Leonard Engineering

Robots Squared off in Louisville at a Competition of Code, Grease, Motors & Wheels

by Elleanor Leonard, President

The greatest two minutes in robotics…

My family and I thoroughly enjoyed volunteering last month at the Kentucky Exposition Center during the 2015 VEX Robotics World Championship presented by the Robotics Education and Competition (REC) Foundation and the Northrop Grumman Foundation.  Steve and I, along with our triplets, were amazed to see the over 15,000 participants from 29 countries putting their engineering expertise to the test during the competition.  From elementary school to college students, there were 850 fierce teams in Louisville, Kentucky.  The video says it all.

Each year, an engineering challenge is presented in the form of a game.  “Skyrise” was the theme this year.  It was fast paced.  Skyrise is played on a 12’x12’ square field with two alliances – one “red” and one “blue” – composed of two teams each, who compete in matches consisting of a fifteen second autonomous period followed by one minute and forty-five seconds of driver-controlled play. The object of the game is to attain a higher score than the opposing alliance by scoring your colored cubes in floor goals, on posts or on your Skyrise, by owning posts and by building your Skyrise sections.

Our children reset the fields between matches.  During the matches, we cheered on the teams and made predictions about the winners.  The teams had their own personalities, strengths, and strategies while tackling the same problem.

Three Excellence Award winners were teams from the United States.  That is good news for the US economy and the demand for STEM trained employees and related companies.   Robot orders and shipments in North America set new records in 2014, according to Robotic Industries Association, the industry’s trade group.

A total of 27,685 robots valued at $1.6 billion were ordered from North American companies during 2014, an increase of 28% in units and 19% in dollars over 2013. When looking at imports, robot shipments also set new records with 25,425 robots valued at $1.5 billion being shipped to North American customers in 2014. Shipments grew 13% in units and six percent in dollars over the previous records set in 2013.

The VEX Worlds will be in Louisville for at least four more years.  It is free, family friendly, and open to the public.  “Nothing But Net” is the theme of the 2015-2016 VEX Robotics Competition which is appropriate for a STEM related event in Kentucky.  This video explains it all.

If you are interested volunteering with us in 2016, visit http://www.roboticseducation.org/vex-robotics-competitionvrc/world-championship-volunteers.  Hope to see you there.

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