The Best in the West: VEX VRC and VEX IQ UK Championships
After last year's event was affected by the 'Beast from the East', it was all very different at this year's VEX IQ Challenge and VEX Robotics Competition UK National Championships. In fact, with nearly 120 teams attending the event at the Telford International Centre, it was very much a case of the 'Best in the West'.
They came from as far afield as Peterhead and Aberdeen, and demonstrated why VEX IQ and VRC has such a vital role to play in educational robotics, with some exceptional building, programming and controlling skills on show in the VEX IQ 'Next Level' and VRC 'Turning Point' games. With a wider range of schools developing a higher level of skill in both competitions, the awards were more evenly spread than usual, with a higher number of schools winning the right to represent the UK at the VEX World Championships. In total, eleven teams from eight schools and one independent team will get the chance to fly to Kentucky, USA next month.
In the VEX IQ Challenge Finals, the top ranked alliance were Glitch 3.0 from Highgate School and E.C.H.O from Queen Elizabeth's School, Barnet, who scored 38 in their Finals match. Tournament runners up, with 34 points, were Supercharge, also from Queen Elizabeth's School, and independent team Vextraordinaires. Four other awards carry automatic qualifications for the World Championships. The Design award was won by Technogear, yet another QE team, while the STEM Research Project Award went to HBS Vexecutioners, who will be flying the flag in Kentucky for the Henrietta Barnett school from Hampstead. The Middle School Excellence Award was won by HBS Incredibots, also from the Henrietta Barnett School, and the Elementary School Excellence Award went to North School Roboteers from North Primary School, Colchester.
In the VEX Robotics Competition, there was something of a surprise, as for the first time since 2015 the winning VRC alliance did not include a team from the prodigiously successful John Warner School, Hoddesdon. After finishing runners up last year, TBC Robotics from Solihull School went one better by first winning the Brunel division and then, in alliance with Download Complete from St Olaves Grammar School, Kent, winning the Grand Final. It was a convincing victory, 26-10, over the winners of the Lovelace division, Thomas and Friends from UTC Sheffield and 3116A Team Control Freaks, from the John Warner School. By winning their divisions these four teams qualified for the World Championships, along with the winners of the Excellence award, H.Y.B.R.I.D. from Queen Elizabeth's School.
"The 2019 VEX UK Nationals were the biggest VEX competition that the UK has ever hosted," said Chris Calver, Rapid's Education Manager and VEX co-ordinator. "After the Beast from the East conspired to make the 2018 finals one of the most challenging ever, 2019 couldn’t have gone more smoothly. This was partly due to the clement conditions, but more importantly because of the army of volunteers (pictured, right) made up of ex-competitors as well as from the worlds of academia and industry that gave their time to be referees, scorers and judges. Without them, an event of this scale would just not be possible."
"What really blew me away about this year’s competition was how well prepared teams are and how being under the spotlight and competing in front of big crowds doesn’t seem to phase them at all. All the hard work that is put in across the season is evident when you see how well these students know their robot designs, code and tactics and are able to continually fine-tune them to maximise performance in every match."
"Good luck to everyone who is heading out to VEX Worlds in the US next month and bring on next season! Look out for the new games at the end of April."