NORFOLK, Neb. – Robotics teams from across the Midwest gathered at Northeast Community College for a very important event recently. They came to the College’s Norfolk campus to compete against each in a Vex U Regional Robotics Qualifying Tournament with the winner earning a berth in the 2020 VEX U Robotics World Championship in Louisville, KY, in April.
Teams hailed from the University of Colorado-Boulder, University of Minnesota, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, North Dakota State University - Fargo, XD Robotics, of Valley, Wayne State College, and Northeast Community College. Northeast was one of 20 sites across the United States to host a qualifying event this winter.
Competitors participated in the VEX Robotics Competition Tower Takeover, which is played on a 12’x12’ square field. The competition consists of two alliances - one “red” and one “blue” - composed of two teams each. They compete in matches consisting of a 15 second autonomous period, followed by a one minute and forty-five second driver controlled period. The object of the game is to attain a higher score than the opposing alliance by placing cubes in towers, or scoring cubes in goals.
Richard Chrisman, information technology (IT) instructor at Northeast and tournament director, said Team Bison 1 from North Dakota State took first place and qualified for the world competition. The team also earned the tournament’s Excellence Award.
“The competition was played as intended in a spirit of courteous professionalism by several quality teams,” Chrisman said. “I would not be surprised to see three or more of these teams placing well at the Vex U World Championships in late April.”
Team UMN from the University of Minnesota was runner-up, followed by XD Robotics, Team UNLVU1 from the University of Nebraska, Team Hawks of Northeast Community College, WSC Wildcats from Wayne State College, and CU Buffalos from the University of Colorado.
Chrisman said in addition to Bison 1, Team UMN had already qualified for the world championship in another tournament and XD Robotics should get a second automatic spot as soon as some software issues on a robotics website are sorted out.
Other honors at the Norfolk tournament included the Design Award presented to XD Robotics, the Judge’s Award to Team UMN, and the Sportsmanship Award to Team UNLVU1.
Dr. Tim Garvin, professor and chair of the computer technology and information systems department at Wayne State College, was given the Volunteer of the Year Award.
Northeast Team Hawks members are Travis Munyer, Norfolk, and Cong Vu, Norfolk, originally from South Korea.
VEX competitions represent the world’s largest and fastest growing competitive robotics programs for elementary schools, middle schools, high schools, and colleges. There are more than 20,000 VEX competition teams from over 45 countries that participate in over 1,500 events worldwide. The competition season culminates each spring, with the VEX Robotics World Championship.
Also assisting with the event were Northeast IT instructors Kris Coan, Gigi Simonsen, and Brad Vogt; Shawn Tillotson, associate dean of business and technology; Kirk Christian, instructional technology systems specialist, Lori Nicholson, technology professor at Wayne State College, Rev. Earl Reed, and four student volunteers.
Cong Vu, Norfolk, (left) and Travis Munyer, Norfolk, of Northeast Community College’s Team Hawks compete against members of Wayne State College’s WSC Wildcats during a Vex U Regional Robotics Qualifying Tournament on the Northeast campus in Norfolk recently. Team Bison 1 from North Dakota State University took first place and qualified for the 2020 VEX U Robotics World Championship in Louisville, KY, in April.