MSU to Host First Regional Spartan VEX Robotics High School Challenge

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March 18, 2010

Michigan State University will host the first Regional Spartan VEX Robotics High School Challenge on Saturday, March 20, from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at IM Circle, the intramural sports building at the corner of West Circle Drive and Kalamazoo Street.

Using the VEX Robotics Design System, students will build innovative robots and compete on a 12-foot by 12-foot playing field. The game for the 2009-2010 season is Clean Sweep. Spectators are welcome.

This year, 18 teams from around the state will compete in the VEX Robotics High School Challenge. De La Salle Collegiate High School in Warren and Cranbrook School in Bloomfield Hills are participating, along with high schools from Lansing, Detroit, DeWitt, Owosso, Highland Park and Niles. Students involved are considered to be top performers in science and math at their respective high schools.

“This has been an exciting robotics season,” said Bob Watson, K-12 outreach/robotics coordinator for the College of Engineering. “One of the teams sponsored by MSU’s College of Engineering – DeWitt High School – has already qualified to compete in the VEX Robotics World Championship in Dallas, Texas, April 22-24.” Watson will serve as a judge at that competition.

The World Championship is a gathering of top high school robotic teams from around the world to celebrate their accomplishments and compete against the best. MSU has been invited to set up an information table at the event. “Not only is this an outreach opportunity, but we also have an opportunity to recruit brilliant high school students from around the world,” said Drew Kim, assistant to the dean for recruitment and K-12 outreach in the College of Engineering.

The college also sponsored Lansing Catholic Central and Owosso High School this year. “Finding schools to participate was difficult with the reduction of funding at the high schools,” said Watson. “But once the schools were on board, they quickly learned the basics of building and programming. At the first tournament, the robots had some problems, but the students continuously improved them throughout the day. By the second tournament, the robots were greatly improved. I’m excited to see the improvements at this next and final qualifying tournament.”

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Plans are already underway for MSU to host a “super regional” in spring 2011.