Teacher leads robotics students to state championship


With a passion that reaches far beyond his classroom walls, Rex Lees, a teacher at Emmett J. Conrad High School is an inspiration to his students.  

Lees fosters a community-wide love of STEM education. And, under his leadership, the school’s robotic club, the RoboChargers, has expanded to supporting projects, such as the “RoboChargers for All” campaign.

The campaign promotes inclusion and diversity in robotics and STEM through specialized camps run by female mentors with the goal of encouraging all students to go into the field of engineering. 

“We hold robotics camps specifically for girls and non-binary students, led by female mentors, to show that anyone can become an engineer,” Lees said.

The team is also the For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology Robotics Competition UIL State Champions for the second year in a row.

Lees’s journey with Dallas ISD led him to join the renowned 3005 RoboChargers, a FIRST Robotics Competition team. Established in 2009 and revitalized in 2013, the RoboChargers compete across the state, inspiring students from diverse backgrounds to pursue careers in engineering and technology. 

“3005 RoboChargers was inspired by the need for technologically savvy workers in and from the Vickery Meadows area,” Lees said. “Our goal is not only to win competitions but also to excite STEM education, particularly within Dallas.” 

For Lees, education isn’t just a career choice; it’s a familial legacy.

“Education has been in my blood,” he said. “All my grandparents were educators, and my mom still is. Both of my grandmothers were nationally recognized math teachers in their time.”

The club’s activities are as diverse as its members, ranging from computer-aided design and programming to fabrication and outreach. Another important factor of the club’s activities is the collaboration with external organizations and professionals. 

“We have 10-plus professionals from various fields who volunteer their time to work with the students,” Lees said. “From manufacturing to programming, our students gain invaluable experience from these partnerships.”

Through hands-on experience and mentorship, students gain practical skills and essential knowledge for their future endeavors.  

“Students have direct access to and interact with professionals as they solve problems together,” Lees said. Some of the club’s volunteers come from Texas Instruments, REV Robotics, and Cisco. 

The impact of the club extends far beyond technical skills. Lees notes a transformation in his students’ attitudes and behaviors. 

“Many robotics students start as introverted quiet kids,” he said. “But throughout the program, they develop confidence in themselves and their abilities.”

The robotics journey hasn’t been without its challenges. The pandemic forced the club to reset, with Lees and a handful of students starting fresh in the 2021-2022 school year. The club has grown exponentially since then, fostering a culture of teamwork and inclusivity.

Lees’ reflection on his time with Dallas ISD shows his passion for education and robotics.

“Seeing my students’ successes and witnessing their enthusiasm for STEM education is my favorite memory,” he said. 



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