Above: The LA Robotics Team at the World Championships in Dallas. Back from left: Henry Maddox, CJ Colomb, Owen Dyer, Connor Parsons, Austin Levesque, Ryan Naylor. Front row from left: Izzy Petersen, Grady Burns, Joseph Levesque, Jake Shaw, Ryan Sullivan, Jackson Ross, and team coach Susan Levesque.

LA Robotics team robot operators Jake Shaw, Owen Dyer, and Ryan Naylor (far left) competing at the VEX Robotics World Championship in Dallas, Texas. Izzy Petersen photo.

Twelve members of the LA Robotics Team traveled to the VEX Robotics World Championships in Dallas Texas last week. At the tournament they competed with their State-Runner Up robot, 8030A, in the 2021-22 VEX Robotics Competition challenge, which involved building and programming a robot to place rings on goals and balance robots, rings, and goals on a platform.

The VEX World Championships at the Kay Bailey Hutchinson Convention Center in Dallas, Texas

The VEX World Championships at the Kay Bailey Hutchinson Convention Center in Dallas, Texas. Photo by Izzy Petersen ’23 .

The World Championships included approximately 800 teams who traveled from all 50 states and 40 countries around the world. The teams were divided into 10 divisions, and most of the competition took place within those divisions. LA’s team competed in 10 matches, and of those they won five and lost five, placing them in the middle of the pack in their division and the competition overall.

Owen Dyer '22, left, and Joseph Levesque '25, ith Robot 8030A

Owen Dyer ’22, left, and Joseph Levesque ’25, with Robot 8030A. Photo by Izzy Petersen ’23

“I was happy with how we did,” said senior Owen Dyer, a team captain who led the construction of robot 8030A. “Being able to compete at that level, and seeing what the best teams in the world had to offer–their strategies and what they did with their robots–was really cool to see. There was a team who had a coach who was a VP at Google, a team coached by one of the founders of VEX robotics, and then us, and other small schools from all over.”

In Dallas, the team stayed at the Embassy Suites Hotel and spent their days at the Kay Bailey Hutchinson Convention Center. LA Robotics instructor and coach Sue Levesque and math teacher Shelly Richardson traveled with the team.

“This was an incredible educational experience for everyone involved,” said Levesque. “To see students from all over the country and the world solving the same creative challenge in so many different ways was eye opening for all of us. We will be a better team for having seen the bigger world of robotics that is out there.”

Dyer said, “we came into the competition pretty open minded about what to do in terms of strategy, but some of our alliances had practice rings set up at their stations, and they had different strategies, like setting up the robots as a train during competition. We got to practice with them before matches so we could learn some new strategies.”

Dyer plans to study engineering at Embry Riddle Aeronautical University in Arizona, where he hopes to participate in collegiate robotics. Each year the VEX competition challenge is similar for middle school, high school, and collegiate levels, according to Dyer, but colleges “can have bigger robots and fewer restraints, and they compete one on one instead of as an alliance.”

Freshman CJ Colomb with coaches Shelly Richardson and Sue Levesque watching the action at the Robotics World Championships.

Freshman CJ Colomb with coaches Shelly Richardson and Sue Levesque watching the action at the Robotics World Championships. Photo by Izzy Petersen ’23.

One of the highlights of the trip, according to Dyer and Levesque, was the final competition, which took place in a huge auditorium with a high tech light show. The LA team also enjoyed watching their Maine State Championships alliance partner, Thornton Academy, progress to their division finals. “The team from Thornton went really far, and did really well. They almost made it out of their division to the final round,” said Dyer.

“We are grateful to local businesses and individual donors who made this trip possible,” said Levesque. “When we found out that we had qualified we did not think it would be possible for the whole team to fly to Dallas, but thanks to the generosity of this community, we got to make this trip of a lifetime. None of us will ever forget this experience!”

Major donors included the Lincoln Academy Boosters, Masters Machine Co., Washburn and Doughty Associates, Sabre Yachts & Back Cove Yachts, and The Burns Family Foundation, as well as families of team members and other local supporters.

Robot 8030A made the trip to Texas with the LA Robotics team to compete in the World Championships. Izzy Petersen photo.

Robot 8030A made the trip to Texas with the LA Robotics team to compete in the World Championships. Izzy Petersen photo.

What is the future for Robot 8030A? “It will be taken apart and repurposed for next year,” said Dyer. Next year’s VEX Robotics challenge, which was announced at the end of the World Championships event, uses the principles of disc golf, where robots will toss or place discs into baskets.

“Owen and 8030A have made VEX Worlds a more realistic goal for our robotics team as a whole,” said junior Grady Burns, a member of the LA robotics team who went to Dallas. “I know that we will be pushing to attend the competition again next season.

More photos of the VEX Robotics World Championships on the LA Flickr page.