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  • Writer's pictureThis Is Rutherford

Vex Robotics World Championship

Updated: May 15, 2019

By Jennifer Ersalesi and Bill Helphingstine

From left to right: Ben Brnic, Neel Tripathi, Bill Helphingstine, Sankalp Tripathi, Neil Rana, Ansh Jodhani, Adian Allshouse, Griffin King, and Vedic Patel

The Union Middle School Robotics Team recently spent time in Louisville, KY for the 2019 VEX Robotics World Championships. During the Competition held on April 30th, the Robotics Education and Competition (REC) Foundation recognized the VEX IQ Challenge (VIQC) Elementary and Middle School World Champions. Approximately, 15,000 students participated in the competition representing three dozen countries. There were over 30,000 people in attendance at the Championship from 46 countries. This is Rutherford interviewed Mr. Bill Helphingstine, who is the leader and coordinator the UMS Robotics team.

TIR: This competition is a very exciting event for you and your students. Most of the school year is spent preparing for this event. How many middle school teams participated in the Championship? What was your team’s rank?

Bill Helphingstine: There were 412 middle school teams. Our team ranked 49th in the world.

2019 Sportsmanship Award

TIR: Did the UMS Robotics team earn any special awards?

BH: Our team won the “Sportsmanship Award”, which is a “Judges Award” given to only 5 of the 412 middle school teams. It was a huge honor to win this award. We also won the 2019 STEM Research Award for New Jersey.

TIR: What can you tell us about the team’s robot?

BH: The team nicknamed their robot “Rags2Riches” this year, because in an anthropomorphic way their robot seemed to like rising up the ranks toward the end of the competition.

TIR: Who won the World Championship this year?

BH: A Canadian team from Ontario is this year’s VEX IQ World Champion.

From left to right: Vedic Patel, Bill Helphingstine, Griffin King, Ansh Jodhani, Neil Rana, Adian Allshouse, Neel Tripathi, Sankalp Tripathi, Ben Brnic

Mr. Helphingstine also interviewed some of the members of the Robotics team. Ansh Jordan, Verdic Patel, Neel Tripathi and Adian Allshouse all responded to his questions with great enthusiasm.

BH: What are people's best responses when you tell them you are the VEX IQ Robotics NJ State Champions?

Ansh Jordan: Wow, isn't that very hard. Wait, out of all of New Jersey? Oh really, that's so cool! Verdic Patel: The best response I got was "That's so cool I wish I could do it next!"

Neel Tripathi: Most people reacted by saying "Good job!", and "Cool!', and one person even said, "You do robotics?"

BH: What was the most interesting thing you learned this year?

AJ: I learned that there is so much physics, programming and time that goes into making a successful robot.

VP: I learned how to make movements of the robot more smooth and fluid. NT: The most interesting thing I learned was each country and teams brings a new variety of robots to the field. BH: What interests you about VEX IQ robotics?

AJ: It interests me how VEX IQ is able to teach so many valuable skills such as programming or building a robot, in such a fun and educational way. 

VP: The fact that the robots are pretty big and you can drive them is what I find interesting about Vex IQ.

NT: What interests me about VEX Robotics is that there are different ways to solve a problem, so you don't necessarily have to build one robot and think you solved a problem. You can build multiple robots until you find the robot that you feel that can best win the game.

BH: What was the best learning experience at the World Championship?

AJ: Talking to the various professional programmers and using the knowledge they taught me to improve on my own skills.

VP: When I started to learn how to design robots in my design notebook.

NT: Going to meet with other teams and learning about their experiences and cultures, how they built their robot, and how they made it to Worlds. My favorite team was the Fruitless Endeavor (from Singapore), because I got to know their culture, and saw they engineered their robot.

AA: Worlds was unique in that we got to work with people from different countries who spoke different languages yet were competing for the same thing.

BH: What is the most exciting part about being involved in the World Championship?  

AJ: Getting a chance to talk to the teams that came from all over the world. I especially liked when we got to learn more about their respective cultures and languages.

VP: Getting teamed with people from other countries and learning about their cultures and lives. Going to Vex Worlds was one of the best experiences of my life. Meeting and working with teams from all over the world was so awesome. Coming home with an award was the icing! NT: We got to meet famous people, like the Master of Ceremonies, Grant Cox, the President of Vex, Dan Mantz, and our own Regional Support Manager, Ben Mitchell.

AA: It is amazing that we are in the top 6% of the best teams in the world! I was so excited that me and my teammates got the opportunity to go. I'm glad that we won an award at Worlds too.

Team Robot "Rags2Riches"

BH: What can you tell us about the robot that you created this year?  

AJ: This year for the robot that we built we included many different elements through collaboration and the engineering process. We had many original ideas of our own, such as hawing a 4 bar lift and a very fast drive train. Throughout the year as we gained experience and knowledge on the VEX IQ program, we made various versions of our robot that progressively got better.

VP: We made the robot very light and fast and we made the lift system have a passive articulation. I am also proud of our wheels which have been modified to wiggle less and making the code for the robot.

NT: The robot that we built had a lifting mechanism to pick up one of the game pieces, which is situated on a tower. We also had two Fs, which were basically two rakes on the side of our robots that went down into the center of the game pieces, and allowed the robot to carry it over the barrier. We also worked on removing unnecessary pieces from our robot to make it lighter and faster. 

BH: What do you hope to do for the next competitive season?

AJ: In the upcoming season, I hope to extend my knowledge as a programmer, place higher in the world rankings and to try to win the Excellence award. The Excellence award is given to the team that shows all around excellence in their robot, engineering notebook and research project. It is a very prestigious award and I hope to win it.

VP: I want to improve on my skills and make it to Worlds again.

NT: What I hope to do during the next season is improve upon my coding and driver skills and to meet up with my buddies so that we can make it to Worlds again.

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