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MSU hosts Michigan VEX Robotics State Championships

Michigan State University will host the VEX Robotics State Championships from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 24 at Jenison Field House.

Around 500 of the state’s top youth robotic minds will compete in two divisions during the tournament, with opening ceremonies beginning at 9:15 a.m. The event is free and open to the public.

Drew Kim, assistant to the dean for recruitment, scholarship and K-12 outreach in the MSU College of Engineering, said this year’s competition will challenge 72 high school teams from all over Michigan’s lower peninsula. Championship games for middle school teams are at Monroe Community College this year.

“VEX Robotics introduces students to basic robot innovation, working together, troubleshooting and having fun in a team setting,” Kim said. “We’re so proud to nurture these young engineers and designers at one of Michigan’s biggest STEM events for students each year.”

Kim explained that students build innovative robots and then compete on a 12-foot by 12-foot playing field. This year’s game, VEX Turning Point, uses caps, flags, three-inch balls and three platforms to score points during timed contests. Two alliances, made up of two teams each, compete in qualifying matches.

Awards are presented for design, robot skills and judges’ choice, along with Amaze, Innovate and Think Awards. 

Competing high school teams are from Battle Creek, Bloomfield Hills, Cass City, Detroit, DeWitt, Grandville, Haslett, Harbor Beach, Hudsonville, Novi and Traverse City, among many others.

Michigan is home to nearly 255 high school VEX teams, and MSU is the largest university sponsor of VEX Robotics in Michigan, supporting 15 teams around the state. Many of MSU’s teams are from schools with underrepresented student populations.

Kim said that MSU is able to host the state competition because of the many volunteers who contribute time and support, including the MSU student volunteers who help VEX participants learn the principles of engineering as they design and build their robots.

“This year, we’d especially like to thank the men and women of the MSU Air Force ROTC for their years of setting up tables, chairs and competition fields and for presenting the U.S. flag during opening ceremonies — without which our large state championship wouldn’t be possible.”

“We are committed to continually working on the pipeline for technical workers,” Watson said. “VEX Robotics helps STEM students build skills and a friendly professional network for their future.”

For more on the Michigan VEX Robotics State Championship, visit the event website.

By: Patricia Mroczek