In the Zone: RIT’s VEX U Robotics group competes in regional qualifier

Team mixes its competitions with hosting and supporting regional high school teams to help encourage increased participation in STEM programs

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Chris Brown

RIT’s VEX Robotics team traveled recently to West Virginia to compete in a collegiate robotics event.

The RIT VEX U Team competed in the West Virginia 2018 VEX U Regional Qualifier at Fairmont State University last weekend. The event, In the Zone, included teams from the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states including Vaughn College of Aeronautics and Technology, the College of Southern Maryland, Rutgers University and Virginia Tech. Although the team experienced problems with their robot’s autonomous and driver operated programs, the team was able to come from behind, finishing 13th overall.

“This was one of our first competitions and despite the problems, the team was able to overcome difficulties and made improvements throughout the day,” said Chris Brown, systems administrator and lab manager in RIT’s College of Applied Science and Technology. He also serves as team adviser.

Undergraduate students from CAST and the Kate Gleason College of Engineering are part of the university robotics team that competes in VEX U events sponsored by iDESIGN Solutions and the Robotics Education & Competition Foundation. More than 350 university teams take part in local events to qualify for VEX Worlds.

The organization seeks to increase student interest and involvement in science, technology, engineering and mathematics programs by engaging students in hands-on robotics engineering programs. The REC Foundation develops partnerships with K-12 education, higher education, government, industry, and the nonprofit community to achieve this goal and provides online resources, curriculum and program offerings to support robotics and technology events.

RIT’s robotics team hosted one of the regional high school events at the university on Feb. 24 and had nearly 40 teams competing. The alliance of Fulton City High School, Granville Junior & Senior High School and Chittenango Central School won the overall event. Several of the teams will also compete in the upcoming FIRST Robotics Finger Lakes Regional on March 16 and 17 at RIT’s Gordon Field House and Activities Center.