MSOE is officially home to world champions. The MSOE Raider Robotics team took home the Excellence Award from the Vex U World Championship. The Excellence Award is the highest award in the competition and given to the team that exemplifies overall excellence across their robot, software, documentation and overall team. MSOE Raider Robotics also tied for first in the U.S. and fourth in the world with their 60-second programming routine, placing higher than more than 70 other universities from around the world.

The team stood out from the rest due to their achievements as one of the first teams in the world to integrate Robot Operating System (ROS) into the VES platform, their extensive use of agile development in mechanical and software sub teams, as well as unique mechanism designs new to Vex.

Unlike many of the other seasoned veterans they competed against, the Raider Robotics is a fairly new team with only two years of experience under its belt. It is the only team from Wisconsin to ever receive the Excellence Award and one of the first teams to win this award in its initial two years of existence.

“Our team really has a unique story compared to some others we’ve competed against. This team was founded two years ago by a small group of students, out of an RWJ dorm room, so students could get involved in a fun team to learn more about robots,” said Nathan DuPont, Raider Robotics team lead. “Our team has some awesome people that have spent tons of time in order to bring an incredible learning opportunity to the students at MSOE, built from concepts and practices grown in the classroom and at internships our students have gotten through MSOE.” 

The competition challenged the team to control their robot using on-board sensors and software to allow the robot to navigate, avoid obstacles and score points by placing six-inch balls into cylindrical goals around the 12-foot field.

The team met online and in person for the past year to develop the robot hardware and software, which they got fully working one week before the World Championship.

“All the mechanisms on the robot were designed, tested and manufactured by our students to accomplish specific goals on our robot,” said DuPont. “On the software side, we also took on the task of developing a completely new framework to the competition, adapting our collegiate robotics platform to ROS, pulling us closer to the capabilities of industrial robots and using technologies found in large companies such as ABB, Amazon and NVIDIA.”

Although the competition was virtual and the team was remote for the awards ceremony, seeing other teams cheering and clapping from around the world was an unforgettable experience for the Raider Robotics.

“Winning the Excellence Award was the best part. Being recognized as a truly ‘excellent’ robotics program on the worldwide stage after only two years of being a student organization is still crazy to think about, and really shows that we’re doing a lot right,” said DuPont. “Even before we were given the Excellence Award and being recognized for our high-quality performance, we ended the season with all smiles after seeing everything work better than we could have imagined.”  

As World Champions, the team automatically qualifies for the 2022 World Championship in Houston next year and hopes to clinch another title. They plan to continue to improve their robot and actively volunteer on campus to bring fun robotics opportunities to students. They also welcome any MSOE students to join their team.

“We’re always looking for more people to join us! We’re just a group of students who love to make and break things and challenge each other to learn lots about topics we love.” MSOE student interested in joining and learning more may join the Raider Robotics Slack at  

Raider Robotics 2020-2021 team members: 

  • Joey Carey, mechanical engineering 
  • Alex Kempen, mechanical engineering
  • Andrew Kempen, electrical engineering
  • Brian Kim, mechanical engineering
  • Daniel Gottfried, mechanical engineering
  • Dylan Powers, computer science
  • Everen Wegner, biomolecular engineering
  • James Siedschlag, mechanical engineering
  • Joe Weller, computer science
  • Jonathan Phung, computer science
  • JP Bunn, computer engineering/computer science
  • Keller Resh, mechanical engineering
  • Nathan DuPont, computer science
  • Nathan Johnson, mechanical engineering
  • Quinten Robley, computer science
  • Trenton Bowser, computer science