The finals of the 2019 Dell EMC VEX IQ Primary School Competition took place today in the Cork Institute of Technology (CIT), with 550 students from across the country bringing STEM skills to life by designing and building robots to play against other teams.
The Dell EMC VEX Robotics competition has grown significantly in recent years demonstrating the interest amongst young people to engage with STEM at the earliest opportunity. From the initial 10 secondary schools participating in the inaugural competition in 2012, this is the first year schools outside Munster are taking part, with students from every corner of Ireland represented at today’s final.
In 2014 the competition expanded to primary schools, with 19 schools competing in the first Dell EMC VEX IQ competition. Out of 99 participating primary schools this year, 20 qualified through to today’s final where teams competed for a spot at the VEX World Competition in Kentucky. In 2018, Kinsale Community School won the Community Award at the EDR world final.
This year, approximately 3,250 students from across the four provinces participated in the four regional finals that took place in January in Cork Institute of Technology, Mary Immaculate College Limerick, Dundalk Institute of Technology and Letterkenny Institute of Technology.
The game-based engineering challenge gives both primary and secondary schools a fun, engaging and hands-on opportunity to explore and experience STEM for themselves. Students are asked to design, build and programme their own robot to play against other teams. In September schools are provided with an easy to follow curriculum to help the schools run the preparation stages independently with the support of Dell EMC team members. Teams spend months working on their projects, with practice scrimmages taking place in November to help students prepare for the competition phases.
Bob Savage, Managing Director and Vice President EMEA, Dell EMC Centre of Excellence and Chairperson of CIT Governing Body, said: “As a company, we’re committed to showcasing the opportunities that STEM subjects unlock for our young people in Ireland. That is why our team members have been the driving force of the Dell VEX Robotics competition, helping to grow the number of students and schools taking part and bring the challenge to all four corners of Ireland. It’s fantastic to have students from as far north as Bundoran and Dundalk competing this year. At today’s national final, we have seen some of the most innovative robots developed in recent years which reaffirms my belief that we must give students an early opportunity to engage with STEM in a fun and engaging manner. The creativity on display today proves we have many talented future engineers and developers in our midst.”
Professor Hugh McGlynn, Head of School of Science and Informatics, CIT said: “We are delighted to have founded the VEX Robotics Challenge with Dell and continue its expansion. Primary school students are the perfect age to begin their STEM education, and the project gives them an early opportunity to hone their teamwork, creativity and analytical skills. Well done to all of today’s winners and to all of the primary school students who took part.”
The VEX Robotics Competition run by Dell is a unique school project, as the competition gives children as young as 5 years old their first opportunity to learn about engineering and robotics. It is also an inclusive competition, with most teams comprised of full primary classes, giving every student early exposure to technology. This is key to building that pipeline of talent to continue Ireland’s thriving technology industry. The competition also builds connections across the community, with schools receiving mentorship from Dell team members and third-level institutions.
The Dell EMC VEX Robotics Challenge is delivered by Dell in partnership with CIT and is supported by Science Foundation Ireland. Throughout the last year, strategic partnerships have been built with various educational institutions across the country. Mary Immaculate College in Limerick, Letterkenny Institute of Technology, Dundalk Institute of Technology, Carlow Institute of Technology and Tralee Institute of Technology have held the regional finals of the competition and/or delivered workshops on VEX Robotics for teachers.