First for FIRST at SVSU

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SVSU hosted the FIRST Robotics competition in the Ryder Center from April 12 to 15.

The event was the first competition of the championship circuit and featured nearly 5,000 students from 160 high schools around Michigan.

The competition was held from Wednesday, April 12, until Saturday, April 15. The event helps promote STEM fields within the different levels of academia.

7,500 people were estimated to attend, and that number reportedly was most likely reached as students and the public flocked to the Ryder to spectate the teams.

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder also attended the competition, saying on Twitter that he considers the event “a rock concert for nerds, because I’m a proud nerd myself.”

Large, Michigan-based companies such as the Dow Chemical Co. and Nexteer Automotive are big contributors to FIRST Robotics, which is part of the reason why the Great Lakes Bay Region is one of the fastest growing regions when it comes to the popularity of competitive robotics.

Executive Director of STEM at SVSU Carolyn Wierda felt that the competition had numerous perks both for the campus and the community.

“I think there were tremendous benefits,” Wierda said. “(It’s) a chance for high school students and their families to become familiar with our campus, students, faculty and staff. Also, we had a chance to become familiar with an exciting competition by seeing it first-hand.”

The event was seen as a financial success, but it also served as an opportunity for high school students to see what SVSU has to offer as far as its atmosphere and facilities.

“Any time we can have high school students on our campus, it is great for SVSU,” Wierda said. “Once the visitors are here, they see how beautiful the campus is, how friendly people are and what educational opportunities exist.”

In addition to competing in the Ryder Center, prior to their matches, the teams also were open to use the fieldhouse as their “pit” to make final tweaks and adjustments to their creations.

The competition itself included a rounds-based system in which three teams would compete with autonomous and remote-controlled robots to earn points.

Each team consisted of roughly 60 students and four mentors per team.

Throughout the competition, three teams would be randomly assigned to either the Red Alliance or Blue Alliance, which is the deciding factor of which teams compete against one another.

On the concluding day of the competition, two groups of three battled it out in the finals: the Fenton Titanium Tigers, the Leland Zebrotics, and the Kalamazoo Stryke Force representing the Red Alliance and the Bloomfield Hills Bionic Black Hawks, the Notre Dame Preparatory Killer Bees, and the Bloomfield Hills International Academy Las Guerrillas.

In the first round of the final, the Blue Alliance won with a score of 459 to 334 and continued its success in the next round, ending it all with a 499 to 205 victory.

In total, 12 teams moved on to the world competition, which took place this past weekend in Houston, Texas.

A lot had to go into planning of such a large-scale event on campus, but those involved felt that the competition went rather well as the week went on.

“The work was truly a team effort called together by Dr. Deb Huntley, provost and executive vice-president,” Wierda said.

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