Students in the Weisberg Division of Computer Science in Marshall University’s College of Information Technology and Engineering have teamed up with students at St. Joseph Catholic Schools to participate in the VEX Robotics Competition. The first year was so successful that students at the grade school and middle school levels advanced to the World Championship earlier this month.

Under the leadership of Dr. Wook-Sung Yoo, chair of the Weisberg Division of Computer Science; Dr. Paulus Wahjudi, an associate professor of computer science; and St. Joe Principal Carol Templeton, the program was brought to life by St. Joe teachers Erika Maynard and Holly Moore and computer science students from Marshall.

The aim was to foster collaboration between the school and Marshall to inspire and expose children at a younger age to computer science, Templeton said. VEX Robotics is a robust computer programming and coding challenge. Through this game-based challenge, students learn more than engineering and problem-solving skills, they learn teamwork. About 35 St. Joe students began last fall meeting weekly for two hours with Marshall faculty and about six Marshall undergraduate students. There was so much interest that St. Joe had to cap participation.

Regional and state tournaments were held, culminating with the VEX Robotics World Championship in the spring. All six teams that were formed at St. Joe advanced to the state competition, and two teams won a state championship and advanced to the world competition earlier this month in Louisville. About 1,500 teams from 60 countries competed in the world championships.

“We didn’t come back with trophies, but we did come back with an amazing experience,” Templeton said. “We will continue with VEX Robotics next year. We have students eager to participate and we have summer workshops already planned with Marshall’s help. They’re super excited about next year because now they know what they need to do to enhance their robots. They have an idea of what they’re really up against now.

“I’m proud of our students, our teachers and the collaboration between St. Joe and Marshall,” Templeton said. “It shows that when you pull collaboratively what you can achieve. If it was not for Marshall University’s help, we would not be where we are.”

Dr. Wael Zatar, dean of the College of Information Technology and Engineering, said he is very supportive of this effort.

“It is an excellent way for us to collaborate to advance the student knowledge in robotics,” he said.

Marshall will host a “Computer Science Adventure Zone: Coding Robots” for fifth- through 12th graders from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. June 18-22 in Room 2119 of the Weisberg Family Applied Engineering Complex.  Cost is $99 per student, with need-based financial assistance available.

Register at or contact Dr. Husnu Narman,, or Meaghan Buckland,, by e-mail for more information.

For details of VEX competition, visit

(From Jean Hardiman for Marshall University Communications).