Restricting or allowing using non vex made parts

So my question is out of curiosity do people think using non vex made parts or not using them create more creativity in vex. If there is another topic on this I had no clue but answer away.

I think by allowing others to use non made vex parts, it definitely does increase creativity because people have a wider range of materials to work with and that can lead to some very interesting designs and contraptions. As well as allowing people to find creative ways to make a certain component while still remaining in their budget.


While it definitely could allow certain teams to make different components while staying in whatever budget they may have, I also think it may widen the gap between teams that have a large budget compared to teams without, as the teams with more money could spend more on whatever to give themselves a potential advantage, while the teams with less money wouldn’t be able to keep up as well.


I agree with this point. It could definitely create a big gap


As a person who did Vex and FIRST robotics, both are very good examples of each. Vex does have a length of build restriction while FIRST has very few they need to follow.

Yes, one is cheap the other not so much.
The creativity for FIRST is higher because the resources that teams are allowed to use are a lot, while Vex has a standard part list a team can use. There is a good life lesson that can be learned from having a certain set of requirements to work with. In engineering jobs, people have to work around time, money, people, equipment, and other things around them. They sometimes can’t find a new person or afford a new tool to get the job done, so they get creative with what they have around them. I think that is what Vex is trying to teach people.

An actual example is Apollo 13. NASA engineers had to solve the problem of reducing the carbon dioxide for the astronauts with only the spare parts on the space craft. They had a set of parts. They had to get creative with the items on hand. I think Vex is trying to teach that same thing, there is a box of parts, but what to build with those parts is up to your imagination.

I haven’t stop seeing ideas coming out of people yet, so I don’t see a reason why they would change now. I do wish they let teams use pneumatic with 8 motors though.


It is a very interesting question, whether the limited selection of parts inhibits or enhances educational process and creativity.

Certainly, if the selection is very restrictive, you will have hard time building anything useful and such task will have very little resemblance to the real world of engineering.

On the other hand, if you have virtually unlimited selection of parts available to you, there is a view that it tends to take away the focus from the learning how to solve a problem with a number of competing constraints, which is what engineering is mostly about.

An award winning mathematician Cédric Villani thinks that “Constraint forces you to get beyond obstacle” and it is one of the 7 Ingredients of Creativity

Here is a longer video of his lecture Birth of a Theorem - with CĂ©dric Villani

Sometimes, students could feel frustrated that if they could only get a screw that is just .5" longer than the 2" VRC limit (and which is readily available at their local hardware store or from McMaster) then their build could be so much simplified. But I think, that it might be more beneficial for their learning in the long run to have that constraint and force them to think more creatively.

Also, not everyone may know that CREATE Foundation runs an Open Division based on VRC game and control system, but allowing wide range of additional materials.

I had a privilege to be on the judging team for Open Division Championship during Turning Point season and came across some amazing robots like this beauty:


Yes, it is a DR4B built out of the wood! Another view here and more info on 5155Z team website .

Another team C2525Z had a very impressive and unique robot with many innovative solutions and custom built subsystems, even including remote control, iirc:

However, the division championship was won by the very much meta double ball catapult. And the only non-VRC legal part they had, was the long rubber band with better elastic characteristics.

My guess is that only a few teams like 5155Z and 2525Z had realized educational benefits of deeply exploring custom electronics and alternative material fabrication, but for many other teams unlimited component choice was distraction from focusing on the design cycle for the core robot functionality and driving practice.

As much as I would like to see wider part selection, I got to agree with GDC that it should be reserved for more advanced VEXU and VAIC teams, while MS and HS teams are likely to benefit more by focusing on learning the design process and basics of the mechanical engineering in somewhat constrained environment.


I do agree with you regarding the pneumatics. It has a lot more potential than most people give it credit, and with the eight motor limit, I think it should be allowed, with more documentation for it to be usable for beginners or experienced teams.

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