Vermillion Area Robotics Club

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After 5 years of running teams out of garages and basements, VARA has leased space in downtown Vermillion!  We are excited to see the opportunities this new space presents for our organization.


Thirty youth from SE SD joined VARC coaches and youth during the June/July camps to build "Flex".   They also programmed the remote and sensors to include a rainbow of color, flashing lights, and sound!  It was pretty cool.

Team 1008C captured 2 trophies at VEX Worlds by winning the Innovate Award and 3rd place (with team 1550C) in the finals of the Science Division.  The Innovate Award recognizes a team’s ability to implement an effective and efficient robot design process that is well-documented in their engineering notebook and communicated through the judged interview process.

Congrats to team 1008X for their combined score of 176 in Robot Sills (both driver and programming skills)!!! Your team ended the season ranked 12th in the world out of 1836 VEX VRC Middle School teams world-wide!  Your team also placed 3rd at the US Open Robotics Championship and 7th place at VEX Worlds in Robot Skills!!

5 SEATS TO VEX WORLDS (Louisville, KY) and
5 SEATS TO THE CREATE U.S. OPEN (Council Bluffs, IA)!!!

VARC competed in the SD State VEX Robotics Championship on February 24th and earned seats to VEX Worlds!

Team 1008M  HS VRC Excellence Award, Tournament Champion (in alliance with 7686A Harrisburg), Robot Skills Finalist

Team 1008X  Middle School VRC Excellence Award, Robot Skills Champion, Tournament Finalist (in alliance with 1563C Rapid City) They ended their season ranked 12th in world in Robot Skills score!!!! 

Team 1008C  Middle School IQ Excellence Award, Robot Skills Champion, Teamwork Champion (in alliance with team 81760A Brandon Valley)

Team 1008B  Elementary IQ Excellence Award, Robot Skills Finalist, Teamwork Finalist (in alliance with team 11358A Harrisburg)

Team 1008E  Due to a double worlds-qualification, the next highest posted skills score by a middle school team in SD earned a seat to represent SD at worlds and that was team 1008E!

Vermillion Area Robotics was recently featured on KSFY and SD Public Broadcasting.

KSFY January 26, 2018 Here's the link!

SD Public Broadcasting Listen here!

KSFY March 7, 2018 See Here's the link!

Congrats to team 1008M for scoring 152 points in an alliance qualification match with 1970K Knight Shift at the Omaha Benson competition January 13th!  This is currently the 15th highest match score in the world!  

Congratulations to Emily for winning 3rd place in the  4‑H Tech Changemaker Contest sponsored by Microsoft!! 

Emily purchased a VEX IQ Super kit  and has loaned the kit out to St. Cecilia School in Omaha, NE for a first-year VEX IQ team! 

THANK YOU area businesses, organizations, and community members for supporting our robotics youth this season.  We could not have done it without you!  Thank you City of Vermillion for issuing a proclamation recognizing our club for their accomplishments.

VARC youth designed children's hospital gowns with a robot theme for the Starlight Children's Foundation contest. Michaels Stores donated a $25 Starlight Gown to a hospitalized kid for every design submitted and our robotics club submitted 8 designs (10 gowns donated)! Jon of team 1008C  was also named a semi-finalist. :-)

THANK YOU NASA South Dakota Space Grant Consortium for awarding our robotics club a Daniel Swets  materials grant! The grant money awarded purchased 2 VEX VRC competition fields and 3 control units to be used for next winter's Vermillion Competition.   Dr. Swets, founder of the South Dakota Robotics Association, saw the value of robotics in recruiting students into science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) at an early age but lost his life in an airplane crash in 2011.  The grant is awarded in his memory to continue the robotics tradition in SD.

Thank you Robotics Education and Competition Foundation (RECF), USD, Masaba, Vermillion Chamber of Commerce, and VARC youth/families for helping our robotics club host the VEX IQ Coyote Challenge!  It was a great success!

VARC teams submitted entries into the 2018 RECF Online Challenges.  Caleb from team 1008B was named a finalist in Autodesk's  “Make It Real CAD Engineering Challenge”.  He designed a new VEX IQ part using CAD. See his entry here.


Our lives revolve around technology and our mission is to inspire youth in SE SD to be tomorrow's leaders in computer programming, robotics, analytical problem-solving, and engineering. We will work to form computer programming, engineering, robotics,  and STEM programs in our schools and community. 

We encourage our robotics youth to....

...gain experience in computer programming, analytical thinking, designing/building, setting long-range timelines, team and personal goals, and utilizing teamwork while building the world's most amazing robots!

...have teams that consistently incorporate new technology, ideas, science and math, and the engineering design process into the design of their robot every year.

...grow as team members by learning something  new (CAD, programming, design) every year to  enhance your team's experience and your personal growth.

...visit industry that utilizes robotics and other advanced technology, and/or employs engineers.

...inspire other youth to pursue robotics through presentations, open houses, camps, mentoring of younger youth, non-competitive robotics exploration, and volunteering at robotics events. and fundraise for their robotics hardware and team event fees.

VARC visited Fischer Sanitation to learn about their robotic arm!

VARC attended the Raven Engineering Career Day January 26th.  It was really neat learning about the products they manufacture and talking with engineers about the work they do. Did you know they manufacture many of Macy's parade balloons?

VARC visited Polaris for National Engineering Week.

VARC visited the Plucker Dairy Farm.  They run their entire dairy milking operation using robotics. It was neat to see how robotics technology is revolutionizing our SD farms. The youth also visited their local 4-H office and learned about the chemistry behind cheese-making by making cheese.