the opportunity to interact with other students interested in robotics from all over the world.” 

In the 2012-13 season, there are more than 7,000 VEX robotic teams from more than 20 countries competing in close to 400 competitions. Last year in programming skills, six of the top 30 teams in the world were from Utah.

“We are trying to duplicate Utah’s overall achievement again this year,” said Stewardson.

To qualify for the Utah and Mountain Region VEX Robotics Championship, teams gained points through their performance in five previous regional competitions that were held throughout Utah and Idaho. Points were awarded according to how many teams competed, how well teams placed, programming skills and robot skills. After each competition, teams could make alterations and improve their robots. This year, between 120 and 140 students are expected to compete in the championship competition at USU.

Each year, VEX Robotics designs a new event for its competition. Game rules change with new events, but it is always held on a 12-by-12 field. The game this year is called Sack Attack.

Two alliances made of two teams each compete in matches consisting of a 15-second period where robots run autonomously based on student programming, followed by 1 minute and 45 seconds of a driver-controlled period. The object of the game is to attain a higher score than your opponent alliance by scoring beanbag sacks in various level goals.

 “If anyone is interested in seeing a robotic competition, held in a sports atmosphere and that supports student growth, they should come see the Utah and Mountain Region VEX Robotics Championship,” Stewardson said. “It will be a world-class event.”

Contact: Gary Stewardson, associate professor, technology and engineering education, School of Applied Sciences, Technology and Education, 435-797-1802,

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