VEX state tourney

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Feb. 10, 2015

Largest ever VEX Robotics State Championship set for Feb. 22 at MSUSixty VEX Robotics team will fill Jenison Field House and compete for state honors at the 2015 VEX Robotics State Championship on Feb. 22.

The state championship for VEX Robotics will be the largest ever when many of Michigan’s youngest robotic masters challenge each other on Sunday, Feb. 22, at Michigan State University in East Lansing.

Sixty VEX Robotics teams, including those from Battle Creek, Belding, Bloomfield Hills, Detroit, DeWitt, Grandville, Haslett, Pontiac, Traverse City, Utica, and other Michigan cities will compete at the state tournament that runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in Jenison Field House on the MSU campus. There will be 20 middle school teams and 40 high school teams.

Winners vie for the right to advance to the 2015 VEX Robotics World Championship in April in Louisville, Ky.

Last year, an MSU College of Engineering sponsored team, the Haslett VEX Raptors MSU from Haslett High School, beat out 430 teams from 27 countries to win the coveted VEX Robotics World Championship Excellence Award. Nik Buchholz, Hannah Kempel, Connor Rowley, Austin Scheerer and Matthew Watson, coaches Claus Buchholz and Kim Schramm, and “Kitt” the robot were awarded the highest honor in the VEX Robotics Championship high school division. In the previous six years, it was only the third U.S. high school team to win the Excellence Award.

“This state tournament is a wonderful and exciting way to challenge future engineers and designers to strengthen their skills in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM),” said Drew Kim, assistant to the dean for recruitment, scholarship and K-12 outreach in MSU's College of Engineering. “And as we saw with last year’s world championship excellence award, this tournament produces world-class competitors.”Drew Kim

Kim said the event is free and open to the public. He is encouraging families to bring their elementary through high school students to see the action and enjoy the statewide competition.

Using the VEX Robotics Design System, students build innovative robots and then compete on a 12-foot by 12-foot playing field. The VEX Robotics Competition is designed to inspire students to pursue STEM careers.

Bob WatsonThis year’s game is called VEX Skyrise. Two alliances – one “red” and one “blue” – composed of two teams each, compete in matches consisting of a 15-second autonomous period followed by one minute and 45 seconds of driver-controlled play. Robots are smaller than 18 inches x 18 inches x 18 inches. See a video of this year’s game at:

"The VEX Robotics program helps middle and high school students learn the basics of engineering and how to work together as a team,” explained Bob Watson, K-12 outreach/robotics coordinator for MSU’s College of Engineering. “It is a direct response to our country’s need for constantly improving innovations."

Students compete in multiple tournaments on their way to the state finals, providing opportunities for the teams to integrate changes and improve their troubleshooting skills.

Michigan State University is the largest university sponsor of VEX Robotics in Michigan. MSU sponsors 33 teams from around the state, many of them from underrepresented schools, Watson explained. MSU students help VEX team members learn the principles of engineering as they design and build their robots for competition. Four of the MSU-sponsored teams qualified for the state tournament this year.

Winners from the four top team alliances, along with the Excellence and Design Award winners, will receive an invitation to the 2015 VEX Robotics World Championship at the Kentucky Exposition Center in Louisville, April 15-18. The intense four-day annual robotics-engineering tournament will attract more than 800 teams and 15,000 students from more than 25 countries to further inspire their interest in STEM.