More than two hours away from her house, Alina DeVoogd feels completely at “home.”
The Algonac High School senior is among the nearly 5,000 high school students attending the statewide FIRST Robotics competition hosted by Saginaw Valley State University this week. From Thursday to Saturday, April 13-15, 160 teams from Michigan — from Adrian to Zeeland — are competing against each other using autonomous and remote-controlled robots piloted by students.
The occasion converged two of the things DeVoogd has “fallen in love with”: the high school robotics competition that has captured her imagination and attention for two years, and the university she plans to attend in the fall.
“I was so excited when I heard SVSU would be hosting FIRST for the first time this year,” she said.
“I thought that was the perfect combination. The environments for both have a lot in common: There’s real energy and both have such caring people. They both make you feel like you’re at home.”
DeVoogd’s excitement for the team-up was strong enough that she attended the Thursday-through-Sunday competition despite the fact her team, Algonac High School’s Full Metal Muskrats, did not advance beyond the regional tournaments that preceded the SVSU-hosted contest.
“I couldn’t miss this,” she said.
DeVoogd first fell for FIRST Robotics when her high school created the Muskrats team two years ago. She signed up as part of the group’s marketing team, charged with promoting the team and seeking funds. The fit was perfect for the future marketing major at SVSU.
“It was a great opportunity I couldn’t pass up,” she said.
This year, DeVoogd helped the Muskrats secure sponsorships from NASA, Ford Motor Co., Lowe’s Home Improvement, and a few local businesses from her hometown, she said.
“Building the robots is very expensive, so every bit helps,” she said.
One sponsor donated a 3-D printer for the team’s purposes.
“I fell in love with the FIRST Robotics community and environment,” she said. “The constant kindness you find on these FIRST teams is incredible.”
DeVoogd said she expects to remain involved in FIRST Robotics as a mentor after she graduates from high school.
“It makes me happy to help others,” she said.
That same characteristic was partly what attracted her to SVSU. She was familiar with the university because of a friend who attended the institution. After participating in a campus tour, DeVoogd was sold that SVSU was a perfect fit for her.
“I really loved the feel of the environment,” said DeVoogd, who earned the university’s President’s Scholarship and plans to live on campus. “It was a place where I could tell the faculty really cared about the students. It felt comfortable.”
DeVoogd said she hopes the high school students attending this week’s competition are inspired by the shared values of FIRST Robotics and SVSU.
“I hope they fall in love with both too,” she said. “I hope they feel like this isn’t someplace that you go to just walk through: It’s like home.”
Saginaw Valley State University will host the FIRST in Michigan statewide high school robotics competition Thursday, April 13 through Saturday, April 15. Some teams will be arriving and unloading their equipment Wednesday, April 12.
This is an action-packed, highly visual event. In each round, three teams compete using autonomous and remote-controlled robots piloted by students, battling to earn points during a two-minute round.
A total of 160 Michigan high school teams from St. Joseph to Houghton have qualified for the contest. This will bring nearly 5,000 students and more than 7,500 total visitors to the Great Lakes Bay Region for an estimated economic impact of $1.2 million. (A full list of teams can be found here: https://www.firstinspires.org/team-event-search/event?id=22485)
FIRST calls its robotics program "a varsity sport for the mind" that allows students to learn from professional engineers and qualify for college scholarships (nearly $25 million nationwide). It is designed to inspire students to pursue careers in the STEM fields: science, technology, engineering and math.
This year's theme is STEAMworks. Check out the link below for a short explanation of the challenge. (Keep in mind, these are high school students building and programming the robots to do all this! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EMiNmJW7enI)
The positive impact on FIRST Robotics participants is well documented. Over 88 percent have more interest in school, 97 percent have an increased desire to learn more about STEM and 92 percent are more interested in attending college.
One example is Nevin Steinbrink, who competed in FIRST during high school; he has since graduated from SVSU with a mechanical engineering degree and has launched his own engineering firm in Old Town Saginaw. (http://svsu.edu/newsroom/news/2017/firstroboticscardinalformularacing/firstroboticscardinalformularacingprovidefoundationforbusinessstarted.html)
Michigan had the largest increase in teams in 2016 with nearly 60 new teams signing up this year for a total of 450 teams competing throughout the state. (By comparison, California has fewer than 300 teams.)
Opening ceremonies are scheduled for 3 p.m. Thursday, April 13. Matches are scheduled in the Ryder Center from 3:30 to 7:30 p.m. On Friday, matches are scheduled from 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 6 p.m.
A total of 32 teams will advance to the playoff rounds Saturday, April 15. Opening ceremonies are scheduled for 8:30 a.m. Playoff matches will be held from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The championship matches will take place from 2:30 to 4 p.m.
Throughout Thursday and Friday, teams will be assembled in the “pits” (SVSU field house), making final adjustments to their robots.
Free shuttle service between Fashion Square Mall and SVSU is available from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Thursday. SVSU dining facilities, the Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum, and other campus venues will have extended hours during the competition. For details on these services and more information, visit http://www.svsu.edu/firstatsvsu/.
Ten Saginaw Valley State University Writing Center tutors were among a group of undergraduates selected to present their research at the East Central Writing Center Association 2017 Conference held at Southwestern Michigan College on the weekend of March 24-25.
The presentations focused on best practices mentoring new tutors, conducting online sessions, creating a writing center strategic plan, and tutoring in the community writing center.
Bailey Brown, a criminal justice major from Fowlerville; Samantha Geffert, a secondary English education major from Farmington Hills; and Renee Okenka, a secondary English education major from Lennon, presented on ways to peer mentor new tutors in the Writing Center. The three students worked with Helen Raica-Klotz, SVSU’s Writing Center director.
KayLee Davis, a creative writing major from Charlevoix; and Madison Martin, an English major from Bay City presented on negotiating Writing Center identity through the students’ eyes.
Sara Houser, an elementary education major from Saginaw, presented on strategies to develop more efficient online tutoring sessions.
Riley Millard, a public administration major from Tawas City; and Joshua Atkins, an English major from Reese, worked with Writing Center assistant director Chris Giroux to present their ideas on community involvement.
Kylie Wojciechowski, a technical writing major from Bay City, wrote about a new developing online writing center tutoring platform called WCOnline.
For more information contact Helen Raica-Klotz, Writing Center Director, at email@example.com or via phone, (989) 964-6062.
Saginaw Valley State University will host renowned scholar and preservationist Giselle Tamayo-Castillo for a public lecture Thursday, April 20 at 7 p.m. in the Rhea Miller Recital Hall.
A professor of chemistry at the University of Costa Rica, Tamayo-Castillo will discuss the creation of the National Institute of Biodiversity, its successes and failures, and her personal involvement with this private, not-for-profit organization.
Also the president of the National Council for Science and Technology, Tamayo-Castillo has published more than 50 articles on biodiversity and, as a scholar, is particularly interested in the ecology of the Central American rainforests. Her research has focused on both natural products that may have therapeutic value as well as complex microbial ecosystems.
Costa Rica possesses only 4 percent of the world's biodiversity, yet by square mile, is one of the most diverse countries on the planet. Efforts to preserve this biodiversity date back to Costa Rica's earliest days as an independent nation and were strengthened under various administrations in the late twentieth century. Despite these efforts, by the 1980s, industrial and agricultural expansion had begun to threaten pristine areas.
Tamayo-Castillo received her doctorate in natural sciences from the Technical University of Berlin in Germany and has held numerous leadership positions in national and international academies of science.
The SVSU event is open to the public and free of charge. Tamayo-Castillo is visiting through the Dow Visiting Scholars & Artists program at SVSU, which was established through an endowment from The Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation to enrich our region’s cultural and intellectual opportunities.
For more information on Giselle Tamayo-Castillo and her work in academia, please visit http://ucr.academia.edu/GiselleTamayoCastillo.
The Saginaw Valley State University Concert Band will perform in concert Wednesday, April 12 at 7:30 p.m. in SVSU's Malcolm Field Theatre for Performing Arts. This event is free and open to the public.
The SVSU Concert Band is an ensemble consisting of 44 students under the direction of Norman Wika, SVSU assistant professor of music. Featured instruments include the clarinet, trumpet, euphonium and trombone, among others.
The band will perform various musical pieces including "Symphony no. 1, Lord of the Rings - Hobbits" by composer Johan De Meij, "Halo Theme" by Marty O'Donnell and Michael Salvatori, and "English Folk Song Suite" by Ralph Vaughan Williams.
Wika directs the Cardinal Marching Band and conducts the Wind Ensemble and Concert Bands along with teaching courses within the music department. He is also an active trombone player, giving recitals and appearing with ensembles such as the Tulsa Symphony and the Saginaw Bay Symphony Orchestra.
For more information on this concert or the many other events hosted by SVSU's music department, visit svsu.edu/music.
We at Saginaw Valley State University congratulate all the FIRST Robotics programs throughout Michigan who have qualified for the state championships. We look forward to hosting you on our welcoming, suburban campus in Michigan's Great Lakes Bay Region. Please visit our event website for the most current information pertaining to the FIRST in Michigan state finals events Wednesday, April 12 through Saturday, April 15. [ more... ]
Four Saginaw Valley State University students are hosting a dinner to recognize local Vietnam veterans for their military service. The event will take place Friday, April 7 at the Kochville Township Veterans Hall from 5-7 p.m.
The event will see SVSU students serving meals to 50 Vietnam veterans in order to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War. The dinner is free of charge for all veterans in attendance.
In order to recognize and honor all of the military branches, representatives from the SVSU marching band will present a medley of the military branch songs following dinner.
The Veterans Affairs Medical Center will be presenting a signed proclamation commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War as well as pins for all the veterans in attendance.
The students are part of SVSU's Vitito Fellowship, a program for students who are driven to pursue leadership roles in business organizations that operate in an increasingly global setting.
Vitito Fellows Lauren Miller, a marketing major from Byron; Anthony Bodeis, an accounting major from Mayville; Tyler Newell, an international business major from Saginaw; and Bijesh Gyawali, a finance major from Nepal are raising funds for the event.
Sponsors for the dinner include Farm Bureau Insurance - John Aird Agency, Greenstone FCS,
Hammer Restoration, Independent Bank, Team One Credit Union and the Wirt Rivette Group.
A collaboration between Saginaw Valley State University and the Public Libraries of Saginaw will help individuals better understand and preserve their family histories through writing.
Genealogy researchers and writing experts will lead a workshop from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday, April 11, at Butman-Fish Branch Library, 1716 Hancock in Saginaw.
The idea in part was the brainchild of Brad Jarvis, SVSU associate professor of history, and one of his students, Riley Millard, a public administration major from Tawas City who also serves as coordinator of the SVSU-led Saginaw Community Writing Center. The writing center over the years has partnered with the Public Libraries of Saginaw to provide various types of writing workshops.
Millard, a public history minor, hopes the latest collaboration will inspire families to better understand their origins by recording it in a “family book,” which can be passed down to future generations by the authors.
“This is something people think about doing but don’t do too often,” he said. “This workshop will provide people with an opportunity to take agency over their family history.”
Staff in the Public Libraries of Saginaw history and genealogy departments will offer participants resources and tips on how to research their family histories. Millard and members of the Saginaw Community Writing Center then will tutor attendees on various techniques and approaches used to document that history in written form.
“You don’t have to know anything about your family history going into this,” Millard said.
The workshop is free and open to the public.
Saginaw Valley State University's English Language Program will share international experiences with local grade school students during the “Passport to the World” event Friday, April 7.
Fifth grade students from Carrollton Public Schools will interact with SVSU international students during activities that are designed to give children a glimpse of global knowledge and cultures. Planned events include reprisals of acts performed during SVSU's Intercultural Night earlier this semester. Throughout the day, SVSU students will practice their growing English language skills with native speakers.
This year, the event also will provide the elementary students with a tour of the Marshall Fredericks Sculpture Museum, a literacy program at SVSU's Zahnow Library, food in the Marketplace at Doan cafeteria, and a sample of different physical exercises, under the guidance of SVSU fitness volunteers.
SVSU has hosted Passport to the World for more than ten years.
As the founder and president of a design and engineering company, Nevin Steinbrink appreciates the opportunity to build things.
He also appreciates the things that built him.
Two important building blocks for the Bloomfield Hills native were FIRST Robotics, a competition for high school students to create robots, and Saginaw Valley State University’s Formula Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) Cardinal Formula Racing team, which builds Indy-style vehicles to race against international competition.
His involvement with both organizations — and the lessons learned along the way — helped him succeed when he created his Old Town Saginaw-based company, Steinbrink Engineering LLC, in 2008.
“The transition — going from FIRST Robotics, to SAE, to starting a company — was so critical to my success,” said Steinbrink, who graduated from SVSU with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering in 2015.
“Being part of FIRST Robotics and SAE helped me learn to become independent and yet still dependent on my teammates. That really helped me to balance myself out so I could feel confident and comfortable starting my own company.”
Soon, reminders of Steinbrink’s past will be on display nearby.
SVSU will host this year’s statewide FIRST Robotics contest April 12-15, when about 5,000 high school student competitors from across Michigan will visit the campus.
A few weeks after that, this year’s SVSU Cardinal Formula Racing team will finish assembling its latest vehicle for the Formula SAE Collegiate Competition Series in May.
Steinbrink plans to visit the FIRST Robotics competition. As an SVSU adjunct instructor who teaches mechanical engineering courses, he is never far from the on-campus body shop where the racing team builds its vehicles.
“Those were great times,” he said of both experiences.
His involvement with FIRST Robotics began in 2001 when he was a student at Andover High School. Organizers created a FIRST Robotics team for interested students from his school and another nearby institution. One of that team's advisors, Gail Alpert, now serves as president of FIRST in Michigan.
“I learned so much,” Stenibrink said of his work with the group, known as Team 469.
Steinbrink and his teammates rotated responsibilities involving everything from design conception to building the final product. That wide-ranging exposure to creating technology gave him a big-picture sense of both how to assemble a machine and work with others in achieving goals.
“I was learning all this knowledge at 15; not only the design, but also how parts are made,” he said. “That was huge. These aren’t things you can learn in a class. You have to get your hands dirty.”
In 2003, Steinbrink and his team bested the competition — about 1,500 teams in total — at the FIRST Robotics’ national championship competition in Orlando, Florida.
The lessons learned from that experience provided a foundation for accomplishing similar tasks when he worked as a member of the SVSU Cardinal Formula Racing team from 2008-11.
“SAE was basically the same thing as FIRST Robotics, except your parents aren’t as involved,” Steinbrink said. “It’s a higher level, but you’re doing a lot of the same things.”
And the lessons learned from both experiences provided a foundation of knowledge that gave Steinbrink the confidence and wherewithal to create Steinbrink Engineering LLC, which provides services to clients in need of help with design and engineering work.
The organization has worked with clients on technology that supports physical therapy-aiding devices, Bluetooth-connected electric toothbrushes, football helmet facemasks, and HVAC air flow systems.
While he largely manages the company’s workload now, Steinbrink occasionally has the opportunity to take the sort of hands-on approach that allowed him to excel in FIRST Robotics and Cardinal Formula Racing once upon a time.
“I still love getting my hands dirty,” he said. “That hasn’t changed.”