SVSU hosting FIRST in Michigan statewide high school robotics competition
Saginaw Valley State University is host to nearly 5,000 high school students from across Michigan for the statewide FIRST Robotics competition Thursday, April 13 through Saturday, April 15. Including professional mentors and family members, an estimated 7,500 people have descended on the Great Lakes Bay Region for the competition, which is designed to inspire students to pursue careers in the STEM fields: science, technology, engineering and math.
“We are dedicated to growing the next generation of passionate STEM individuals,” said Gail Alpert, president of FIRST in Michigan. “The robot is the vehicle we use to help them understand fields from mechanical engineering to computer science to business.”
SVSU President Donald Bachand said hosting the FIRST Robotics competition is a good fit for SVSU academically.
“We have highly determined students and faculty throughout our STEM disciplines, and they are winning national awards year after year,” he said. “This provides our students and faculty with an opportunity to volunteer for the event and support these high school students. It also allows us to introduce our academic programs to a motivated group of young people, including our specialized research and competitive opportunities that have received millions of dollars in private support over the past few years.”
The competition features 160 high school teams, which average 30 students and four professional mentors per team. Practice sessions and robot repairs will take place in SVSU’s field house, while competition events will be held in O’Neill Arena of the Ryder Center. Both facilities are part of SVSU’s athletic complex.
The Great Lakes Bay Regional Convention and Visitors Bureau, which provided assistance to allow SVSU to host the event, estimates the competition will result in direct spending of $1.2 million in the region. The event previously was held in Grand Rapids, but outgrew the facility as student participation has increased.
“SVSU presents us with more space and an absolutely beautiful facility,” Alpert said.
The qualifying rounds of competition will take place throughout the day Thursday, April 13 and Friday, April 14 with 40 teams in four separate divisions. A total of 32 teams will advance to the playoff rounds Saturday, April 15 with the champion crowned that afternoon.
Entry to FIRST Robotics events is free and families are encouraged to come out and see what the excitement about STEM is all about!
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