Approximately 58 Students from 12 middle schools across the Commonwealth participated in the 2023 GO TEC™ VEX IQ Robotics Competition at the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research (IALR) on April 19. After winning the qualifier rounds, the Chatham Middle School Robotics team and the Starship team from Cumberland Middle School jointly won the final alliance round.
“Our first annual GO TEC™ VEX IQ Competition at IALR was a major success,” said Dr. Julie Brown, Vice President, Advanced Learning at IALR. “This event crystalizes GO TEC’s focus on introducing growing career sectors like robotics and automation to middle schoolers in an engaging and memorable way.”
An action-packed competition pitted student-built VEX IQ Robots against each other in this year’s game, SlapShot. Student teams built robots meant to retrieve small pucks from dispensers and “slap” them under a bar on a 6×8 field. Teams participated in qualifier rounds for a chance to participate in the afternoon tournament, where teams from different schools entered alliances.
The Great Opportunities in Technology and Engineering Careers (GO TEC) team, supported by the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research, facilitated the competition along with the following partners: Danville Otterbots, GO Virginia, Robotics Education and Competition Foundation, the Maritime Industrial Base Ecosystem and others, as well as school systems from the following localities: Martinsville City, Pittsylvania County, Wythe County, Halifax County, Franklin County, Grayson County and Cumberland County. Austin Scher, general manager of the Danville Otterbots, provided color commentary for the events throughout the day. Funding support was also provided by the Office of Local Defense Community Cooperation Defense Manufacturing Community Support Program through the Virginia Maritime Industrial Base Grant.
Each of the students who participated is completing the GO TEC curriculum in their school.
“This robotics contest encouraged students to practice teamwork and innovation, all while learning foundational skills in robotics, automation and mechatronics,” said Jacob Taylor, GO TEC Technical and Training Manager. “We are thrilled to host this event and look forward to bringing in even more teams next year.”
This robotics contest serves as a natural complement to GO TEC, which delivers workforce training and talent development through a collaborative, hub-and-spoke model that involves K-12 school systems, higher education and industry. Starting in middle school Career Connections Labs and continuing through high school, dual enrollment, and post-secondary programs, GO TEC engages students in hands-on learning in high-demand career pathways such as precision machining, welding, IT and cybersecurity, robotics, automation and mechatronics, and advanced materials.