HOLLY POND – Cullman County’s first VEX Robotics competition was held Saturday at Holly Pond High School (HPHS). Fifteen teams from across the state came to compete in the Star Struck State Qualifier, which was facilitated by members of the Jacksonville State University (JSU) Robotics Team. A representative of the Robotics Education and Competition Foundation (RECF) was present to oversee the tournament.
Teams from across the state arrived bright and early at HPHS to prepare and be checked for compliance with VEX completion rules and procedures, alongside an engineering book review. The competition kicked off at 9 a.m. with the seating round, which ended at noon. After lunch, final matches continued, teams of robots taken down one-by-one until one team emerged victorious and unscathed.
BrewTech from Brewbaker Technology Magnet School in Montgomery won all but the design award, which went to the Robotic Raptors of Meridianville Middle School from Huntsville.
JSU has been working to increase VEX participation across the state of Alabama for the last four years. Terry Marbut, department head of Applied Engineering at JSU, was present at the competition alongside members of the JSU Robotics Team to facilitate teams and assist when needed.
“When JSU decided to become involved in promoting robotics education, the intent was to spur interest in engineering careers. We looked at all of the platforms that are active in k-12 schools,” said Marbut. “We felt that the VEX program would allow schools to have a year-round robotics curriculum.”
The VEX program involves pre-made parts that teams must use to build robots. These robots then compete against each other to complete identical tasks. The design of the robot is up to the team members, so no two robots are exactly alike.
Marbut praised the Holly Pond team for their careful attention to detail and helpful volunteers. “Holly Pond did a great job; they were a wonderful event partner. They had every detail laid out before the event and made it very easy for JSU to come in and supply the support that we needed to.”
Although Holly Pond was knocked out of the competition in the quarter finals, the team learned how to make onsite repairs. “They haven’t seen the last of us,” stated team mentor Howard Cole.
The state VEX Robotics match will be held at JSU on the first Saturday in March.
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