About our Club

What is the NVHS Robotics Club?

The NVHS Robotics Club (a.k.a. the WiredCats) was founded in 2012 by Matt Ragusa, and it included 10 student members and two VEX robotics kits. This allowed for two teams of five students each, whom competed at a Rolling Meadows High School competition that inaugural season.  Through the vision and hard work of Mr. Ragusa and his assistant coaches, the club grew to its current size of seven teams and achieved great success at regional, state, national, and world competitions.  With the immense help in partnering with Anthony Romeo from 2018-2022, this tradition has been carried forward by our current coach Peter Ross.

Mr. Ragusa  started a home-grown competition at Neuqua in his second year as the robotics club coach.  The WiredCats VEX Robotics Tournament with 24 teams in 2014 and grew to include 74 teams in 2017.  It has received great support from the community and media attention from around the region.  Based on its success, the tournament expanded from a NVHS event to a district-wide event starting in the 2018-19 season and concluding in the 2021-22 season.  During 2021-22, the NVHS-led event returned on February 6, 2022 as a 32-team event.  The tournament is an excellent opportunity for parents to volunteer in support of their robotics kids.

The club provides students with an opportunity to learn the basics of electro-mechanical technology using the VEX Educational Robotics Design System (see the VEX Information page for more information.  Participating students gain familiarity with mechanical design principles, computer-aided design, and basic programming of robots.  They engage in hands-on building, testing, and competing with the robots they design.  In the process, students build skills in collaboration, perseverance, and critical thinking, among others.

Participating in the club can be a lot of fun, but "serious fun" with a purpose.  We meet twice a week at the NVHS Birkett Freshman Building in Room H123 to design, build, test, redesign, rebuild, and retest our robots.  It all leads to competing against teams from all over the midwest at competitions held on Saturdays throughout our region.  Our teams have a track record of qualifying for state, national, and world tournaments as well.

Who coaches the team?

Mrs. Dipti Vaidya | Coach (2022-present)

Mrs. Vaidya joined the Neuqua Valley Robotics Club as its newest coach in the fall of 2022.  She teaches mathematics at NVHS.  Mrs. Vaidya can be contacted at dipti_vaidya@ipsd.org and (630) 428-6000 ext. 4863.

Mrs. Vaidya's Homepage

Prior Coaches

Mr. Peter Ross | Coach Emeritus  (2018-2023)

In 2018, Mr. Ross joined the Neuqua Valley Robotics Club as a coach and continued in that role until the spring of 2023.  During this timeframe, Neuqua robotics teams have qualified for both the state and world championship events through the great efforts of the student members.  Mr. Ross continues to teach Project Lead the Way (PLTW) courses at Neuqua Valley (Introduction to Engineering Design, Digital Electronics and Civil Engineering & Architecture). 

Mr. Anthony Romeo | Coach Emeritus (2015-17, 2018-2022)

Mr. Romeo returned to co-coach the WiredCats from 2018-2022, following a previous tenure alongside Mr. Ragusa from 2015 to 2017.  Mr. Romeo brought a wealth of robotics experience that will benefit both new and experienced robotics students alike.  In addition to his coaching duties at Neuqua, Mr. Romeo also coached the Metea Valley Robotics Club.  While Mr. Romeo has moved on to Oak Park-River Forest High School.

Mr. Matt Zawlocki | Coach Emeritus (2017-2018)

Mr. Zawlocki is a Technology and Engineering teacher at Waubonsie Valley High School and formerly Neuqua Valley High School.   Mr. Zawlocki possesses a deep understanding of applied technology and is one of the leading voices promoting Technology and Engineering Education in IPSD 204.  During the 2017-18, Mr. Zawlocki advanced our program by mentoring students in the Neuqua Valley Robotics Club.

Mr. Matt Ragusa | Founder and Coach Emeritus (2012 - 2018)

In 2012, NVHS assistant principal Mr. Dave Perry approached Mr. Ragusa about starting a robotics club.  The club began with two teams and 10 students and has grown to today's seven teams with 42 students.  Mr. Ragusa also started the WiredCats VEX Robotics Tournament that was initially 24 teams held in January of 2014.  In 2018, the tournament hosted 74 teams.  Today, the tournament is hosted as a Indian Prairie School District 204 event at Neuqua Valley High School.  Mr. Ragusa continues to volunteer his time to assist with this tournament.

As a member of the Science Department, Mr. Ragusa teaches both  Chemistry and Chem/Phys courses.  He is also an assistant coach with the NVHS Track & Field team and graduated from Neuqua in 2004.