One of the most successful Vex Robotics Competition teams ever has a unique aspect – it has only one member. Joshua Wade, from Orwell, OH, the sole member of Team 1103, went on to become 2010 Vex Robotics Programming Skills Challenge World Champion and the 2011 Vex Robotics National Champion.
What helped Josh become so successful? One of the tools in Joshua’s arsenal was easyC, Intelitek’s intuitive robotic programming software. With it he accomplished some exceptional robotic programming feats. We asked Josh to give us his perspective on his accomplishments.
What got you interested in VEX Robotics?
Even at a very young age, I had an interest in robotics and engineering. In 2006, when I was 12 years old, my Dad bought me an original VEX starter kit for Christmas. I can say without a doubt that it was the best Christmas present I ever received. Over the next few years I received several additional VEX kits and spent a great deal of time programming the hobbyist robots that I designed.
How did you develop your programming skills?
When I was 14, having worked with VEX robots for about a year, I was introduced to programming VEX robots. At that time, programming in general was completely new to me. I found easyC to be very user-friendly and quickly learned how to write basic programs. Though programming always came very naturally to me, I spent a great deal of time working with easyC before I was able to write more advanced programs.
How did you come up with your design? What were some other ideas you had?
Before starting on my 2010-2011 robot, I spent many long hours at the drawing board considering various design concepts. Early on I knew that I wanted a purely-vertical lifting mechanism. I did consider using a scissor
lift but later rejected that idea in favor of the chained linear slide lift that I had thought of following the 2010 VRC World Championships.
Because I was very interested in the two skills challenges, particularly the Programming Skills, a claw seemed like the best choice for actually manipulating the tubes. The inspiration for the passive high hanging mechanism actually came from rock climbing equipment. I needed a hook that would easily attach to the side of the Ladder even if the base of the robot was imperfectly positioned. The idea to tilt the lift mechanism using pneumatic pistons came after seeing a similar tilting mechanism on a forklift.
How much time did you spend working on your robot?
I began building my VEX Round Up robot in August of 2010. Throughout the competition season I worked 30-40 hours a week building, programming and practicing with the robot. By April of 2011, I had logged roughly 1200 hours.
What are your plans for the future?
In college I would like to take mechanical engineering with a minor in computer science. Right now I am considering Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta. After college I plan to go into robotics.
As the sole member of one of the most successful VRC teams ever, what advice do you have for other students who participate in the program?
I feel that the most important advice I can give to another is to work hard and be committed. To quote Thomas Edison, “Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration.”
Team 1103 is a great example of the unlimited potential students have when engaged and motivated by their educational environment. Joshua’s success also shows that competitive robotics is an excellent way to provide that environment for more students!