Student built robots to square off

December 5, 2011

Hastings, Neb. – Robots, not unlike like those in the 1950’s outer space movies, will be the feature attraction this Saturday for a unique competition at Central Community College’s Hastings Campus.

Student teams from several Nebraska and Colorado high schools and middle schools will be competing in the Second Annual Central Nebraska Middle and High School VEX Robotics Tournament. Competitions of this type have taken place since 2006 and have evolved into national and world competitions.

The Hastings competition is being hosted by Central Community College-Hastings Campus and Nebraska Public Power District. The event, to be held at the Dawson Building Gymnasium on the CCC-Hastings campus, begins with opening ceremonies at 11:15 a.m. Saturday followed by competition that will run until 5:30 p.m.

As of early this week, 24 teams had registered for this unique competition. Teams are entered from central Nebraska (Ravenna, Imperial, Stromsburg, Aurora, Clearwater), the Omaha area, and Colorado.

Student teams build and program robots to meet the game challenges that VEX Robotics create each year, with the game challenge this season being VEX Gateway. Students, with guidance from their teachers and mentors, aim to build the most innovative robots possible and work together to obtain the most points possible by scoring (or de-scoring) points using barrels, balls and gates.

VEX Gateway is played on a 12 foot by 12 foot square field with two alliances – one “red” and one “blue” – composed of two teams each, competing in matches consisting of a twenty-second autonomous period followed by two minutes of driver-controlled play. The object of the game is to attain a higher score than an opponent alliance by scoring barrels and balls in goals, earning bonus points and doubling or negating goals.

The top teams in the competition will qualify for the U.S. National VEX Robotics Championship to be held in Omaha in March 2012, and for the VEX Robotics World Competition to be held in Anaheim, Calif., in April of 2012. For the Hastings competition, awards will be given to teams for various categories that include the tournament champion, tournament finalist, and special awards for excellence, sportsmanship, and design.

“In addition to just having a great time and building amazing robots, thiis program helps develop students learn engineering, technical and programming skills needed in of building a robot, plus develop teamwork skills, leadership and sportsmanship,” explained NPPD Outreach Programs Specialist Kim Liebig.

NPPD and CCC-Hastings Campus have joined together to harness the power of competitive robotics to engage students and promote interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education to ensure a skilled workforce for Nebraska.