VEX U robotics team ready to smash the competition

Oct 26, 2021
Mihir Lad works on a VEX U robot.

Florida Polytechnic University senior Mihir Lad, chair of the University’s VEX U robotics team, works on a VEX U robot in the University’s Rapid Application Development (RAD) Makerspace/Robotics Lab.

The Florida Polytechnic University VEX U robotics team is stronger than ever and preparing to repeat and surpass its success at upcoming national robotics competitions.

Last academic year, the team placed sixth in a world qualifier competition and 26th at the VEX U Championship, both in Texas. 

“We want to see all our teams get to the world championship this year and hopefully at least one of our teams gets to that final round-robin elimination,” said Mihir Lad, chairman of the VEX U team.

VEX U at Florida Poly has grown from about 10 members on one team last academic year to more than three dozen members on three different teams this year. Teams are made up of 10 to 12 students.

“Now we have a lot of people who have direct experience in robotics who have joined the team,” said Lad, a senior majoring in computer engineering with a concentration in autonomous robotic systems. “People who have joined who have never done robotics before or who had little experience are being mentored by these experienced people.”

Collegiate VEX U robotics competitions task teams with building a robot to accomplish a specific goal. This year’s teams must design, build, and program a robot to pick up rings and hang them on tree-like racks.

“This year’s challenge is a lot more engaging than last year’s when we only had to pick up balls and score them in a goal,” said Dylan MacAllaster, a junior majoring in computer engineering with a concentration in autonomous robotic systems. “I love everything about this and being able to create something that does exactly what we want it to do.”

The main restriction in the collegiate-level competition, Lad said, is teams must use a few specific components such as VEX motors and a VEX brain.

“After that, you have a lot of freedom in what other materials you can use,” Lad said. “You can 3D print and machine your parts, which definitely makes our robots look more advanced and professional.”

The three Florida Poly VEX U teams are taking advantage of the University’s production facilities to create exactly the components they need to create standout robots and overtake the competition.

Lad said team members are also applying their classroom experience directly to the world of VEX U robotics. 

“We are learning about robotic manipulators and things that we can put to work right away,” Lad said. “In introduction to autonomous vehicles, we were learning about sensor fusion, and I could see how that applies here and how we can make our robots even better.”


Lydia Guzmán
Director of Communications