Competition Ready: 5 Questions with Manuel Rosado and Edgar Falcón

Manuel Rosado and Edgar Falcon practice for robotics championship

The JWU VEX Robotics Club, JWU1, is headed to the 2019 VEX Robotics Worlds Championship competition taking place in Kentucky later this month. Here club president Manuel Rosado ’19 Robotics Engineering and vice president Edgar Falcón ’19 Robotics Engineering tell us how the team has been preparing for the competition. As graduating seniors, they also reflect on their experiences and their hopes for the club in the future. The 2019 VEX Robotics Worlds Championship will take place from April 24-27. Follow the JWU Vex Robotics Club on Facebook and Instagram to see what happens next.

What’s different in this year’s championship?

Manuel: For this year’s Vex World Championship we had to design and program two robots at the same time. One is a 24-inch robot (big robot) and the other is a 15-inch robot (small robot). They have to be synchronized with each other so they won’t crash into each other. It’s definitely a harder game this year than last year because each robot is [performing] different tasks. The simplest way to put it, is that one of the robots picks up caps and puts them on poles. And the other picks up balls and throws them at flags.
Edgar: Early on we decided that one robot would do one thing and the other another different thing. We have competed with other teams where both of their robots launch balls or both pick up caps, but we decided for us it would be more efficient if they focused on different tasks.

How does the team prepare for this championship?

Manuel: The first thing we do is to have meetings to discuss any problems [with the robots] that would need to be fixed. We had to change the 24-inch robot because the micro controller ports were defective. For the 15-inch robot we just needed to make upgrades. We also assigned tasks to every member that is going to Worlds to be prepared, this also makes it easier for the captains (Edgar and me) to get ready.

two vex robots

What’s going through your mind now that you know the team is going to Worlds?

Manuel: I feel excited for Worlds because I’m going to this competition with everything I’ve got. Since I’m graduating, this is also going to be my last VEX Robotics Worlds Championship, so I’m working as hard as I can to do my best. I’m also feeling happy that we got invited to Worlds because I can show the new members how it’s going to be and they can carry on the JWU1 Team for next year. This is a big event that we have to be prepared for and I’m making sure that when I leave Johnson & Wales we have enough members for next year. 

"I’m going to this competition with everything I’ve got."
JWU VEX seems like a big family. What do you love most about being a part of it?

Manuel: This is a club that anyone can join to get to the goals of the Vex robotics competition. This year the club has gained more members and I am pretty happy about that for the reason that next year the club will keep going. It’s been really fun this year because I know more people from different places around the world. The best thing about that is that we speak different languages but we still communicate to make our goals happen. It’s a wonderful thing when you see people together working to make something happen and I really enjoy that members keep sending me texts asking me about the next meeting, it shows interest in the club.

What does the future hold for JWU VEX?

Manuel: I’m hoping that like this year, we have more members join … and that they also keep going to competitions to represent the university. We're very dedicated to when it comes to robotics. For us, this is our home — we live here. And that’s one of the reasons I’m pretty sad about graduating, because this is basically my home. This is one part of me that I’m going to have to leave behind when I graduate.

"We’ve set the bar high, and we hope the team can build on that."

Edgar: I’m hoping that after we leave, the team can continue to be dedicated. We’ve sacrificed a lot to make this club happen. We’ve set the bar high, and we hope the team can build on that.
Manuel: I’m also hoping that [new members] will start to understand how they can apply what we do in the club to their real lives. There’s a lot of stuff that I didn’t know before starting the club, and I’ve learned so much about the robots and programming, and about the importance of the engineering notebook. These are things that are really important for students to learn about before they go out into the real world.  
Edgar: This robotics club is a good club. Last year we started mid-season and we went to Worlds, and we placed 20th worldwide competing against teams from China and New Zealand [to mention a few]. Then here we are this year, starting again from zero and getting invited again to Worlds, our second year in a row, and we’re still performing well.