East Elmhurst’s Vaughn College earns first place recognition at International Vex U Competition

Photo courtesy of Vaughn College

The Vaughn College Robotics Team competed among seven international teams in the VEX U Competition in Cancun, Mexico, finishing second place overall in the competition and earning first place recognition for the robotics skills champion category.

Faculty adviser Dr. Hossein Rahemi, chair of the Engineering and Technology Department and Khalid Mouaouya, associate professor of Engineering and Technology, were on-site for the event lending support to the team during their matches.

“I’m so proud of my students, they did a great job in the competition,” said Rahemi. “I see how well they perform and how they challenge themselves…they have a passion.”

In the Nov. 23 VEX Robotics Competition, presented by the Robotics Education and Competition Foundation, teams of students are tasked with designing and building a robot to play against other teams in a game-based engineering challenge, according to its website. The VEX U college and university competition has more than 300 teams competing in local tournaments and at VEX Worlds.

The Vaughn College Robotics team used mechanical, electrical and programming skills to build this year’s robots for the Turning Point Challenge.

The Turning Point Challenge is played on a 12’x12’ square field. Two Alliances – one “red” and one “blue” – composed of two Teams each, compete in matches consisting of a fifteen 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 High Scoring or Low Scoring Caps, Toggling Flags, and by Alliance Parking or Center Parking Robots on the Platforms.

Team VCAT finished in the qualifying round with a total of eight wins out of nine matches and advanced to the playoff round. In their quarterfinal match, the team won against Universidad Politenica de Tapachula, and also eliminated Universidad Politecnica de Quintana Roo during the semi-final match.

After advancing to the finals, Vaughn’s team lost to Universidad Tecnológica del Centro de Veracruz (VCAT—13, UTCV2—15) in a close match. The team finished second place overall in the competition and earned first place for the robotics skills champion category, and are currently first in the world in the skills category.

Niki Taheri, a senior at Vaughn College studying Mechatronics, joined the Robotics Club in her freshman year.

To prepare for the competition, the team builds the robots and conducts a test run, according to Taheri.

“To complete one robot takes around three months but it’s never completely done,” said Taheri. “Even after it’s doing being built, we still have to program it and practice driving it and then when you’re driving you might find something wrong and have to go back and fix it…it’s constantly making improvements.”

For the past five years since 2013, the team has been a part of the world championship, said Rahemi. They’ve been invited every year to compete against other schools in Mexico.

“Every year the competition task is different,” said Rahemi. “They designed different tasks and you have to design your robot to satisfy those requirements.”

The team plans on returning to Mexico next year to compete in the Vex U Competition.

“The teams are very dedicated and they have a devotion and hard work and we also encourage and support them,” said Rahemi. “Being a part of the competition is important giving them the hands-on skills they need for a successful career path. All of our students who are a part of these clubs get job offers. Those skills open their opportunities with different companies.”


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