Robots to compete in skill competitions


Humberto Arredondo

Robot created for the robotics skill challenge competition

Humberto Arredondo, Reporter

The Scottsdale Community College Robotics Club aims to promote interest in STEM via the use of VEX Robotics both on our campus and primary and secondary schools in the Valley by means of outreach programs.

On the campus of Scottsdale Community College, the Robotics Club meets on each Friday and Saturday for a few hours and their outreach programs vary by location. spoke with Renee Sailus, President of the Robotics Club explained what the club does.

“So, what we do primarily is using vex robotics. We plan, build, test and code different robots to complete a certain task that’s outlined at the beginning of the year,” Sallus said.

The robots they build are intended for skill competitions that they attend throughout the year, ultimately to qualify for the 2019 VEX Robotics World Championship.

“What it is, is you have one robot that fits within a 15 cubic inches and using that you’re on a field and you have to complete a variety of tests, including a flipping over essentially caps to different colors depending on what color you’re assigned, and to throw balls at flags and get them to flip as well as drive up onto a race platforms to score points” said Sailus with regard to the skills challenge.

Building a robot is no small feat, and, according to Sailus, if experienced it could take maybe 25 hours, but if one is just beginning it could take weeks or anywhere from 50 to 60 hours—making every minute of the meeting times invaluable.

We spoke with Bill Johnson founder of the club to learn more about the outreach programs that they are a part of and the motivation behind it.

“We started out with this outreach working with these kids and we worked with all of these elementary schools, boys’ and girls’ clubs, middle schools, etc. Our goal was to promote interest in STEM,” Johnson said.

The first school they worked with was Navajo Elementary in 2009 in which he shared a picture of the children who were part of the program and commented on where a few of those are now.

“There are four students in there who are now at ASU. Biomedical Engineering, Materials Engineering, Sustainable Engineering, Software Engineering. Okay?  It works,” said Johnson, as he addressed the effectiveness of these outreach programs.

The club has also developed an “equipment pool” at Saguaro High School to assist schools in starting a robotics program.

“What we’ve done there is we’ve developed an equipment pool and if a school approaches us and wants to start a robotics program, we try to do is to lend them some equipment, assign a mentor, and get the program started,” Johnson said.

It’s been 11 years since Johnson founded the club at SCC.

Since then, the SCC Collegiate Robotics Team has won three Arizona State Championships (2013, 2014, 2015) and have attended World Championships on three occasions (2014, 2015, 2018).

Their next competition will take place on March 2—an event that will determine if they qualify for the Worlds Championship.