Robotics at Notre Dame: Who We Are

We have after-school robotics offerings for K-12 grades.  The use of robotics in education has grown rapidly over the past several years and offers benefits at every level.  Robotics programs create interest in STEM education and careers and we are strengthening the STEM pipeline beginning with our youngest learners.  

K-2: VEX IQ Mini-BOTS – This after-school program is an introduction to the Engineering Design Process through literature, testing of tools and a building project.  The goals of this program are for the students to become familiar with the VEX IQ product, robotics terminology, supplies and aspects of designing something to meet an objective, and problem-solving all before they are old enough to be on the robotics team. 

The after-school program combines an engineered themed book with a testing and building project that follows the engineering design process. 

The students also get to drive robots!   

3rd – 5th VEX IQ Robotics Teams – VEX IQ is a world-wide robotics program for 3rd – 8th grades. The robotics season starts in the fall with the introduction of a new game challenge. Students work in small groups (3-4 students) to design, build, program, and compete with their own robot to meet the new challenge.  Competitions include teamwork skills, driving skills, programming skills, and a review of the teams’ engineering design notebook. The teamwork skills aspect of the competition requires teams to collaborate with another team at the event.  They need to form an alliance and quickly work together to score as many points as possible while driving their robots.  Teams also have a chance to drive their robots without a partner, this is called driving skills and this tests the teams’ ability to create and execute a game strategy.  Programming skills is an individual team event that showcases the teams’ use of computer programming to create an autonomous routine for the robot to play the game challenge and score points.  The last component of the robotics competition is a judges review of the teams’ engineering design notebook and interview of the teams’ knowledge of the engineering design process.  The notebook is written in at every team meeting to document the engineering design process.   Once the qualification matches are done, the teams will be ranked based on their robots performance and teams will be assigned an alliance partner for the final match.  The high scoring alliance in the final match are the teamwork champions of the event. Teams compete in at least 2 local events and can qualify for the VEX IQ State Championship and the VEX IQ World Championship.

6th – 7th VEX IQ Robotics Teams – The middle school teams follow the same format as the elementary school teams.  At this level the students are more independent and focus more on design and strategy.

8th VEX Robotics Teams – VEX Robotics Competition (VRC) is a world-wide program for middle and high school students that has as its goal to engage student participants in the study of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) through a competition in which students build innovative robots to solve a challenge.  The competitions are 2 robots v. 2 robots, each team has an alliance partner and 2 opponents.  Each match also starts out with an autonomous period and then switches to a driver-controlled period so they need to build an autonomous routine into their match play.  Teams have different partners and opponents for each match so a partner in your first match could be an opponent in your second one.  At the end of qualification matches, teams are ranked based on their robots performance and alliances are chosen with up to 16 alliance partners qualifying for the play-off round. The alliances have to win each match to move on.  The brackets go from main to quarter finals, semi-finals to finals.  Teams attend 2 local events and can qualify for the VRC State Championship and the VRC World Championship.

9th – 12th VEX Robotics Teams – The VRC high school teams follow the same format at the 8th grade teams.  

9th – 12th OCCRA (Oakland County Competitive Robotics Association) League – OCCRA is a fall league open to high schools in Oakland County.  The program consists of 4 local events and a county championship.  

9th – 12th FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics (FRC) – FIRST Robotics is an international high school robotics program that models real-world engineering experiences with a 6 -week build season followed by a competition season. The Killer Bees are one of the founding teams in Michigan having been actively building and competing since 1996. 

We are fortunate to have a partnership with FCA (Fiat Chrysler Automotive) for our FIRST robotics team.  Our lead mentors work as Engineers at FCA and our students meet at FCA to design, build, program, and test the robot.   

We have an application / interview process in the fall to recruit and accept new members.   

The 6-week build season starts the first Saturday in January with a world-wide game challenge unveiling. Students and mentors quickly begin to brainstorm design ideas for the challenge and get to work on the building, testing, and programming phases.   

The competition season consists of 2 or 3 events that are structured with a random 3 robots v. 3 robots qualification match schedule. Each match starts with an autonomous period followed by a driver-controlled period. Teams can be an alliance partner for one match and an opponent in the next.  Teams are ranked after the qualification matches are complete and an alliance selection process begins for the play-off round of matches.  The highest ranked team can choose their alliance partner from any of the teams present at the event.  At the end of the bracketed matches, the 3-team alliance that wins the final round are the event champions.