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USU Students Dominate in VEX Robotics Competition

Thursday, Apr. 17, 2014

USU students at Robotics competition

Members of the winning robotics team hold a robotics scrimmage with members of the Design Academy.

Utah State University students crushed competitors in a VEX Robotics Competition taking several winning titles, including tournament champions, at the 2014 International Technology and Engineering Educators Association conference in Orlando, Fla.

With six competing members, the USU VEX Robotics Team split into two teams of three for the event. Each team constructed its own robot to compete. The USU-Blue team took the excellence award along with the programming skills and robotics skills awards. Together the Blue and Red teams joined in a single alliance and won tournament champions.  In addition, four of the students entered the academic quiz bowl challenge and took third place.

“Basically, in the area of robotics we swept everything,” said applied sciences, technology and education associate professor and faculty advisor Gary Stewardson.

According to Stewardson, a competition such as this one is set up similar to a sporting event. There is a playing field for the robots to compete on and a given objective that must be completed. Each year, the challenges and obstacles are changed.

“You’re trying to achieve an objective and do it more efficiently than everybody else,” said team member and technology and engineering education major Frank Sweet. “It’s not as simple as everyone thinks. It’s not just driving a robot, it’s picking up balls and throwing them and all of these other objectives we follow.”

While the USU VEX Robotics Team is housed in the School of Applied Sciences, Technology and Education under the technology and engineering education emphasis, the team welcomes students in any major.

Of the team’s six participants, only two, Sweet and Cory Ortiz are TEE majors. The other four, Michael Simons, Tyler Stewardson, Daniel Gohier and Cody Salyer, belong to other majors, including business, English, computer science and mechanical engineering.

Gohier noted that his participation in the USU VEX Robotics Team has benefitted his education in a number of ways.

“For one example, you get to see a real world application,” he said. “You start to see things differently once you see them in the real world. … It’s also just a good outlet to have something to do besides homework.”

The college team also mentors a community team of middle school and high school students called the Design Academy. This group hosts four teams with four robots. Two of those robots qualified for the 2014 VEX Robotics World Championship by being ranked 16th in the world in programming skills and 30th in the world in driving skills among 9,000 robots worldwide.

Related links:

USU School of Applied Sciences, Technology and Education

USU College of Agriculture and Applied Sciences

Contact: Gary Stewardson, 435-797-1802 ,

Contact: Frank Sweet,

Writer: Allie Jeppson Jurkatis, 435-797-7406,

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