Robotics Team competes at VEX Robotics World Championships


By Shrija Krishnan, Staff Reporter

From designing meetings to coding all night, Conestoga Robotics members dedicated nearly 30 hours of weekly preparation to finalize designs for the 2023 VEX Robotics World Championship, according to sophomore Aditya Kothari. For 6121A and 6121C, the two Conestoga teams that qualified for the world championships, the process of building a functioning robot from metal pieces and screws was an extensive, season-long endeavor.

The VEX Robotics program releases a new game each season for members across the globe to build robots to compete at its World Championships, held annually in Dallas, Texas from April 23 to 26. This year’s theme was “Spin Up,” a frisbee golf inspired game in which teams designed a robot that shoots discs into goal posts. The robot typically goes through multiple versions throughout the season before the design is finalized.

“What we build over the summer in July might not be the best robot we build in February, a month before states. Throughout the season, we’re prototyping different things,” Kothari, co-captain of team 6121C, said.

Team 6121C designed a catapult robot, which synchronizes shooting three discs into goal posts using a “grouping” mechanism. Additionally, the team’s expansion engineers developed a string expansion mechanism through which the robot can maximize its size, a secondary objective which awards extra points in competition. Kothari noted that integrating all of his team members’ roles was challenging, but remained his priority as co-captain.

“Having a couple people doing all the important things, and having other people do all the dirty work, (is) the model other teams have done in the past,” Kothari said. “But since we’ve involved all our members, I feel like our team is full of skilled individuals who can pitch their own ideas and help make the robot better.”

Junior William Wan, a member of team 6121A, explained that his team needed to rework its robot design due to a misunderstanding regarding one of the game’s rules. He notes that although there were initially significant obstacles for the team, he saw improvement in communication later in the season.

“We encountered a communication roadblock toward the middle of the season, but we were able to pinpoint that and shift our dynamic,” Wan said. “As the season progressed, the dynamic had to evolve to become more efficient, or we would pay the price of not qualifying to where we wanted to.”

Besides strengthening the team culture, the competition also fostered a commmunity where multiple robotics teams can meet. The opportunity to meet diverse members from different cultures around the world is a highlight for many attendees.

“Seeing people speak in their own languages, wearing their own, traditional clothing and just being themselves, is really different for us living in a very American culture. Seeing other cultures all around the world is very interesting,” Kothari said.

Wan believes that the grand scale of the World Championships makes the competition an even more exciting experience for members.

“We go from competition in a school gymnasium to a massive venue center where we get to meet teams from around the world,” Wan said. “It’s good exposure to see how we measure up to these bots that we know are the best of the best.”

Shrija Krishnan can be reached at [email protected].