What is new in Vex U?

I am a senior who has competed in Vex robotics throughout high school, and hopefully I will continue to in college. I was wondering some of the big differences in vrc and vex u as far as how things are designed and built as well as different competitions. I realize that just like how many high school teams have different set ups, the way things are run probably depends on the college. Regardless of this, I (and probably other seniors) would appreciate any tips or advice regarding the differences in the transition to Vex U.

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Here are the major changes:

  1. You build 2 robots instead of 1. This means that you can form a much more specific match strategy since you know always who your partner robot will be.

  2. There is A LOT more freedom on building your robot. 3D printing, machining, etc etc pretty much whatever you want goes. All of our robots have a lot of 3D prints this year (some are a majority PLA over vex materials). To top this off, there is no motor limit, so you can really do anything.

  3. Importance/freedom of software. In VEXU, the autonomous period is 45 seconds instead of 15. That is over a third of the match, where as in highschool it is an eighth. Because of how much larger of an influence it is supposed to have, custom electronics/sensors are allowed. Raspberry Pis, Arduinos, etc are all allowed. Our team has a machine learning model for identifying and tracking the goals this year. The only rule to worry about is that you must use VEX V5 Motors, and VEX V5 Motors must be powered and controlled by the V5 brain.

On the competition side, here is both a positive and a negative: There are very few VEXU teams compared to highschool and middle school. This means that competitions are a lot less frequent, and you will have to travel a lot farther to get there. Our team (Purdue BLRS, based in West Lafayette, Indiana) traveled to competitions in Michigan, Illinois, and Kentucky this season. If you enjoy traveling and seeing new places, this is a plus. If not, that is unfortunate. There are no “state” competitions for VEXU, rather the regional events will often be worlds qualifying if enough teams register. Because of how few worlds qualifying tournaments there are, a lot of teams are invited from the skills list. This means even if you don’t win a competition, if you put up a good skills score there is a good chance of you going to worlds. I believe a higher percentage of VEXU teams go to worlds than HS/MS VRC.

Hope this helps, let me know if you have any other questions.

  • Ben, team BLRS

I’ll speak as a faculty advisor and give my observations from the MCCC U-team, but realize that all U-teams are unique. Some are well funded (the MCCC U-team is backed by the Team VIRUS organization, so there is no lack of resources for them), others are unfunded (we helped the University of Toledo get their team started…they had nothing, no funding, and no support other than a storage closet, I believe), and many are somewhere in between.

The biggest difference I saw of our HS students moving to U-team was the difficulty balancing schoolwork (which comes first) and robotics work. Typically, our U-team did building only on Saturdays, but that only began after weeks of planning and CAD…so building didn’t generally start until November/December. Many Fridays/Saturdays were given to setup and being referees at HS/MS/ES events, as well as other community-service projects, and some U-team members came in during weeknights to help mentor our ES/MS/HS teams (all stuff that helps earn an Excellence award).

Competition is also different. It’s a little hard to describe…but think of it as friendlier…like playing golf with friends, each team working to do their personal best. You’ll likely have only one or two competitions (and might have to travel 4-6 hours + hotel stay), and the past few years, you can plan on going to worlds if you have a fairly decent bot, since there are not a lot of U-teams and plenty of World’s slots (there are no State championships in VEX-U).


vrc student talking- there’s not a lot of information out there for vex U, it seems to be more competitive, we don’t see robot reveals and stuff. but one thing that i see being a mandatory skill for vex U is CAD. so I would recommend learning that.

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