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GVSU to host 1,000 students for FIRST Robotics District Competition

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Grand Valley State University will play host to the “Varsity sport for the mind” in a couple days. 

The 'For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology', or 'FIRST' Robotics District Competition will take place in the Fieldhouse on the Allendale Campus, March 24 through 26.  President Haas will provide opening remarks. 

“It’s kind of like rock concert, meets Sweet 16 basketball, meets NASCAR, all in one place and the excitement level is just incredible.”

That’s Paul Plotkowski, talking about the upcoming FIRST Robotics District Competition.  He’s the Dean of the Padnos College of Engingeering and computing at GVSU. 

He’s also on the organizing committee for FIRST Robotics in West Michigan.   More than a thousand high school students on 41 teams from across the state will compete.

“The robots in this case have to be designed and built to go over obstacles to be able to launch, boulder and climb up a wall kind of thing. So, a lot of different functions the robot has to be able to do.”

While the robots are surely the vehicle for excitement, Plotkowski says it’s a comprehensive program.

“They basically create their own not for profit organization. That’s going to design, build ,test and deliver and compete with a robot,  they have to design a website and put together a safety program.”

Plotkowski says there’s a lot at stake in these competitions - such as millions of dollars in scholarships from private organizations and universities.

“The big part is, they know that students that participate in activities like this - [the students] know how to be effective, they know how to do teamwork. [Organizations offering scholarships] know [the students are] going to be successful in college.”

Winners of the competition being held at GVSU’s Allendale campus will move on to the state championship in April. 

Jennifer is an award winning broadcast news journalist with more than two decades of professional television news experience including the nation's fifth largest news market. She's worked as both news reporter and news anchor for television and radio in markets from Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo all the way to San Francisco, California.
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