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Students from the Jackson Area Career Center Team, The Jacktown Vectors, compete in the 2019 First Robotics Final Round Competition at Northwest High School.  Photo by Patrick Gerweck, JTV.

Hundreds of Michigan high school students pioneering the next generation of robotics will visit Spring Arbor University (SAU) on March 5-7 to compete in Jackson County’s second annual FIRST in Michigan District Robotics Competition.

The Star Wars-themed competition is sponsored by Consumers Energy and is the first event of its kind for SAU. The FIRST robotics competition is a three-day event that is free to the public and located in the McDonald Athletic Center at SAU.

“SAU is excited to partner with FIRST Robotics and Consumers Energy to bring high schoolers from across the state to this event. We see this as an excellent opportunity to help promote robotics and STEM programs,” says Ron Delap, Dean of the School of Engineering.

“These students are building and competing with machinery that makes them stand out from their peers in our state and across the nation. This is a showcase for the next generation of scientists, engineers and problem-solvers right here in our community,” said Roger Curtis, Consumers Energy’s vice president for public affairs.

“We’re thrilled to sponsor this competition in our hometown and join forces with Spring Arbor University. This is a launching pad for many of these students to compete at the state championship next month in Saginaw.”

Forty high school robotics teams from Michigan will compete, with teams ranging from five to 35 people. Teams will display their skills in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) as they contend for a variety of awards.

According to Spring Arbor University, hosting the 2020 FIRST Robotics competition is a strategic decision for SAU as it connects directly with the strategic priority to grow STEM programming. Students with STEM experience are expected to be in high demand by Consumers Energy and other Michigan companies that are innovating and expanding when they enter the workforce.

Eight local teams participating in the Jackson District competition previously competed at the 2019 FIRST world competition in Detroit — the Jacktown Vectors (Jackson County ISD), FullMetal-Jackets (Concord), The Greenhills Lawnmowers (Ann Arbor), Lightning Robotics (Canton), The H.E.R.O.E.S (Hillsdale), Tractor Technicians (Mason), the Panther Powered Robotics (Stockbridge) and the Bedford Express (Temperance).

Learn more about the Jackson weekend competition and FIRST in Michigan at  http://firstinmichigan.us/FRC/jackson/.

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