Local schools participating in the 2023 Vex Robotics World Championship
Published 10:46 am Tuesday, March 28, 2023
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By Heather Richardson
Students from Happy Valley Middle School and Happy Valley High School will have a chance to showcase their hard work, talent, and creativity as they compete in the 2023 Vex Robotics World Championship in Dallas, Texas, April 25 through May 4. Their teacher and coach, Kyle Hunt, said the students are devoting several hours each day to making sure their robots are prepared for the high-level competition.
“After coming back from state, it was evident that the robots would have to be much, much better,” Hunt said. Both the middle school and high school teams are in the process of a complete rebuild of their robots which will compete with hundreds of other teams from around the world.
The Happy Valley Robotics teams are no strangers to success. Fourteen teams from the schools have competed at the state level since 2017, and six teams have competed at the world level. Their most recent accolades include tournament championships, tournament semi-finalists, judges awards, skills champions, build awards, and state championships. This year’s teams include Hayden Lewis, Gracyn Carder, Dylan Gerhardt, Malachi Clark, Hayden Decker, Lacy Powell, and Dawson Burgin.
Students are responsible for designing and building the robots from scratch as well as testing and fine tuning them to ensure they are capable of navigating whatever tasks they may be given in the competition. The students put in over 100 work hours which not only shows their dedication but is also allowing them to directly apply mathematical skills and concepts they’ve learned in the classroom as well as knowledge of tools and buildings skills and computer coding skills. The students are also gaining important social skills like teamwork, leadership, problem solving in groups and time management.
“When we go to competitions they have to interact with other teams that most of the time they’ve never even met before, so they are having to build alliances with them and, as a coach, I try to push them along and encourage them to do that because that’s really what helps in the end. When you get two teams together they are unstoppable.”
Hunt said this is only the second time in the middle school robotics team’s history that they have made it to the world championship.
“This is big,” Hunt said. “We’ve had great success with this program and every time is just getting better, so eventually, we are just going to be unstoppable.”
While Hunt, who is retired from the military, attributes the success of the teams to the creativity and tenacity of the students, he said he tries to go above and beyond to make sure the teams have the tools and time they need to reach their full potential.
“As a senior NCO, we were enablers. We made sure that the mission got done no matter what it took,” Hunt said. “Basically I bring the same philosophy. If there is a door closed, I open it. If there is a roadblock I go over it, through it. And I make sure these kids have everything they need to be successful.”
Happy Valley Robotics Accolades
2017 – 2018
• Tournament Championship x 2 Sportsmanship Award Excellence Award
• State Champion
2019 – 2020
• Tournament Championship x 7 Tournament Finalist x 2 Tournament Semi-Finalist Excellence
• Skills Champion Judges Award Build Award Sportsman
2020 – 2021
• Tournament Championship x 7 Tournament Finalist x 2 Sportsman Award
• Skills Champion x 2
2021 – 2022
• Tournament Championship x 1 Think Award
2022 – 2023
• Tournament Championship x 2 Tournament Semi-Finalist x 1 Judges Award x 3
• Skills Champion x 2 Build Award
• State Champion
• State Appearances x 14 Teams Total since 2017
• Worlds x 6 (2018 (MS), 2020 x 2 (MS, HS), 2022 x 1 (HS), 2023 x 2 (MS, HS))