Twenty high school and four middle school teams competed in the first VEX Robotics tournament in Arkansas, held at the University of Arkansas Little Rock on October 21, 2023. The competition is a series of two-minute matches in which teams score points by placing Triballs in goals, elevating their robots at the end of the match, and defending their own goals.
Sandra Leiterman, managing director of the Trojan Cyber Arena, has been involved with VEX Robotics since the 2012-2013 season. She says that robotics tournaments like VEX offer students a unique opportunity to apply their STEM knowledge in a competitive, real-world setting.
Leiterman, who also serves as the coach of the UALR VEXU team named “Just a Prototype,” is no stranger to organizing VEX events. This tournament represents her tenth as an Event Partner (EP) for VEX, a task that requires extensive planning months in advance. She expressed her gratitude to those who stepped up to ensure the tournament’s success when she had to be unexpectedly out of state. Jason Price, the Bryant Jr High VEX Coach and EP; Andrew Bomberger, Research Software Engineer in the Trojan Cyber Arena; Sarah Jones, Event Engagement Manager with REC Foundation, and Jacob Weidenfeller, VEX State EP at Arkansas Tech, played pivotal roles in making the event run smoothly.
The VEX Robotics season will continue with many more tournaments taking place across Arkansas, culminating in March at the state tournament hosted at ATU in Russellville. The winners of the state tournament will earn the opportunity to compete at the World Competition in Dallas, Texas, making these tournaments an exciting and essential part of the STEM education journey for Arkansas students.