The We R4 Creating Vex IQ Robotics team won the New Mexico State Vex IQ Competition on March 10 and has qualified for the World Championships.

R4 Creating, originally known as the Rio Rancho Robo Runners, has been offering championship STEM/STEAM programming since 2005 . R4 is located in Rio Rancho at the career training center on Sara Road.

Courtesy photo
Shelly Gruenig and Nate Raynor, coach of Mescalero Apache pose with students during the New Mexico State VEX competition.

With their 18th State Championship trophy in hand, Dr. Shelly Gruenig, the executive director of R4 Creating, is looking for a World Championship to add to the trophy case.

“I think it’s really amazing,” Gruenig said. “This is the first time we’ll be sending middle schoolers to the world competition. I’m so incredibly proud of them and also proud of our volunteers and our high school mentors who help the younger kids learn and grow.”

While Gruening is proud of winning another title, there was an incident during the state competition that had her beaming with pride. One team member dropped his robot and watched it break into pieces. The team worked together to help him rebuild the robot and provided encouragement for him and others throughout the competition.

“Honestly, that kind of teamwork and that kind of development of character and living out their character makes me more proud than winning a trophy,” Gruenig said. “That is why I do what I do, to watch them grow in those ways.”

The team will compete at the World Championships in Dallas April 30 to May 2 but needs community support to get there. The cost to get each team member to Dallas is around $750, and there are registration fees. R4, a local nonprofit, is asking for donations to help the team compete at the World Championships.