About our Club

What is the NVHS Robotics Club?

The NVHS Robotics Club (a.k.a. the WiredCats) was founded in 2012 by Mr. 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.

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. It's comprised of three tournaments: two high school tournaments (an IPSD only event and an open event), and an IPSD middle school scrimmage.

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?

Mr. Peter Ross | Coach

The 2018-19 robotics season will be the first for Mr. Ross as a coach. Impressed with the students and their achievements in the robotics club, Mr. Ross jumped at the chance to become its coach.

After a 20-year career as a civil engineer designing roadways, Mr. Ross fulfilled a calling by becoming a teacher in the 2017-18 school year. He teaches the Project Lead the Way (PLTW) Introduction to Engineering Design (IED) course at both the NVHS main building at the Birkett Freshman Center. He is also the assistant coach of SkillsUSA and the NVHS IDEA (drafting) teams.

Mr. Ross earned a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a Master of Arts in Teaching (Secondary Education) from National Louis University. He is a graduate of Galesburg High School in west-central Illinois.

Mr. Ross can be contacted at peter_ross@ipsd.org and (630) 428-6000 ext. 4833.

Mr. Ross's Homepage

Mr. Anthony Romeo | Coach

Mr. Romeo returns to co-coach the WiredCats, where he previously coached alongside Mr. Ragusa from 2015 to 2017. Mr. Romeo brings 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 coaches the Metea Valley Robotics Club where he is a science teacher.

Mr. Romeo can be contacted at anthony_romeo@ipsd.org and (630) 375-5900 exxt. 4388.

Club Founder

Mr. Matt Ragusa | 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 is a NVHS alumnus from the Class of 2004. While at Neuqua, he participated in Marching Band and was a captain of the Track and Field team. He continued his track career at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He also worked for four years in a nano-science engineering research group while studying Chemistry with a minor in Secondary Education.

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.