A Comprehensive Guide to VEX Robotics

In every industry of the world, there’s that one guy that does what it’s doing for the sake of humanity and to truly help people out. We’re no experts, but in from our experience, we can say that VEX Robotics in a corporation that’s really motivated to help out the young minds of our generation sharpen their skills and actually employ robotics as a job. VEX Robotics has a ton of different initiatives and programs to help out teenagers which also includes their very own robotics competition. So, if you want to know more about this fantastic company and all the good work they’re doing for the community, then this article is just the place for you to be. Let’s get right to it.

What are VEX Robotics?

By definition, VEX Robotics is a manufacturer of robotic components, but if we were able to chime in and offer our own introduction, we’d call them a provider of robotic components to education institutions. The reason why VEX Robotics is so highly regarded in the world of educational robotics is because the kits from VEX are highly versatile and can work as the perfect tool to both teach and learn. So, what we’re saying is that it doesn’t matter whether you’re a robotics teacher or mentor looking to really get their hands dirty and teach their kids the ins and outs of robotics, or if you’re a student looking to learn the ropes early, VEX Robotic Kits are what you need to get.

Why VEX?

VEX does things a little differently than most robotics manufacturers out there. They feel that the world is in great need of talented minds, innovative leaders and problems solving experts. And, they really think that their product, when given to the right people, could make a huge difference. They’ve been providing quality robotic components to schools, universities and robotics teams for years now. And, they’re all doing this because they firmly believe in STEM and how robotics is tending to all four aspects of STEM learning. VEX wants to teach students how fun and efficient STEM can actually be instead of the boring practice it is deemed to be.

VEX Robotics isn’t just an integral part of learning and developing your skill of robotics. It’s also a great part of the practical world of robotics including some of the top robotics competitions held around the world including names like FIRST Robotics Competitions. Overall, VEX Robotics has served over a million students globally.

VEX Robotics Competitions

There are four main VEX Robotics Competitions completely owned and managed by VEX itself. Details along with a few rules and regulations of each competition are given below.

VEX EDR

VEX EDR is a robotics competition meant for middle and high school students between the grades of 6-12. In this competition, only aluminum and steel parts are used in the robots along with the VEX EDR Design System. The competition also allows the usage of several programming languages but most participants use VEX’s own RobotC for their coding needs.

EDR works differently than most robotic competitions. Instead of having one team go against another, VEX tries to teach it’s participants teamwork in a different way. VEX actually makes each step of the competition a 2 v 2 where a group of two random teams goes up against a another group of two random teams. This allows the competitors to learn the very valuable skill of collaboration by working together with a team that they might have though of as their rivals.

Each year VEX EDR follows a certain theme or game. This year, the theme was a game called Turning Point. For 2020, the theme is Tower Takedown. In this game, the objective is to get a higher score by stacking cubes in goals and placing them in towers. There are several alliance towers, neutral towers, green cubes, purple cubes, orange cubes and goals. The whole game is pretty complicated with dozens of rules, so we’re not going to bore you with the details right now.

VEX U

The VEX U is the variant that allows college and university level students to participant and test their skills against the best of the best. The rules are pretty similar to EDR, but when it comes to technicalities, U Participants have a lot more tools at their disposal. Apart from that, the major difference is that EDR just requires competitors to solve a problem. But in U, there are specific points awarded for efficiency and cost-effective solutions. So, if two robots are solving the same problem, but one is using cheaper components than the other, than this robot will take the cake.

VEX U also has several other things unlike the EDR. First off, VEX U allows the competitors to make much bigger robots than EDR. In EDR, robots are restricted to a size of 18” cubes, while in this competition, you’re able to make up to 24” cubes. Secondly, U isn’t restricted to 2 v 2 competitions. Like EDR, U also has different themed games every year and it mostly depends on the type of game being played. For instance, in the 2016-2017 period, the themed game was Starstruck which stepped away from the usual formal and changed to a 1 v 1 competition.

VEX IQ

VEX IQ is the most basic of the three robotics competitions organized by VEX. This competition is meant for elementary and high school students. The materials allowed are just VEX IQ Robotics Set that use plastic pieces to construct a robot. Programming is done through graphical compilers which was very easy to use and execute. The main focus of this competition isn’t just robotics, it’s to nurture the STEM skills of the young competitors and give them a hands-on experience of real world robotics. There are two different challenges in VEX IQ. The first is Robot Skills, where one robot will attempt to perform a task. The second is the Teamwork Challenge where two robots will work in collaboration to perform the same task. Just like the rest of the competitions, VEX IQ also has a themed-game that changes every year. The current game for the 2020 season is Squared Away. The game works somewhat similar to a pool table. There are cubes, corner goals and platforms. The robots could either be driven or programmed to automatically place the thirty-five balls in these cubes, goals and platforms. You get 2 points for scoring in a cube, 10 for a corner goal, 20 for a platform. Participants have to score points in both the Robot Skills as well as the Teamwork Challenge.

VEX Robotics World Championships

The above three competition; IQ, U and EDR are hosted dozens of times all over the world at a regional level. However, once all the winners have been declared from the worldwide competitions, they’re all gathered to one spot for one final VEX Robotics World Championship to determine the best minds in the field of robotics. The first VEX Robotics World Championship was held in 2008 in Los Angeles, California. However, this event has settled in Kentucky since 2014. The 2020 variant will be held in Louisville, Kentucky. The regular event is hosted in the Kentucky Exposition Center while the opening ceremony as well as the finals are organized in the Freedom Hall.

The VEX Robotics World Championship starts off with the Parade of Nations that has thousands of students from over thirty countries. The participants aren’t bounded by any dress code. You could be R2D2 or even Iron Man, your choice.

Closing Thoughts

VEX is truly a helpful way for children to learn about robotics and to find interest in a find that could take their careers to unimaginable places. So, if you’re one of the people that wants their kids to be interested in this vast and educational field, get them VEX Robotic kits. Sure, they’re a bit expensive than most people would care to spend on a hobby. But, don’t consider it an expense, consider it an investment to set kids on a beneficial career path. VEX Robotics is a company struggling to make the lives of kids easier by giving them the resources and components they need to make robotics fun and easy to understand. If you have a kid that wants to learn more about robotics and possibly pursue a career in this industry, VEX Robotics can give them the tools they need at their disposal.

Leave a Comment