Topic outline

  • General

    We live in a world that is increasingly dependent on automation and robotics to meet the demands of manufacturing, experimentation, and research and development, amongst many other fields.  Students in this class will be exposed to the emerging technologies, principles, and problem solving incorporated into this field.  Students will use software to program custom-built robots to suit specific needs and challenges.  Using science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) students will build complex electro-mechanical systems that move independently and perform pre-programmed tasks.

  • Unit 1: Unit 1: Introduction to Engineering

    This unit introduces students to what engineering is.

    Students will learn what the engineers do.  They will also learn what the different types of engineering are and the specific tools used by engineers during their work.  This unit will show students how to begin and use and engineering notebook.  This notebook will be used to document their progress throughout the semester. 

    • The students will be able to demonstrate how classical mechanics is used in the engineering process.
    • The students will be able to correctly produce entries into their engineering notebook.
    • The students will be able to produce a prototype of their design.

  • 1.2: Engineering/Design Teams

    Most problems require more than one engineer to solve.  Take for instance the design of an automobile.

  • 1.3: What is the Engineering Design Process?

    1.3: What is the Engineering Design Process?


  • 1.4: Design Documentation


  • 1.5: Design Challenge

    1.5: Design Challenge


  • 1.6: Engineering Notebook

    1.6: Engineering Notebook


  • Unit 2: Introduction to Robotics

    Unit 2: Introduction to Robotics

    In this unit students will learn about robotics in our world, and how the different aspects of STEM are all used in the field of robotics. This unit will also provide an introduction to the VEX Robotics Design System, students will get an overview of the different subsystems within the VEX system and how they interact together. Students will then put this knowledge into practice as they follow step-by-step directions to build their first robot.

    • The students will be able to discuss how robots are used today in industry, research and in education.
    • The students will be able to explain what the different basic components of a robot are and how they perform their function.
    • The students will be able to correctly produce entries into their engineering notebook.
    • The students will be able to assemble the VEX Clawbot using the directions provided in the kit.

  • 2.1: What is Robotics?

    2.1: What is Robotics?

  • 2.2: VEX Robotics Design System

    2.2: VEX Robotics Design System


  • 2.3: Building the VEX Clawbot

    Now that the basics about robotics and the VEX Robotics Design System have been covered, it’s time to find out what all the excitement is about! The next phase is the building of an actual VEX robot, the VEX Clawbot. Follow the step by step instructions included in the Clawbot kit to complete the mechanical assembly of the Clawbot. Stop at Step #27 of the instructions, before you do any wiring. The wiring of the Clawbot will be covered in Unit 3.

  • Blind Challenge #1

    Blind Robot Challenge  #1

  • 2.4: Engineering Notebook

    2.4: Engineering Notebook


  • Unit 3: Introduction to VEXnet

    In this unit students will learn about the core components of the VEX control system - the Cortex Microcontroller, VEXnet Joystick and VEXnet Wireless link. Students will then get the opportunity to use their previously built robots to compete in a head-to-head challenge against their classmates.

    • The students will be able to explain what the specific components that make up the VEXnet System can do and how they are used to control the robot.
    • The students will be able to set up their microcontroller to function in both autonomous and drive controlled modes.
    • The students will be able to correctly produce entries into their engineering notebook.
    • The students will be able to use the VEXnet system to successfully control their robot in a classroom challenge.

  • 3.1: VEX ARM® Cortex®-based Microcontroller


  • Beanbag Challenge #2


    Robotics 2

  • This topic
  • Balloon Pop Challenge #4


  • 3.2: VEXnet Joystick

    Although many robots are designed to operate autonomously, there are often situations where manual control of a robot is necessary. The VEXnet Joystick allows a human operator to control a robot in real-time using the innovative VEXnet Wireless link. The human operator sends commands to the robot by interacting with the buttons and joysticks on the VEXnet Joystick. These commands are sent to the Cortex Microcontroller via VEXnet signals through a VEXnet USB Adapter Key to one attached to a microcontroller on a VEX robot. The joystick has two 2-axis analog joysticks, four trigger buttons and two 4-button directional pads. It also has an accelerometer that provides X-Y tilt outputs. This allows you to control an arm or drive system by changing the orientation of the joystick (tilting).

  • 3.3: VEXnet Wireless Link

    The VEX Cortex Microcontroller uses a wireless link for communications through a proprietary VEXnet implementation. This implementation is designed to eliminate the need for any knowledge of IP addresses, MAC addresses, security settings, and IP protocols. Just turn it on and it automatically connects to the correct Joystick.

    The VEXnet implementation utilizes wireless communication within the 2.4 GHz frequency band. Using this type of wireless communication allows huge amounts of data to be instantly transmitted back and forth between a VEXnet Joystick and a VEX Cortex Microcontroller. In the past, the only way to securely and reliably transmit such a large volume of data was by the use of wires and cables. However, this would not be conducive in many robotic applications. VEXnet allows users to gain complete and instantaneous wireless control.

    Setting up the VEXnet Wireless Link

    Refer to the Cortex Microcontroller and VEXnet Joystick User Guide to setup the VEXnet Wireless Link. This document is a very valuable resource when working with any VEX robot. Make sure to read it thoroughly and keep a copy handy. It includes many troubleshooting tips.

    • Pair VEX Cortex Microcontroller and VEXnet Joystick. This procedure is detailed in Step 1 of the User Guide. 

  • 3.4: Wiring and Configuring a VEX Robot

    In Unit 2, the mechanical construction of the VEX Clawbot was completed. The next steps are to hook up the VEX Cortex Microcontroller and VEXnet Joystick to get the robot fully operational.