Robofest Returns To LTU

SOUTHFIELD — Early spring means that it’s Robofest season – all over the world.

Robofest is a festival of competitions and events with autonomous robots that encourages students – from fifth grade to college – to have fun, while learning the principles of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), along with computer science.

Students design, construct and program the robots, which operate entirely autonomously in seven different styles of competition. Unlike other competitions that require a particular kind of robot kit be used, Robofest participants are free to use any robotics kits or components that they choose. Competitions are arranged at the junior (5th-8th grade), senior (9th-12th grade) or collegiate levels.

The international competition was designed and developed by Lawrence Technological University Professor CJ Chung, Ph.D.

Since 2000, nearly 18,000 students from around the world have competed in Robofest.

The Michigan Robofest championship will be held Saturday, April 30 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Lawrence Tech’s Southfield campus. The Robofest World Championship will be held Friday and Saturday, May 13 and 14, also at LTU.

Michigan preliminary competitions coming up in the weeks ahead are:
* Saturday, March 19, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Bethany Christian School, Troy
* Tuesday, April 5, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, part of Michigan Robotics Day
* Thursday, April 7, 1 to 5 p.m., Emerson Elementary/Middle School, Detroit
* Friday, April 8, 5 to 9 p.m., University of Detroit Jesuit High School, Detroit
* Saturday, April 9, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Gallimore Elementary School, Canton Township
* Saturday, April 9, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Achieve Charter Academy, Canton Township
* Saturday, April 9, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Canton Charter Academy, Canton Township
* Thursday, April 14, 5 to 9 p.m., William D. Ford Career Technical Center, Westland
* Saturday, April 16, 2-7 p.m. Oakland County Executive Building, Waterford Township
* Saturday, April 16, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Wayne County Community College District Western Campus, Belleville

Competitions for this year’s world championship are being held in 11 U.S. states, as well as in Canada, China, Egypt, India and Lebanon. Chung said Robofest growth has been especially strong in India, where there are four regional competitions this year, and in China, where the event is now covered by major newspapers such as China Daily.

Chung teaches coding courses for computer science majors in LTU’s College of Arts and Sciences, as well as for LTU’s robotic engineering program in its College of Engineering, a degree that combines mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, and computer science. Chung says events like Robofest do a great job of teaching computer science – which is increasingly a graduation requirement in high schools – in a way that shows students the practical applications of the concepts they’re learning.

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