“STEM and cyber education is an important aspect of the Junior ROTC program. As technology continues to develop and evolve, the need for specialized skills in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, cyber, and medical fields is increasing. The military, along with civilian organizations requires professionals with these critical skills. “ - Major General John R. Evans, Jr., Commanding General, U.S. Army Cadet Command.
OMAHA, NE -- Recently JROTC instructors from Omaha Central, Omaha North and Omaha South took part in Vex Robotics training conducted by Jeremy Wiemer and Jeffrey Erixon at the Omaha North Robotics Labs. Mr. Erixon is the OPS Lead Teacher for Career and Technical Education and he explained that “VEX Robotics is educational robotics for everyone. VEX solutions span all levels of both formal and informal education with accessible, scalable, and affordable solutions. Beyond science and engineering principles, VEX encourages creativity, teamwork, leadership, and problem solving among groups.”
Jeremy and Jeff have instructed robotics in the Omaha Public school system for years. Vex teams in the Metro area have won multiple State tiles and have traveled to China to represent Nebraska at the VEX Robotics World Championships. Championship banners on the wall showcased the student’s level of excellence.
Omaha Junior ROTC cadets will now have the opportunity to participate in a variety of STEM programs to include Cyber Patriot and Vex Robots. The VEX Robotics program is designed to develop and enhance problem solving and stimulate STEM skills in youth. Over $100,000 of robotic kits were purchased from VEX Robotics and included hundreds of components allowing a wide variety of prototype designs to be constructed to complete the assigned task as determined by Vex each year at the World Championship.
Jeremy gave a quick overview of the competition, “Teams will participate in number of matches during the day in which the first is a 15 second Autonomous; the 2nd is 1:45 Driver Control. Next the participant will do a Skills Challenge where 1 robot gets 1 minute to complete either a driver control period or an autonomous. Score as many points as possible. Judging includes team interviews and engineering notebooks.”
Command Sergeant Major Dwaine Sutter of Omaha Central is excited about the opportunity for his Central cadets to participate in Vex robotics. “The opportunity for cadets to work together as a team on unstructured problems and develop solutions in a timed environment will help develop them for future careers.”
Select OPS Army Junior ROTC programs will also participate in the CyberPatriot program. CyberPatriot, created by the Air Force Association in 2009 for Air Force Junior ROTC cadets, expanded to all services in 2010. Participating teams develop projects on cyber systems for industry, commerce, public safety, communications, and national defense. Army Junior ROTC had 257 teams registered to participate in CyberPatriot XI (2019), who competed to qualify for the National Finals Competition in Baltimore, Maryland. Omaha Benson and Northwest will be the first two JROTC teams to compete in 2021.