Jaw-Dropping Number of Cranberry Students Qualify for VEX Worlds

Student contributor

On Saturday, Feb. 26, a record number of Cranberry High Schools students who competed at the state level of VEX IQ qualified for the VEX IQ World Championship, which is scheduled to be held in Dallas, Texas.

In total, 4 teams consisting of 18 8th graders managed to snag a spot at VEX Worlds. These students include Mariner Perry, Wil Heffernan, Cole Findlay, Hunter Montgomery, Aaiden Riedel, Caleb Seybert, Isaiah Johnson, Jack Nuhfer, Andrew Knight, Jadyn Shumaker, Raquel Knight, Taylor Hepler, Kallie Mong, Jakub Ishman, Cooper Grams, Jude Vogan, Parker Findlay, and Conner Zerbe.

Going into the competition, both students and staff alike were nervous yet optimistic, and clearly, everyone’s expectations were exceeded.

“In previous years, our teams just didn’t have the luck due to COVID-19, and last year, we couldn’t even compete. Worlds was one of those things where I’ve really wanted to go since starting, and finally having the opportunity to take multiple teams is very exciting,” Dan O’Brien, one of the advisors for VEX, explained.

As said by Jadyn Shumaker, member of team Titanium Titans, “Our team really didn’t expect to perform this well because we placed 24th in our last competition… We weren’t expecting much, but I’m really happy! We’ve put so much time, effort, and many headaches into the robot, and it’s a relief knowing that we are going somewhere other than Pennsylvania.”

Since early November, students in O’Brien’s Intro to Engineering and Technology class have been tackling the robotics unit. Competitions for VEX IQ typically begin during late January, and as a result of the low number of teams present in western Pennsylvania, students who performed well in previous competitions could skip Regionals and move straight into VEX IQ States.

While in Dallas, the Cranberry students will be competing for a period of three days against people from all around the world. The competition will surely be stiff, but many team members have expressed their optimism while also going on to describe the changes they plan to implement, such as the addition of hanging mechanisms and improved autonomous programming.

“Our goal for beginning this entire program at Cranberry was to provide students with a learning opportunity that would teach students skills that they would need out in the workplace, and I really feel like we definitely reached that mark and actually exceeded our own expectations. So, the plan for the future is to continue to improve and just make the program more efficient and better for the students that are coming through,” O’Brien stated.

The qualifying teams also extended a special thank you to both O’Brien and teacher Zach Bedee for dedicating countless hours after school for VEX IQ, which certainly played a role in this massive success.


Hannah Niederriter is a student at Cranberry High School and a member of Cranberry Chronicles, the school’s journalism/publications class.