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Students in Northeast Ohio designing and building own robots for state competition this weekend

Posted at 8:16 AM, Mar 01, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-01 08:16:51-05

CLEVELAND HEIGHTS, Ohio — Students across northeast Ohio are learning how to program, design, and build their own robots and Saturday they’ll be putting it to the test.

The annual Vex Robotics Competition brings together teams who qualify throughout the state to find the champion robot.

For teams like Cleveland Heights High School, the road to get to the competition wasn’t easy. It’s the first year they’re competing.

“There is a really big learning curve for the first year. The students have to learn what the pieces are and what are really the options,” said robotics teacher Greg Nachman. “All the veteran teams have tricks on how to do things, or just they’ve learned over the years what works or doesn’t work."

The school has six teams, but only one qualified for states.

Their robot will be judged on its ability to complete practical skills, like precision, agility, and more.

Emma Vail, a sophomore at Cleveland Heights, says the process of trial and error taught her a lot.

“My robot, this year, had a shooting mechanism, so we could hit flags. We also had a flipping mechanism that could flip tops,” she said.

For some students, creating the robots also created a clear path for their futures.

“Through the engineering classes I learned engineering was definitely for me, and as much as I like the mechanical, gritty… electrical engineering is something I can do on a daily basis and still find enjoyment everyday,” said senior Jazzy Gould.

Nachman says even if students don’t go into a STEM field after graduation, through the robotics team they’re still engaged in math and science.

“We have 30 kids on the team. 30 kids on 6 teams. So, that's a lot of students to get involved and be excited about engineering. Engineering is the future. We have to really get students interested and involved,” he said.

The Vex Robotics competition kicks off Saturday and about 40 teams from Northeast Ohio are expected to compete.