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March 28, 2018

SVSU powers up to host another FIRST Robotics state championship

Saginaw Valley State University will be filled with about 5,500 high school students seeking a state championship Wednesday, April 11 through Saturday, April 14 as SVSU hosts the statewide FIRST Robotics competition for the second consecutive year.

In total, more than 8,000 people will visit the Great Lakes Bay Region for the competition, including professional mentors, family members and others.

Michigan employers report high demand for employees with scientific and technical expertise who can work in a team. As an organization, FIRST in Michigan seeks to inspire young people to be science and technology leaders and innovators.

Adrianne Cole, director of STEM at SVSU, said the event fits well with SVSU’s many outreach activities in the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and math).

“We are partnering with many schools throughout the Great Lakes Bay Region and beyond on a daily basis to boost student performance in math and science, and to provide teachers with tools and resources to be more effective in the classroom,” she said.

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.

In addition to the learning that takes place, the event also is a boon to local businesses. The Great Lakes Bay Regional Convention and Visitors Bureau estimated the economic impact of last year’s event to be at least $1 million.

“We couldn't be more proud to welcome back the FIRST in Michigan Robotics Competition to Go Great Lakes Bay in 2018,” said Sonja Wood, Manager of Go Great Meetings for Go Great Lakes Bay. “We're absolutely thrilled to have these bright and talented students explore and experience Pure Michigan's Great Lakes Bay with their families and friends again this year, enjoying the incredible amenities and hospitality of SVSU and our entire region.”

The FIRST Robotics field will include 160 teams from across the state.

Practice sessions and robot repairs will take place in SVSU’s field house, while competition events will be held in O’Neill Arena of the Ryder Center. Both facilities are part of SVSU’s athletic complex.

FIRST Robotics teams that qualify for the state finals will arrive Wednesday, April 11 for inspection. The qualifying rounds of competition will take place throughout the day Thursday, April 13 and Friday, April 14. The playoff rounds will be Saturday, April 15 with the champion crowned that afternoon.

In each round, 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.

Major sponsors for the state championships include Consumers Energy, The Dow Chemical Company, DTE Energy and Ford Motor Company.

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About FIRST in Michigan: The FIRST Robotics Competition combines the excitement of a varsity sport with hands-on training in science and technology to help high school students discover how rewarding a career in engineering or technology can be. Remote-controlled robots, piloted by students and cheered on by thousands of screaming fans, go head-to-head in short games on the floor of a sports arena, battling it out to earn points during a two-minute round.