Wed. Dec 6th, 2023
    Rossum Rumblers’ PYRO Team Pushes the Boundaries of VEX U Robotics

    Arizona State University’s VEX Robotics team, PYRO, recently made waves at the 2023 World Championship with their innovative and award-winning robot designs. As part of the Rossum Rumblers student robotics club, PYRO has been competing in VEX U collegiate competitions since 2014, consistently pushing the limits of robotics engineering.

    VEX Robotics provides educational robot components and hosts an annual competition series for students of all ages. Each year, participants are challenged to design and build robots that compete for top honors and additional awards.

    The Rossum Rumblers club, based on ASU’s Polytechnic campus, offers a platform for students to apply their classroom skills in a more relaxed environment. According to Kenneth Hodson, the club’s president, this experience prepares students for their future careers.

    The PYRO team, within Rossum Rumblers, has achieved robotics engineering excellence by participating in VEX U competitions against more than 300 teams from around the world. During the 2022-23 season, PYRO received numerous awards for their innovative designs.

    The Innovation Behind PYRO’s Success

    One of PYRO’s standout robots for the 2022-23 season was the Air Blast, which competed in the Spin Up challenge. This challenge involved launching discs into goals within a small arena.

    To gain an advantage, the PYRO team carefully interpreted the rules and designed Air Blast to use explosive blasts of pressurized air to knock opponents’ scored discs from the goals. Inspired by a rocket launcher, the team modified the concept and integrated it into their robot.

    The Air Blast robot utilized an air tank measuring five gallons, significantly larger than typical VEX robots, to generate the necessary burst of pressurized air. By strategically timing the release of the compressed air, the robot was able to fling the game discs with force and accuracy.

    Engineering in Silence

    The PYRO team kept the design of the Air Blast robot a secret until its debut at the World Championship. The team’s lead builder, Brian Hou, explains that they wanted to ensure their game-changing idea remained confidential and exclusive to their team.

    Despite the unique design and complexity of the robot, the programming process was relatively straightforward. Charles Jeffries, the team’s lead programmer, focused on coordinating the timing of the motors that control the pressure valve for optimum release force.

    Achieving Success on Multiple Fronts

    In addition to the Build Award, which recognized the design of the Air Blast robot, PYRO also won the Design Award and the CAD Engineering Challenge award. These awards showcase the team’s attention to detail, engineering skills, and ingenuity in creating custom mechanisms for VEX robots using computer-aided design.

    Overall, PYRO’s success highlights the immense talent and dedication of the Rossum Rumblers team at ASU. By pushing the boundaries of robotics engineering, they continue to advance the field and inspire future generations of roboticists.


    1. How long has PYRO been participating in VEX U competitions?

    PYRO has been participating in VEX U competitions since 2014.

    2. How did PYRO’s Air Blast robot gain an advantage in the Spin Up challenge?

    The Air Blast robot utilized explosive blasts of pressurized air to knock opponents’ scored discs from the goals, giving PYRO an advantage in the competition.

    3. What awards did PYRO win during the 2022-23 season?

    PYRO won the Design Award, CAD Engineering Challenge award, and the Build Award.

    4. How did PYRO keep the design of the Air Blast robot a secret?

    The team built the Air Blast robot in complete silence to prevent other teams from catching wind of their game-changing concept and replicating it.

    5. What was the role of Charles Jeffries in the PYRO team?

    Charles Jeffries served as the lead programmer and was responsible for coordinating the timing of the motors controlling the pressure valve in the Air Blast robot.