Saginaw Valley State University will welcome 160 high school robotics teams from across the state for the FIRST in Michigan state championships this week. The event is expected to draw about 5,000 high school students and 8,000 total visitors to campus each day of the competition.
This marks the second year SVSU has hosted the competition. The Great Lakes Bay Regional Convention and Visitors Bureau estimates last year’s event resulted in an economic impact of at least $1 million.
As an organization, FIRST in Michigan seeks to inspire young people to be science and technology leaders and innovators. Many SVSU faculty and staff volunteer their time to support local schools and education programs, and more than 300 individuals - faculty, staff, students and alumni - volunteered during the 2017 state championships.
During competition, three teams compete using autonomous and remote-controlled robots piloted by students, battling to earn points during a two-minute round.
The theme for the 2018 FIRST Robotics competition is "Power Up." It features two alliances of video game characters and their human operators who are trapped in a 1980s-style arcade game. Both alliances are working to defeat the boss in order to escape.
The anticipated daily schedule is as follows:
Wednesday, April 11: Teams will begin arriving to unload their robots and set up their pits (work spaces for making adjustments to the robots) around 2 p.m. and may work on their robots in the field house until 9 p.m.
Thursday, April 12: Practice matches will be held in the O’Neill Arena of SVSU’s Ryder Center from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Opening ceremonies, including remarks from SVSU President Don Bachand, will begin at 3 p.m., and competition matches will run from 3:30 to 7 p.m.
Friday, April 13: Matches are scheduled from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Teams that qualified for the playoffs will form alliances that evening to prepare to compete on Saturday.
Saturday, April 14: Opening ceremonies will be held at 9 a.m. Playoff matches are scheduled from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The teams that qualify for the finals will calibrate their robots at 2 p.m., and the final playoff rounds will begin at 2:30 p.m. The awards presentations will follow, staring some time after 4 p.m. An SVSU staff member, John Leonard, is a finalist for the Woodie Flowers Award given annually to one outstanding mentor advising a team involved in the worldwide competition. He is a mentor to the Bullock Creek High School FIRST Robotics team known as BlitzCreek Robotics.
For up-to-date information, visit www.svsu.edu/firstatsvsu.