Volunteers needed for SVSU’s FIRST robotics competition

Four-day event to bring 7,500 people to region

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SVSU is looking for students, faculty and staff to volunteer at the FIRST Robotics state competition that the university will host later this month.

The annual event, set for Wednesday, April 12, to Saturday, April 15, also will affect on-campus parking, transportation and wait times.

Organizers expect 160 teams and more than 7,500 people to visit the region for the competition.

“The FIRST Robotics event will be an opportunity for students, families and business partners from across the state of Michigan to come to campus,” said Carolyn Wierda, the executive director of STEM@SVSU. “The students will compete on four ‘courts’ inside O’Neill Arena and will prepare for these events inside the fieldhouse.”

SVSU President Donald Bachand on Monday, March 27, sent an email to the university community regarding the opportunity to become involved with the competition.

“We have a great need for volunteers,” Bachand said in the email. “We are looking for people to assist in greeting guests and making them feel welcome; we need others to direct visitors and help them find their way; we are still identifying some volunteer duties. This is the first time that this event has been held on a college campus. FIRST in Michigan also has expanded the field this year. We are in near daily communication with organizers, so we continue to better understand exactly where volunteers will be needed most. If you can help, we will have a place for you.”

Furthermore, information has been sent out to student organizations.

Wierda said students can volunteer to be hospitality hosts for the competition. Those volunteers will greet visitors, assist FIRST robotics teams to answer questions about the campus, and act as bus tour guides from the parking lots off campus.

“All volunteers will wear an identifiable t-shirt and be asked to be the face of this great university during the competition,” Wierda said. “The benefits of volunteering are many: the chance to share your SVSU experience with our many visitors, an opportunity to meet new SVSU friends, a t-shirt and a $25 Barnes and Noble gift card.”

To volunteer, visit svsu.edu/firstvolunteers and select a shift.

From a parking perspective, it is suggested that members of the SVSU community avoid using Davis Road on the afternoon of Wednesday, April 12.

Teams will be unloading and setting up their robots from 4 p.m. until 8:30 p.m. Other than Davis Road, the rest of the campus should experience the regular amount of traffic.

The competition begins the next day, which is a full day of classes for SVSU students.

“We expect some traffic congestion and suggest that students allow extra time to get to their classes,” Wierda said. “Some teams will be arriving on school buses. We are working with FIRST in Michigan to encourage teams and families to park at the north end of Fashion Square Mall, as STARS will be providing a continuous shuttle service from 7 a.m. until 10:30 p.m. The service will be available to students, as well, free of charge.”

Students who live on campus are encouraged to walk to class Thursday to reduce the traffic volume.

The competition continues Friday and Saturday, but with few classes and many students returning home for Easter weekend, parking and traffic difficulties are not expected.

There will be sponsors inside and outside the Ryder Center, and competitors and their families will have the opportunity to explore campus through tours and programs sponsored by SVSU colleges such as Health and Human Services, Education and Science, Engineering and Technology. A cafeteria will be set up in the Hamilton Gymnasium.

“Hosting FIRST is a huge opportunity for our campus community and the Great Lakes Bay Region as well,” Wierda said. “We are expecting 4,000 to 7,000 students, parents and visitors each day. We will be demonstrating our commitment to STEM careers with our dedicated faculty and business partners. In addition to campus tours. We plan to provide opportunities for competitors and their families to meet with admissions staff and offer FIRST Robotics scholarships to those who qualify.”