Gross Catholic hosts robotics challenge

Chistopher Weaver, left, Kyle Culp and James Triplett, of Gross Catholic High School, participate in their school’s VEX Robotics tournament. Thirty-one schools from the Metro area competed in the Jan. 23 event.

For the third year, Gross Catholic High School hosted the VEX Robotics tournament. The event took place on Jan. 23 with 31 teams from the metro area.

Gross Catholic’s robotic coach Steve Hamersky said robot competitions provide students with experiences in designing, building and troubleshooting mechanical systems.

“Students also must work cooperatively within their team and with other teams, so they experience the challenges of teamwork in an academically competitive setting,” Hamersky said. “We are developing the next generation of scientists and engineers through practical experience that applies concepts learned in school to a real world situation.”

Other benefits, he said, include teamwork opportunities for non-athletic students — and many participants later find careers in such fields as computer science and engineering.

“We have had many students go into computer programming and mechanical engineering. We have alumni students working for defense contractors in Bellevue, online service companies and other major metro area technology companies,” he said.

The creativity and diversity of the solutions are always surprising, Hamersky said.

“As the game changes each year, the teams choose a solution to reach the game goals. There have been tournaments where every robot had a different design. Students are able to exercise their creativity and see the result of their decisions,” he said.

Participants also have the opportunity to impact their physical world and make connections between structural design, force and motion, and computer programming.

Tournament champions were Omaha Central and Millard North, with Central taking the Excellence Award. Tournament finalists were Omaha South, Central and Council Bluffs Thomas Jefferson.

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