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The MSP-sponsored team with Jack Lloyd, a Graduate Software Engineer at MSP.

Global software company sponsor students in international robotics championship

Alnwick-based manufacturing and software specialist, MSP are supporting a team from the local Duchess’s Community High School in their bid to become international champions in a global robotics competition.

The Vex IQ Challenge, run by Vex Robotics, is a worldwide robotics competition comprising of 8,500 teams of primary/secondary students from 45 countries playing in over 900 tournaments.

The competition encourages teams to design and build a robot to play against other teams in various engineering skills challenges. Each team has to go through regional and national heats, with the aim to qualify for the Vex Robotics World Championships in April. To get through to each heat, teams have to score the most points on each challenge; some of which involve driving the robot to pick up objects and place them in point-scoring areas, or programming the robot to drive around the competition ‘field’ unaided.

This year, MSP will be sponsoring the Duchess’s Year 7 entrant and their funding will provide the entry fee for the team and mean they can buy more parts for the robot and components necessary for the competition.

MSP, who write software which automates the machining process and helps manufacturers produce 100% accurate parts, will also provide engineering and programming support for the team if needed throughout the project.

Currently, the team are at the initial stages of the project, building the robot and developing their strategies to ensure they score the most points in each challenge. They will then move onto programming the robot for the unaided challenges.

Some heats in the Vex IQ Challenge involve driving the robot to pick up objects and place them in point-scoring areas.
Some heats in the Vex IQ Challenge involve driving the robot to pick up objects and place them in point-scoring areas.

The school will also be entering a Year 8 team for the second year in a row. Last year, the same team won the regional final and qualified for the national heat. They are currently ranked 693 out of 8,500 teams globally for their programming skills.

Mike Skinner, Head of Engineering, Design + Technology at the Duchess’s, comments:

“We are so thankful to companies like MSP for sponsoring this project. It will give us the freedom to buy components for the robot which will hopefully elevate it to another level. Participating in a competition like this is invaluable for the students; they are able to develop their skills in STEM subjects as well as their problem-solving and teamwork abilities."

Tony Brown, MSP Commercial Director, also says:

“It is exciting to support the next generation in their first experiences of engineering and the VEX IQ Challenge is a great opportunity to get practical knowledge in many areas of the subject. A couple of our engineers have already volunteered to share their expertise and help the students with this project. We wish them the best of luck in the competition.”

The regional heat takes place in February 2020.

For more information about MSP, get in touch. For more information on the VEX IQ competition, visit their website.

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