A group of Copperfield College students have designed and engineered themselves all the way to robotics national championship titles – now they’re ready to test their machines against the best in the world.

The college’s Vex Robotics club was started four years ago and has grown strongly in both participation and performance, culminating in wins in December’s national championships in Melbourne.

The wins – Tournament Champions and Excellence Award (High School) – have gained the team entry into the world championships in Kentucky in April.

Team captain Spencer Vaughan said the growth of the program and the changes in their robotics and design work had been staggering.

“You can see this wave and trend of improvement and growth in the build quality, the programming and the teamwork over time,” he said.

“Every year it gets better and better. We think what we have now is pretty good, but we always have to look for ways to make it better and try and stay ahead of the curve.”

While teachers are able to help out in small ways, projects are designed and led by the students, with a team of designers helping in the early planning stages and then the whole group working to build, improve and then drive the robot.

Team member Anthony Le said the knowledge within the team was its biggest asset when it came time to compete.

“We tried a lot of things in the early days, and we now have a lot of knowledge of what is good and what is not,” he said. “We contacted a lot of teams from other countries and started to gather knowledge about how they do things … what we have now is a hundred times better than what we started with.”

While Vex Robotics has a relatively small community in Australia, it is a big deal internationally, particularly in the US where thousands of teams are involved.

Spencer said it would be an exciting challenge to test their machines against the best.

“There’s hundreds of teams in each state over there trying to get to this point, so the standard will be very high,” he said. “The stuff they do over there is different to what we’ve encountered here, so we’ll definitely have to up our game in order to compete.”

The team is looking for sponsors to help subsidise the Kentucky trip and give it the best chance of success.

Anyone interested in contributing can contact the school on palladino.belinda.m@edumail.vic.gov.au or 9307 5514.