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Regional challenge brings robots to life at Vex regional finals in DkIT

31 January 2020

Robots sprang to life at Dundalk Institute of Technology (DkIT) as more than 200 students and teachers showcased their Vex Robotics projects while competing in the VEX regional finals.

For the second year in a row, fifteen primary and secondary school teams from Louth, Meath Monaghan and Dublin competed in the VEX Robotics Challenge, which sees students designing and developing their own robots. 

The VEX Robotics Challenge helps young people develop STEAM skills for life, according to DkIT Lecturer & Vex Robotics Coordinator, Shane Darcy,

The children impressed the judges immensely on the day, not only their robotics skills but also their innovation, creativity, team work and presentation skills. As an Institute we’re always keen to promote the exciting side of STEAM subjects and we run an active outreach programme which aims to inspire students to become interested in computing, engineering and maths at an early stage. VEX Robotics is a perfect example of how STEAM can come to life through teamwork and a bit of healthy competition.”

The VEX Robotics Challenge is a national programme for primary and secondary school level students and encourages them to work in teams to design, build and program a robot. Preparation with students has been taking place since September. DKIT held its first scrimmages in November of last year to prepare students for the competition phases.

A variety of North East Regional awards were presented to schools on the day. These include:

  • Judges Award: CBS Primary School Dundalk
  • Design Award: St Mary's Parish Primary School
  • STEM Presentation Award: Swords Educate Together National School
  • Robot Skills Champion Award: Aston Village ETNS
  • Teamwork Champion Award: Aston Village ETNS and St Mary's Parish Primary School

St Mary's Parish Primary School was awarded the overall regional “Excellence Award” and will now progress to the National Robotics Competition, which takes place later in the year, where they will compete against regional winners from across the country.

Also speaking today, Dr Phillip Scanlon, Student Recruitment and Retention Officer for computing programmes at DkIT added,

We hope that participation in programmes such as VEX Robotics will positively influence the subject choices that students make when preparing for Leaving Cert and when selecting courses for third level education. As the IT sector in Ireland continues to surge, technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality expected to be a core part of the future of work. Regardless of the job or profession a student pursues, gaining these computational and engineering skills while still at school will be invaluable to them for the future.”

During the same week, DkIT also organised a VEX EDR Workshop for secondary school students from across the region. The EDR Challenge is a more advanced robotics challenge for teens up to 18 years old. Participating secondary schools included teams from Dublin taking part for the first time. There were multiple categories that teams were competing for, with the;

  • Design Award: Our Lady's Secondary School Castleblayney
  • Judges Award: Kishoge Community College Dublin
  • Robot Skills Champion Award: Our Lady's Secondary School Castleblayney
  • Teamwork Champion Award: St Mary's College Dundalk & St. Kevins College Dublin
  • Excellence Award: Our Lady's Secondary School Castleblayney

DkIT is delighted to have two exceptional school teams representing the region in this year’s VEX Robotics Nationals and look forward to supporting them at the next phase of the competition.

DkIT currently offers a variety of level 7 and level 8 computing programmes at undergraduate level including a brand new programme in Augmented & Virtual Reality which is the first of its kind to be offered in Ireland. For more information, please visit  

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