Robotics competition ‘lifts spirits of middle schoolers’


Members from Team Las Reinas make adjustments to their robot at the practice fields during the VEX Robotics Competition hosted by the El Camino Robotics Club in the South Gymnasium on Saturday, Nov. 9. The competition is a fundraising event for the El Camino Robotics Club that brings kids together to create machines that complete objectives. Jaime Solis/The Union

The excitement on children’s faces, as well as the notable curiosity and fascination on the faces of supportive parents and mentors, filled the room as El Camino College’s South Gymnasium hosted the VEX Robotics Competition on Saturday, Nov. 9.

The event hosted 35 teams, representing middle schools and youth STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) organizations across Southern California, and scheduled 56 matches to take place, according to event organizers.

“It’s really cool to see potential future leaders of the STEM field help encourage others and prioritize their education outside of the classroom,” Inter-Club Council (ICC) Director of Diversity Giancarlo Fernandez said.

Participants competed in Tower Takeover, an objective game in which alliances, comprised of two different teams, attempted to place cubes in towers or on goal zones located at the four corners of a competition field.

The game consists of one initial 15-second round, where both alliances try to score as many points as possible. The next round is one minute and 45 seconds and involves teams’ robots being operated by a driver to complete an objective.

A volunteer for the Vex Robotics tournament hosted by the El Camino College Robotics Club in ECC’s South Gym checks Team Village Bot’s robot’s dimensions in the queuing area on Saturday, Nov. 9. Each robot has to fit within certain dimensions, measured by the metal U, in order to qualify for competing. Jaime Solis/The Union

“I think it really lifts the spirits of middle schoolers to get into the STEM field and actually get inspired by this to keep on going in the STEM field because we need more engineers in this world in order to get problems solved,” Robotics Club President Noe Servellon said during the competition.

Servellon added that one of the main benefits of signing up for robotics competitions, such as the VEX Robotics competition, is the fact that young engineers are able to test the durability and usefulness of their robots.

Robots that participated in the VEX competition on Saturday were judged on both design and their respective engineers’ notebooks, which details the manufacturing process of the robot as well as any improvements that had to be made on the robot.

Brandon Marshall, former president of the ECC robotics club and event organizer, said that the competition is the main fundraiser for the robotics club and that the money raised is used to buy robot parts, attend competitions, and for additional items that are used when the club holds other competitions.

The robot from Team Supernova-Route 66 does its job of stacking blocks in their corner during the Vex Robotics Competition on Saturday, Nov 9, hosted by the El Camino Robotics Club in ECC’s South Gymnasium. Participants competed in Tower Takeover, which consists of stacking blocks in either goal zones or at towers on a competition field. Jaime Solis/The Union

Brinna Lopez, a seventh grader from Jerry D. Holland Middle School, said she signed up for the competition after joining the robotics team at her school due to her interests in building and engineering.

“It’s nerve wracking but it’s also exciting,” Lopez said when asked what the effect of signing up for the VEX Robotics competition is like.

Mely Escalante, a parent who was in attendance supporting her young aspiring engineer, noted that her son Eric has had an interest in robotics since he was five years old when he first started building with LEGO bricks.

“It’s good [to] learn to work with other kids and [different] styles,” Escalante said. “It will prepare them for college and work in the future.”