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VEX Robotics teams make Austin proud

By Tom Fritz

Ellis Middle School VEX Robotics Coach

What makes a successful student in the 21st century?  Is it a working knowledge of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM)?  Is it the ability to problem solve and work cooperatively with others?  Is it earning recognition for achievements both in and out of the classroom?  No matter how you choose to define success, there’s no denying that the Ellis Engineers 9452A VEX Robotics team has had a tremendously successful year.

VEX Robotics is a program that requires students to engineer and build a robot from scratch each year to play a predetermined game.  Students, with guidance from their coach and student mentors, use the VEX EDR Robotic Kits to build innovative robots designed to score the most points possible in qualification matches, bracket elimination, and skills challenges.

Students learn valuable engineering and life skills such as teamwork, perseverance, communication, collaboration, project management, and critical thinking. The VEX Robotics Competition prepares students to become future innovators in STEM subject areas and increase their interest in pursuing STEM-related careers

The Ellis team competed in five qualification tournaments this year, where they earned an invitation to compete at the MN State Tournament in St. Cloud on Feb. 1 and 2.   Throughout the competition, students participated in judge’s interviews, skills challenges in autonomous, driver control, and alliance game play. Ellis 9452A wound up winning the Excellence Award, the highest honor given to a VEX team, and wound up winning the entire tournament, being named state champions, and receiving an invitation to compete at the VEX World Competition in Louisville, Kentucky, in late April.

The VEX program is not district funded, which means we are run completely by donation, business sponsorship, and grant funding to cover regular season expenses. Due to the success of this year’s team, we are looking for support from the community to ensure that they have the opportunity to participate in the World Championship competitions. We are currently looking to raise $10,000 to ensure all students, regardless of income, can participate.

This amount will cover all costs of travel, lodging, food, team registrations, and additional parts and pieces necessary for the team to prepare for events. In Louisville, the Ellis Engineers will be representing Austin and the State of Minnesota as one of only three middle school teams going to the event from our state.  We will be competing against the top 150 teams in the world, including teams from China, Spain, Taiwan, New Zealand, and South Korea.

In return for sponsorship and donations, the team would ensure with approval, that company logos and/or individual names would be included on various team signage, clothing, and presentations that the team uses.  That means that all sponsors will receive world-wide recognition.

Funding is appreciated as soon as possible to ensure that we can secure our trip to these important events. Without your help we will not be able to experience this opportunity. 

The Ellis Engineer’s GoFundMe page can be accessed at: https://www.gofundme.com/ellis-engineers-9452a-to- vex-world-championship.  Also, a Pizza Ranch Fundraiser is scheduled from 4:30 to 9 p.m. on Thursday, April 4, 2019. We would like to thank the community for all the tremendous support for our program.  It means the world to us, and we are hopeful that with your help, we can come back from Louisville with some brand new hardware for the Ellis trophy case.

Want to support the VEX Robotics Team?

Please make checks out to Ellis Robotics Team, Ellis Middle School (c/o Ellis Robotics Team),   1700 Fourth Ave. SE, Austin, MN 55912. All donations are tax-deductible.