This year, over 850 teams from 29 nations gathered to compete. Over 12,000 total teams from all over the world competed in more than 1,000 regional events, and the best of the best made it to VEX Worlds to find out which teams would be the new world champions. The event is
sponsored by a wide range of organizations who benefit
from improvements in STEM (Science, Technology,
Engineering, and Mathematics) education, including the
Northrop Grumman Foundation, the US Army, Chevron,
EMC Corporation, NASA, Microchip, Robotmatter, Texas
Instruments, Ford Motors, GE, and many others.
2015 is the first year VEX Worlds has been held in
Louisville. The event has already outgrown several other
venues, including Anaheim, CA; Orlando, FL; and Dallas,
TX. The Kentucky Exposition Center is well-suited for the
rapidly growing event and should make a good home for it
over the next several years.
One aspect the participants seemed to particularly
enjoy was the adjoining Kentucky Kingdom amusement
park. Nothing like an evening riding roller coasters to end a
weekend of robot competition! For old-timers like me,
downtown Louisville offers restaurants with a fine selection
of Kentucky Bourbons.
The VEX IQ Challenge program includes both an
autonomous and remote-controlled robot skills competition,
but the contest itself is just one part of a larger program to
enhance STEM education. The students — working together
in teams — learn a variety of skills that will help them in the
real world; skills ranging from planning and engineering to
research and oral presentation. For 2015, the VEX IQ
Challenge was a game called Highrise, played on a four
foot by eight foot rectangular field. An alliance of two
robots must work collaboratively to move and stack colored
cubes in a scoring zone.
The VEX Robotics Competition adds some complexity
over VEX IQ to challenge the older students. There are
similarities as well, such as the combination of autonomous
and remote-controlled robot skills competition. Like VEX IQ,
students are simultaneously learning valuable life skills that
will be useful in STEM fields and beyond.
For 2015, the VEX Robotics Competition game was
Skyrise. Played on a 12 foot by 12 foot field, a blue alliance
and red alliance face each other. Each alliance is composed
of two teams. The alliances must work together to
assemble scoring posts into skyrises and load them with
VEX U is the most complex of the events, and focuses
more on a demonstration of autonomous robot skills. The
university-level students must learn extensively about
sensors and real time control, and are allowed more
freedom in fabricating custom components for their robots.
The 2015 game for VEX U was the Skyrise game just
During the course of VEX Worlds, hundreds of
elimination matches take place leading up to the finals on
the last day of the event. Throughout the four days, there
are award presentations for other VEX related topics such
as the online challenges hosted by the Robotics Education &
Competition Foundation throughout the year. New
members are inducted into the STEM Hall of Fame during
VEX Worlds, as well.
VEX Worlds 2015 was held on April 15-18 at the Kentucky
Exposition Center in Louisville, KY. I was present to photograph the
events, and offer a few of my favorites here. VEX Worlds consists of
five world championship robotics events: the VEX IQ Challenge for
elementary and middle school students ages 8-14; the VEX
Robotics Competition for middle school and high school students
ages 11-18; and VEX U for University students age 18 and over.
VEX By R. Steven Rainwater
32 SERVO 06.2015