Women’s tech group now sponsoring 10 all-girl Robofest teams

SOUTHFIELD—The Michigan Council of Women in Technology Foundation has increased the number of all-girl teams it is sponsoring in Robofest, a competition for student-programmed autonomous robots invented by Lawrence Technological University computer science professor C.J. Chung.

The MCWTF will now sponsor 10 Robofest teams with $500 grants that the teams can use toward supplies, robot sensors, entrance fees, computers, or other expenses. The donation is sufficient to make the foundation, which has supported Robofest since 2005, a gold-level sponsor of Robofest.

Local Robofest competitions begin around the country in March. The World Robofest Championship, which draws hundreds of competitors from all corners of the globe, will be held May 14-16 on the LTU campus in Southfield.

Teams sponsored by the MCWTF hail from Gallimore Elementary in Canton Township; Henry Ford Academy in Dearborn; Duke Ellington Conservatory of Music and Art at Beckham Academy, Madison Carver Academy, and University Prep Science and Math High School, all in Detroit; Farmington STEAM Academy in Farmington Hills; Hart Middle School in Rochester; Southfield Christian School; Syring Elementary in Swartz Creek; and Warren Woods Christian School in Warren.

“The mission of the MCWT Foundation is to inspire and grow girls and women in technology,” said Chris Rydzewski, executive director of MCWT. “By increasing our scholarships to support 10 Robofest teams this year, we continue to expand our reach and increase our impact. Since 2005, we have granted 87 scholarships benefiting nearly 400 girls.”

The all girl team from Ghana that won the 2019 Robofest Game Senior (high school) Division. LTU photo by Matt Roush.

LTU’s Robofest is a robotics contest in which fifth through 12th grade students design, construct and program robots while learning problem-solving techniques, mathematics, logic, creativity, physics, electronics, mechanics, teamwork, and computer programming. The event includes a game, such as robot golf or baseball, which changes every year to keep the competition fresh, as well as competitions for robots involved in the arts, medical care, and other fields. There’s also an Exhibition category in which students can choose any task, then design and program a robot to accomplish it.

Robofest differs from other robotics competitions in that all robots are completely autonomous, controlled only by student-written computer code. Another difference: Robofest allows students to use any robotics system, and even custom electronics. There are also low barriers to entry, with a team registration fee of only $50 and a basic robot kit that starts at only $300, with grants available for those costs. Since 1999, more than 28,000 students have competed in Robofest, including teams from 15 of the United States and 28 other nations.

To learn more, and for sponsorship information, visit www.robofest.net.

Lawrence Technological University, www.ltu.edu, is a private university founded in 1932 that offers more than 100 programs through the doctoral level in its Colleges of Architecture and Design, Arts and Sciences, Business and Information Technology, and Engineering. PayScale lists Lawrence Tech among the nation’s top 15 percent of universities for the salaries of its graduates, and U.S. News and World Report lists it in the top tier of best Midwestern universities. Students benefit from small class sizes and a real-world, hands-on, “theory and practice” education with an emphasis on leadership. Activities on Lawrence Tech’s 107-acre campus include more than 60 student organizations and NAIA varsity sports.

The Michigan Council of Women in Technology Foundation, www.mcwt.org, is the charitable arm of the MCWT, founded in 2000 to inspire and grow women in technological careers. It has awarded more than $1 million in college scholarships in the STEM fields, and conducts summer tech camps for girls, career mentoring programs, and other events and competitions.

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