Offaly County Council recently hosted the midlands regional finals of the 2024 VEX Robotics Competition in Colaiste Choilm, Tullamore with over 200 secondary school students from across the Midlands region taking part. The competition brings Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) learning to life with students taking part in a game-based engineering challenge to design, code and build robots.
The VEX Robotics Competition is renowned for its emphasis on innovation, creativity, and teamwork and students showcase their ingenuity as they design, build, and program robots to tackle a series of complex challenges. Through this hands-on experience, students not only deepen their understanding of STEM principles but also cultivate essential 21st-century skills such as critical thinking, problem-solving, and collaboration. The competition brings together educators, policymakers, and industry leaders and the event underscores a shared commitment to empower the next generation with the tools and knowledge vital for success in an increasingly technology-driven world.
The journey does not end at the regional level. The finalists emerging from the VEX Robotics Midlands Championships, Oaklands Community College Edenderry, Coláiste Choilm Tullamore and St Joseph’s Secondary School Rochfortbridge/Dreambig, will advance to the All-Ireland nationals in MTU Cork in February, where they will have the opportunity to compete on a broader stage. The winning teams at the All-Ireland will get a chance to represent Ireland at the 2024 VEX Robotics World Championship in USA later this year, where they will vie for top honours against teams from around the globe. The Midlands already has a strong record of success, with a primary school team from Tubber National School travelling to Texas last year to represent Ireland at the world finals.
VEX Robotics is also continuing to draw support from regional enterprise partners, with the regions ICT and Advanced Manufacturing Clusters, as well as key regional employers including Ericsson, Grant Engineering, Mergon, Dekotek and Robotics & Drives. By equipping students with STEM skills from a young age, the region is nurturing and developing the engineering and tech talent of the future while showcasing career opportunities here in the region.
The Head of Information Systems/Broadband/Digital with Offaly County Council, Ray Bell, said “the VEX Robotics programme is about giving students the skills they need for the future. With VEX Robotics we’re teaching vital skills in coding, engineering, and robotics to those from 8 to 18, and more than that, the programme develops their problem solving and team working skills as they develop their robots. This event is also a great example of the power of collaboration in advancing STEM education. By uniting educators, government officials, and industry partners, we are not only inspiring students to explore the wonders of robotics and coding but also laying the groundwork for a future fuelled by innovation and discovery.”
Chief Executive of Offaly County Council, Anna Marie Delaney, said “Offaly County Council are proud to have led the introduction of VEX Robotics in the Midlands region. The programme is now embedded in over 80 primary and secondary schools in Offaly, and we are so encouraged to see the demand for the programme extend into neighbouring counties across the Midlands to become what is now a truly regional competition. Supporting the students of our region to develop STEM skills for the future is important for Offaly and for the wider Midlands region.”