Hunter Terry scores a record with VEX World Championship
Hunter Terry is now part of a world record.
“I’m glad to be a part of this achievement! There are so many wonderful people that work to pull together an event like Worlds, and I was so glad to be a small part of it,” Terry said.
As a coordinator for the Southeastern Center for Robotics Education (SCORE), Terry was part of this year’s Remote VEX Robotics World Championship from May 17 through 19, 2021.
“Each year, the REC Foundation runs two competitions: VEX Robotics Competition (VRC) for Middle and High School, and the VEX IQ Challenge (VIQC) for Elementary and Middle School,” he explained.
The virtual competition scored a Guinness World Record® for the largest virtual robotics competition with more than 1,400 teams from around the world participating.
“This year’s game for VRC was an exciting play on Tic Tac Toe. The 12’ by 12’ field contained 9 goals oriented like a Tic Tac Toe board. Alliances are made up of two teams, with a red and blue alliance competing against each other each match. Each alliance has 16 balls of their alliance’s color on the field that they could score in the goals. Whichever alliance had their ball highest in the goal ‘owned’ the goal. Alliances who owned goals in connected rows earned bonus points. During the initial 15-second autonomous period, teams can earn an autonomous bonus by scoring more points autonomously than the opposing alliance,” Terry said.
The games are complex and require a great deal of teamwork.
“The VEX IQ Challenge game involved a similar concept of creating rows by stacking ‘risers’ into 9 goals spread across the 6’ by 8’ field. Teams could earn points for placing risers in their goals, creating connected rows, and stacking risers. Teams work together with another team and share the points they score together,” Terry shared.
The pandemic brought new challenges for these team to compete online.
“As the year went on and the pandemic continued to prevent in-person competitions, the REC Foundation worked with VEX Robotics to create the first-ever Live Remote Tournament software, allowing teams to compete remotely over the internet in real-time using a field, computer, and webcam. Each game was slightly modified to account for rule issues that would be caused with teams competing on separate fields. This new option for competing gave thousands of teams the opportunity to compete remotely and opened the door for countless, inspiring stories of innovation and perseverance,” he added.
So, what was this virtual experience really like?
“The VEX Worlds experience is unlike any other,” Terry said. “It brings teams from across the world into one space together and provides an incredibly valuable experience for students to compete at the highest level while meeting and befriending people from numerous cultures and nations. I first got to experience VEX Worlds in-person in 2019 when Auburn’s VEX U team competed in the VEX U World Championship. The level of production quality and value of the cultural experience was incredibly rewarding to me as a student at the time. This year, although remotely, I got to interact with teams from across the world who inspired me with their kindness, sportsmanship, and competitiveness. The value of interacting with people across other cultures is so valuable not only for students, but the coaches, referees, judges, and parents who join the experience. I believe that experiences like that help push our world toward being a better place.”
And making the world a better place starts with giving students a foundation to learn and succeed.
“I believe that robotics competitions are a fairly self-inspired experience for students. So often, just by giving students the platform to express themselves and utilize their talents, you can open an entire world for them. It never fails to amaze me the incredible things students can do when you give them the space and tools to succeed. So, for me, I strive to give them that platform and make it as enjoyable and rewarding as I can. Whether that be as little as making a cool trophy for them to enjoy with their success, spending hours setting up lights, speakers, and screens to enhance their experience, or helping train and prepare coaches and mentors to build programs that provide students the tools they need,” he said.
The skills students learn from this program will help shape the rest of their lives.
“I think among the most valuable are the soft skills that children can pick up while learning with robotics such as confidence, perseverance, and enthusiasm for learning,” Terry added. “The value in learning robotics goes further, though. Students becoming well-versed in STEM will be the leaders of our next generation as the world shifts toward a more digital and automated society. Skills such as computational thinking, spatial reasoning, and a comfort with learning new technology will set apart robotics students in the coming decades.”
For Terry, it is more than just the machines.
“The most rewarding part of my job is seeing the impact that our work can have on students,” Terry shared. “Having been a student who was once impacted by the efforts of COSAM Outreach, it can even be overwhelming to think about the number of students who I get to help enjoy the same life-changing experiences with every program we run. With competitions in particular, I get to meet and interact with some of the brightest students across all age-levels. I get to hear and see stories of students finding their passion together with their friends and share it because of the competitions that I help run.”
He competed in robotics competition when he was in high school.
“BEST Robotics taught me so much about engineering, teamwork, and perseverance. My senior year of high school, we won our local competition and got to come to Auburn for the South’s BEST Regional Championship. Getting to compete in front of such a large crowd with the incredible display of lights, sound, and more that we put on each year at South’s BEST was one of the highlights of my entire childhood. That incredible experience also played a big role in my decision to attend Auburn University, and a year later I had been hired to join the team at COSAM Outreach and SCORE to help run South’s BEST as a student employee,” Terry said.