After school in the Engineering Technology shop at Blackstone Valley Tech observers will notice groups of students hunched over tables looking over schematics, strategizing for competition, and reading guidelines. Robots rest on tables and shelves throughout the room along with several metal pieces and tools. The students are members of the school’s robotics club who are diligently preparing to compete in, and pursue a spot at the international competitions of, two robotics competition series.
The club meets collectively each week to build and code robots to perform specific tasks. The tasks the robots need to complete differ by competition series as do proportion and function restrictions. The two competition series themselves also differ in size and scope, but both require intense science, technology, engineering, and mathematics preparation.
One of the competition series, VEX Robotics, splits the club into several teams of three to four members who create a robot measuring at most 18” x 18” x 18” to compete in a game. The game changes each year allowing students to flex their engineering skills with a new project.
“I went to the world competition last year for VEX Robotics and it was an amazing experience,” said Casey Gosselin a senior Drafting and Engineering Technology student from Northbridge. “It’s the goal to get back there this year and compete again.”
This year, participants of VEX Robotics tournaments will compete in a game called “In the Zone.” The object of the game is to score the most points by stacking the most cones on goal posts, placing cones in specific goal zones, and building the tallest stack of cones on a goal.
Whereas students are already competing in VEX Robotics, the FIRST Robotics competition season is just getting into gear. The club will not know the event the robot will be competing in until the kickoff ceremony on January 6, 2018. Once the event is announced, the club will have six weeks to build and program their robots before it must be bagged until competition begins in March.
While the club awaits the FIRST Robotics announcement, they have dedicated their skills and focus to the VEX Robotics series. On November 19, the club sent five teams to Quinsigamond Community College to compete for a qualifying spot at the state competition.
Two of BVT’s teams won awards, including the Design Award and the second place title. Team E, which consists of members Rosalyn Youssef of Millbury, Ashley Hamilton of Millbury, Emily Weagle of Millbury, and Alexandra Valoras of Grafton, received the Design Award for having the top robot design, best engineering notebook, and an outstanding interview with the judges. Team H, which consists of Casey Gosselin of Northbridge, Zack Griggs of Northbridge, and Nick Connolly of Bellingham, took home the second place title.
“This VEX competition was nerve wracking because it was the first competition of the season, but it was good that our robot competed well,” said Gosselin. “It was great to see all the teams and come together again.”
Each team received valuable feedback to incorporate into its robot and strategy for the next VEX competition on January 6, 2018 at Quinsigamond Community College where teams will continue to seek qualification spots. The club continues to meet collectively and in groups to perfect their VEX robots and prepare for the FIRST Robotics build season.
“I’ve learned teamwork and leadership skills, a better understanding of the engineering and design process, and a broad spectrum of engineering skills,” said Gosselin. “Being involved in the Robotics Club helped me decide to study robotics and engineering in college next year.”
Blackstone Valley Regional Vocational Technical High School serves the towns of Bellingham, Blackstone, Douglas, Grafton, Hopedale, Mendon, Milford, Millbury, Millville, Northbridge, Sutton, Upton and Uxbridge. Located in the heart of the Blackstone Valley, Blackstone Valley Tech creates a positive learning community that prepares students for personal and professional success in an internationally competitive society through a fusion of vigorous vocational, technical, and academic skills. The school’s website is www.valleytech.k12.ma.us.
The BVT Robotics Club kicked off its VEX Robotics competition season on November 19 at a competition at Quinsigamond Community College. Seen here at the event are (left to right): Zachary Comer of Mendon, Rainer Djohan of Grafton, Sebastian Vasquez of Mendon, Justin Thayer of Uxbridge, Connor Andrews of Sutton, Alexandra Valoras of Grafton, Ashley Hamilton of Millbury, Casey Remillard of Bellingham, Zachary Griggs of Northbridge, Nicholas Connolly of Bellingham, Jake Poirier of Upton, and (floor) Thomas Watson of Blackstone.
Members of the BVT Robotics Club kicked off their VEX Robotics competition season at Quinsigamond Community College where Team E won a Design Award for presenting the best engineering notebook, robot design, and interview. Pictured here are members of the winning team (left to right): Alexandra Valoras of Grafton, Rosalyn Youssef of Millbury, and Ashley Hamilton of Millbury.