Robotics provides a fun, high-tech, engaging way to connect youths’ interests in robotics to opportunities in manufacturing.
Minnesota State Advanced Manufacturing Center of Excellence has led VEX Robotics in Minnesota, hosting tournaments and scrimmages, and providing resources and training to help coaches, educators, and tournament managers learn how to connect robotics to modern manufacturing.
Since 2006, Minnesota State Advanced Manufacturing Center of Excellence has:
Provided kits to over 50 teams
Reached over 2,500 students
Hosted over 40 scrimmages and tournaments
Reached a 40% female participation rate
Supporting Youth Robotics Programs
Through the Minnesota State Advanced Manufacturing Center of Excellence college partners, VEX Robotics kits are provided at no cost to Minnesota schools and organizations for VEX robotics teams. Faculty at partner colleges host scrimmages and small competitions at their colleges so students and their coaches can prepare for tournaments. They also get to see for themselves how manufacturing relates to robotics and learn about career pathways.
Our college partners also host tournaments, including a state tournament, where students compete for invitations to the World Championship. Industry is invited to participate at these events, including judging and displays.
What is VEX Robotics?
VEX Robotics is a small-team robotics program that asks students to build a robot using a VEX Robotics design system kit. Each April, a competition game is introduced at the World Championship. Teams are able to start working on their robot after the game is announced.
There are three levels of competition:
- VEX IQ for elementary and lower middle school grades
- VEX Robotics Competition (VRC) for higher middle school and high school grades
- VEX U for college teams
What are Tournaments like?
Tournaments are fun, busy, and high-energy events. Teams often have:
- A team mascot
- Uniforms or similar dress
- Team information at their tables
- Family and friends at the tournament with signs and cheers
Tournaments are fast-paced, so teams are responsible for being on time to rounds and meeting with judges.
Coaches may find the VEX forums (page does have user guidelines) and searching for information online helpful for preparing for tournaments. Teams are also suggested to arrive early for inspection and to bring extra parts and tools.
Coaches may also find the VEX Robotics Coach Handbook helpful as they and their teams are preparing for a tournament.
There are tournaments held throughout the state that qualify teams for the State VEX Robotics Tournament.
Why VEX Robotics?
There are several great robotics programs available. We have worked with VEX Robotics because:
- Teams can work on their robots year-round
- Robotics kits are cost-effective (a starter kit is around $1,200) and can be used multiple years
- Project Lead the Way uses VEX Robotics in their curriculum
- It is designed to be a student-led activity
- It offers opportunities to participate from elementary school through college
Showing the Connection to Manufacturing Careers
We highlight the connection between robotics and the career opportunities in manufacturing to youth and their parents and teachers.
In fact, after the 2013-2014 season:
- 63% of the participants said they were likely to consider a manufacturing career
- 71% indicated interest in manufacturing careers—an increase of 33% from how they felt before participating
- 84% of the adults surveyed felt manufacturing careers were “good”, a positive change of 36%
- 78% of adults felt youth were interested in manufacturing careers