TVA Cheers on Valley Robotics Team Heading to World Championship

TVA is cheering on The Illuminati, a Collierville, Tenn., high school robotics team, who will compete next month at the VEX Robotics World Championship after winning the Tennessee state title.

The rookie team entered their first tournament in January 2016 and learned all they could. During the next four weeks, they logged almost 40 hours per week working to improve their robot design. That hard work paid off in February when they won the design award at their local robotics competition, which advanced them to the Tennessee state tournament.  

“The Illuminati team may be new to robotics, but they made up for their inexperience with hard work,” says Shelli Brasher, Collierville High School teacher and robotics coach. “[They] never stopped working and never gave up.”

During the week prior to the VEX Robotics Tennessee State Championship in Nashville, the team constantly improved upon their design. Other teams at the state completion saw their design and were so impressed at this rookie team that they invited them to be part of their alliance in the finals.

The VEX Robotics World Championship is held each April in Louisville, Ken. The Collierville team will compete against teams of middle and high school students from around the world in a two-on-two, head-to-head competition format.

“Thank you TVA for supporting robotics programs and giving us the opportunity to bring home a world championship to the Tennessee Valley,” said Brasher.

Collierville robotics team members headed to the World Championships are: David Boers, Anjali Padiyar, Josh Cole, Grace Capooth, Nate Gerjets, Luis Rey, Sawyer Wiegant, Tyler Mimes, Gemia Williams, Cameron Hayden, Sebastian Mobo, Scott Brooks and Justice Maravilla.

“This year TVA sponsored about 40 robotics competitions across the Tennessee Valley, and I’m excited to see one of our Valley teams move on to the World Championship,” says Charley Spencer, TVA program manager.

For over 10 years, TVA has supported Valley robotics programs as a hands-on way to get kids excited about science, technology, engineering and math.

Currently, there are over 500 elementary, middle and high schools in the Valley that have robotics programs. To help students prepare for STEM careers, TVA sponsors VEX and FIRST robotics competitions robotics across the Valley.

“The students learn so many things from robotics," says Brasher. "In addition to learning about mechanical, electrical, and computer applications, students also develop the creativity, logic, critical thinking, communication and career skills they need for the future.”

The Collierville team is looking for sponsors to help offset transportation, hotel and meals costs. Contact Shelli Brasher at ( if you are interested in helping sponsor the team at the world competition.