This year’s 2016-2017 VEX Starstruck season has been amazing for the Girls of Steel. Despite being in their rookie year, they have managed to accomplish great things throughout the season, including winning the UK National Competition and qualifying for the VEX World Robotics Championship, held in Kentucky, USA. The VEX World Championship is the most prestigious robotics competition, with teams from over 40 countries competing for the title of best robotics team in the world!
Following news of their qualification, Girls of Steel had only a few weeks to prepare. In these weeks, the focus was on the business side of VEX; contacting companies and universities in search of sponsorship funds or donations. There were also multiple ‘Just Giving’ and ‘Go Fund Me’ pages set up, eventually raising £18,000 for the trip to Kentucky. Girls of Steel were also overjoyed to receive support from Tata Communications (global provider of telecommunications services and solutions), Tutor Hunt and Innomech; with their support, the final arrangements for the trip to VEX Worlds were made.
After a long and exhausting flight, the girls (accompanied by Mr Sadler and Mrs Shah), arrived in Kentucky on the 18th April, ready to compete, but were confronted with the news that they were put in the wrong division! At only 13 years of age, Girls of Steel should have been in the middle school division, but due to some complications they ended up in the high school division – competing against some of the best teams. The first day saw the girls setting up their pit, talking to match alliances and getting familiar with the arena, ready for matches on day two. Of the two UK teams, Girls of Steel were the only ones to win their practice matches, which was really encouraging. At the end of day two, they had won two matches and lost one which was an amazing achievement. There were a few problems the next day, resulting in the loss of a few matches, but although the day did not go to plan, spirits were not dampened; returning to the hotel to adjust their robot, and looking forward to the next day. The final day of competition was an amazing experience for the team; they tried their best with the last two matches, but unfortunately they lost against the world finalists.
Overall VEX Worlds was an amazing experience. Girls of Steel were even lucky enough to be interviewed by Autodesk and REC foundation, major sponsors of the VEX Robotics competition, and also got to witness the finals and game reveal live in Freedom Hall which was extremely exciting. They are especially grateful to sponsors Tata Communications, Tutorhunt and Innomech, mentors Volt Robotics and VEX Impact and finally Mr Sadler for making all of this possible. Bring on next season!