Teams Take Top Honors at Robotics World Championship

ANAHEIM, Calif. (April 21, 2012) -Six robotics teams with connection to Project Lead The Way took home awards Saturday on the final day of the 2012 VEX Robotics World Championship Competition, including the highest honor given at the competition. It was the pinnacle of three competitive days, action-packed by hundreds of tournaments and interviews. Awards were given to the top-finishing team in each division of the competition itself, as well as to the first place finishers in interview-driven, technical- or sportsmanship-based awards.

Winning awards at the 2012 VEX World Championships were: • The middle school team from Oconomowoc Middle School in Oconomowoc, Wis., which took home the top Excellence Award in the middle school divisoin, the highest award presented in the competition • Team “Hazardous” from Loveland, Colo., in the “Create” category, an award given to the team with the most creative engineering solution (team consists of one PLTW student) • Team “CAMS 687N” from the California Academy of Math and Science in Carson, Calif., in the “Energy” category for the students’ extraordinary enthusiasm in the competition • Team “Palladium” from Berthoud High School in Berthoud, Colo., in the “Build” category for its well-crafted robot • “Team Krunch” from East Lake High School in Tarpon Springs, Fla., in the “Think” category, an award given on impressive and effective autonomous programming • Team “Critical Mass”, also from Berthoud, Colo., in the “Excellence” category for its overall robotics program excellence

Winning the Excellence Award gives Oconomowoc Middle School an automatic bid to the 2013 Robotics World Championship. It’s the highest honor a team can receive, because it’s representative of their work and performance in all categories. The award is based on points earned in the tournament qualification rounds, as well as the team’s programming skills competition ranking, robot skills ranking and performance in all other award categories.

PLTW President and CEO Vince Bertram was on hand for the awards. “I’m very proud of them—we had 50 teams here at the VEX World Championships, and for six schools to emerge as best-of-class is very exciting. We’re honored, and we congratulate them,” Bertram said. “It clearly demonstrates that they’ve distinguished themselves in classroom instruction. You don’t have success in this kind of competition unless great things are happening in schools. It doesn’t happen by chance. It’s clear there must be great teaching, local support, and students who are highly engaged and intelligent, and then you see this kind of success. Great things are happening in those schools.”

The winning teams say Project Lead The Way was instrumental in their win. In Team Hazardous’ case, the team was made up of two eighth graders and a freshman in high school, who is enrolled in PLTW. The programming skills he learned through PLTW helped him lead his team’s programming and design of the robot. And it was a freshman on Team Krunch who did all of the programming on their robot from his knowledge gained in Introduction to Engineering Design, winning them the “Think” award—an award that’s presented to a team for successful utilization of autonomous (moving without being remote-controlled) mode during competition. Krunch’s ability to explain the programming process in detail, along with the skill, won them the award.

To make it to the World Championship Tournament in Anaheim, the six teams competed and won one of 230 VEX Robotics Competitions across the world from May 2011 to March 2012. Teams may have also made it by winning the tournaments’ Design and Excellence Awards.

Project Lead The Way is an education nonprofit, focused on writing STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education curriculum for middle and high schools. Through the hands-on, project-based learning, high quality professional development, and partnerships with universities and Fortune 500 corporations, PLTW prepares students for the ever-changing, competitive global economy. The courses in the PLTW curriculum meld perfectly with the VEX Robotics competitions- giving students solid foundations in engineering, design, computer integrated manufacturing, and digital electronics.