Irvington Robotics Club’s Bluescreens Tackle Vex Challenge


Irvington Robotics Club

Team B and their alliance wait for judges to score their robot’s latest performance.

Andrew Fu, Staff Writer

Irvington’s Robotics Club competed on Feb. 4th in their second tournament of the season at their VEX Robotics Competition at Irvington High School. The event was held in the cafeteria and small gym and was the first competition that Irvington had hosted for VEX Robotics.

Four of Irvington’s teams, named Bluescreens A, B, C, and D, participated in the event, along with teams from other schools and groups. The teams utilized the VEX Robotics System, and each year, the VEX company creates a new challenge,  in which teams create robots out of VEX components to complete certain objectives. There were twenty four teams at the competition that played forty eight matches, and in every match, two teams were randomly paired into an alliance by a management software to compete against the other alliance.

The goal of the tournament is to get a higher score than the opponent teams by programing robots to do various tasks, such as stacking smaller cones onto a larger cone and moving the stacked cones into a designated goal area. Alliances were first given a fifteen second autonomous period, during which their pre-programmed robots worked on pushing as many cones into the goals as possible. The teams then had a two minute period during which they could directly control the robots through a Bluetooth controller to stack cones and transport them to the goals. The points from the autonomous and two minute periods were added up, and alliances with the highest points could participate in higher competitions.

The Irvington teams faced many challenges before this tournament.

“Our previous qualifier was just two weeks and a day before the one we hosted, and all the teams destroyed their robots and completed rebuilt them in two weeks, which was extremely hard to do,” said Club President, Xavier Paris (12).

Nevertheless, the teams managed to work around this complication by reducing the number of objectives that they had to complete and focused on one task at a time. Unfortunately, the limited amount of time given to the teams affected them in the long run.

“Our first robot [for the previous tournament] was really quickly done and rushed, so there were a lot of things that we wanted to change in such a short amount of time,” said Team D member Thomas Chen (10). “We decided to make those changes, but they ended up hurting us because we rushed them and they weren’t well done. In the end when we were using the robot for the tournament, we ran into a lot of problems.”

The teams’ biggest advantage was that the qualifier was hosted at Irvington, and Irvington members knew more about what was going on. The competition held earlier in the season also gave the team meaningful insight in areas that needed improvement. In this tournament, the teams had a better understanding of what they were doing and what to expect based on their experiences from the previous competition.

Irvington’s teams did relatively well during this tournament compared to previous years. The Blue Screen B team excelled and even made it to semi-finals.

“In our previous tournament…we weren’t sure what we were doing, but it gave us experience on what to change, so we did better on the second tournament,” said Team B member Patricia Cai (10). “Our driving system [before] was weak and we drove really slowly, so we added more motors to the base so we could move faster.”

The main obstacle for teams in this competition was the lack of time. In addition to being close to the previous qualifier, this competition was held the weekend after finals week, which greatly added to the workload. Teams struggled under the limited time period, and many things were rushed.

“I would say it opens the light to show us that you really need to prepare ahead of time,” said Chen. “It shows that we need to work harder. I wouldn’t consider the tournament a failure, but it’s definitely not a success. Next year…I’m hoping if we do build something, it will be more planned out.”