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First Vex Challenge: A Tool For Developing An Understanding Of The Engineering Design Process

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2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

Emerging Trends in Engineering Education Poster Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

12.748.1 - 12.748.13



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Paper Authors

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Daniel Sullivan The College of New Jersey

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Stephen O'Brien The College of New Jersey

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

FIRST Vex Challenge: A Tool for Developing an Understanding of the Engineering Design Process


The FIRST organization has been successful in its efforts to promote interest in math, science and engineering through its various robotics competitions – the FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) , the FIRST Lego League (FLL) and most recently the FIRST Vex Challenge (FVC).[1] The FIRST Vex Challenge is modeled after the FRC but has greatly reduced the cost and capital investment of the program by reducing the size of the robot and limiting its construction to a specified set of standardized components.

This author has used the Vex design system[2] as a teaching tool within the Technology Education/Pre-engineering teacher education program of The College of New Jersey. Through a series of projects the students are required to apply a consistent methodology with regards to the design process. The Vex system allows for rapid prototyping and testing of ideas as the students work up possible design approaches.

The paper examines the students’ perception of the design process as both an abstract concept and as a tool to be utilized to in order to create working systems. This undergraduate work is then contrasted with the design work used by several high school FVC teams to develop their robots for competition in the 2006 FVC game Hangin’ Around.[3]

The FIRST Robotics Program

During the course of the past eighteen years, the FIRST Robotics program has encouraged young people to challenge themselves and expand their horizons. The vision of the program is simple...

"To create a world where science and technology are celebrated... where young people dream of becoming science and technology heroes" Dean Kamen, Founder

Programs such as FIRST play an important role in the education of students who wish to pursue careers in science, technology, mathematics and engineering. Whether or not FIRST creates the interest or simply reinforces the students’ latent interest, the program is valuable in and of itself for the experience – an experience that involves solving technical problems, working in teams, applying their book knowledge of math and science to real world problems and getting the chance to practice what the FIRST organization calls gracious professionalism.

A team of researchers at the Center for Youth Development at Brandeis University conducted an evaluation of the 2006 FVC pilot season that included observation of the

Sullivan, D., & O'Brien, S. (2007, June), First Vex Challenge: A Tool For Developing An Understanding Of The Engineering Design Process Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--2879

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