APPLETON, Wis. (WFRV) — Students in Xavier High School’s Robotics Club are hard at work preparing for a competition that will take them to Titletown.
More than 250 high school students and mentors will compete in the Northeast Wisconsin VEX Challenge in the Lambeau Field Atrium on January 23rd and 24th.
“[We want to] make sure that we can put up a good fight for the first place because that’ll qualify us for Worlds,” Senior Jimmy McGovern said.
The Xavier High School Robotics Team has made several trips to the World Tournament in its 16 years.
The team is also reigning State Champions, two years running.
“We are currently the only team ever to win State two times in a row,” Senior John Bertello said, “and we’re looking to do it for a third time.”
The team prepares all year for a game designed by VEX Robotics in April.
This season’s game involves collecting and stacking cubes.
“You start building, mocking up up some prototypes, seeing what seems like it will work, building your first robot,” McGovern said of the process. “There are weeks we put in 30 hours.”
Bertello added, “Realistically a robot takes a whole season, a whole year to really define and working the way we really want it to.”
In this sport, nothing is set in stone.
“Typically you take the first one to a tournament, realize there’s a lot of stuff wrong with it,” McGovern said.
It’s that continuous re-thinking that the club’s longtime advisor says teaches kids the most.
“They learn problem-solving and communication, and strategy and tactics and conflict resolution,” Ronald Lohse, Club Advisor said. “You know, things that I can’t write a curriculum for.”
That’s why he lets the students do the heavy lifting.
“That’s just the culture that my group just kind of developed,” Lohse said. “I’m very hands-off.”
To learn more about the competition at Lambeau Field, click here.