A trip to California is also at stake for the winners of the robotics championship being held in Cork.
Last year, students from Davis College in Mallow, Co Cork, represented Ireland at the Vex world championships, and 14 teams from 10 schools are in the running to follow in their footsteps.
The local event is run by US multinational EMC, which has 3,000 employees in Ireland and whose general manager in this country Bob Savage chairs the governing body of Cork Institute of Technology (CIT).
The college will host Friday’s competition, where students must display not just quality robot design and build, but also excellence in other areas.
With the assistance of a mentor from EMC, each group has spent the past three months designing, building, programming, and testing their robots.
“The Vex initiative draws together teaching, learning and technology in a way that students can relate to and enjoy,” said Tim Kerins, teacher at Deerpark CBS in Cork City.
“Technology is increasingly defining how we live and how we teach, and we found that getting students to build robots was an innovative and practical way for them to apply their classroom learning.”
The initiative is designed to boost interest in science, tech-nology, engineering, and maths (STEM) subjects among second-level students around the world.
The other participating teams are from city schools North Monastery CBS, Bishopstown Community School, and Nagle Community College, and from the county: Davis College, Mallow; McEgan College in Macroom; St Colman’s Community College in Midleton; Buttevant’s Coláiste Pobal Naomh Mhuire; Ballincollig Community School; Coláiste Choilm, Ballincollig; and a coder dojo CIT team from Bishopstown.
As well as the excellence award, which includes the trip to California in the spring, prizes are up for grabs for tournament champions, design and sportsmanship, and a volunteer of the year will also be awarded.
“The competition teaches the basics of science and technology skills, that have never been more important, in a fun and sporting environment, while offering schools a chance to showcase Ireland’s new engineering talent to the world,” said Vex Robotics leader and EMC programme manager Martin O’Flaherty.