2018-07-18 / Editorial

Robo-Con shows off future leaders today

In today’s’ technology-driven world, it’s important now more than ever to prepare students for the future. Teaching robotics to young students throughout their schooling can increase their ability to be creative and innovative thinkers and more productive members of society.

To celebrate the contribution of robotics to modern day education in Lapeer County, and at the same time to inspire other students to consider robotics, this Saturday (July 21) is the fifth annual Robo-Con to be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Center for Innovation (formerly Lapeer West). The free, family-friendly event promises to be the biggest and best ever thanks to new hands-on activities and the first-ever official robotics competition hosted by two Lapeer County teams — StrikeZone and the Chimeras.

We’re proud at the View Newspaper Group (publisher of The County Press and Lapeer Area VIEW) to be the presenting sponsor of Robo-Con. The County Press is pleased to report on the effects of robotics in Lapeer County schools. Beyond competition, robotics opens a new universe of experience and educational and career opportunities to students who engage in them.

Our reporting has demonstrated that when students program robots, they learn the skills needed to create precise and accurate instructions and have fun while learning valuable lessons. Teaching robotics in schools gives students the opportunity to address the growing demand of teaching STEM subjects while learning how science, engineering, math, and technology work together and interact.

It’s no secret that jobs in the STEM field are the fastest growing careers, and are projected to grow another 17 percent in the next decade. Industries such as the drone industry has grown dramatically and rapidly in the last couple of years. The Economist has reported that more than 15,000 drones are being sold in the U.S. every month.

Not a lot of fields combine creativity with engineering and technology — robotics does. When students are given the opportunity to create something interactive that they think is cool, their engagement levels increase, and they retain more information. This excitement can be seen at Robo-Con on Saturday when the two Lapeer County teams host more than 20 robotics teams from around the state to compete in the main gym at CFI.

Robo-Con was initially started by the FIRST Robotics Lapeer Chimeras Team 1684. Mentor Tony Diodato and his team members conceived of a convention for surrounding schools and communities to come together, sharing information and technology, as well as competing against one another. They wanted to make the event free for the community to include as many people as possible, helping to shed light on their activities and exploits.

By the time all of our students graduate in a few years or so, over half of the available jobs will be in the STEM field and a large chunk of the rest will require employees to have some STEM knowledge. When students are introduced to robotics in their school years, they can discover any interests and talents that they may have in this job market. Without the knowledge or access to robotics education, there’s no way for students to build interest in these fields. Without robotics education in public schools, who knows how many potential creators and innovators there are who were never given the resources to realize their potential.

The STEM skills that robotics teach are great for inspiring tomorrow’s engineers, but also a sense of community. Teaching robotics in the classroom can create a sense of community within the classroom that expands to the outside community in which the students live. Through robotics, students can learn more than just how to code. They can learn skills in leadership, community involvement, communicating across different technology platforms, finding their passions, and teamwork, which will position them for success well beyond their school years.

We hope to see you at Robo-Con where tomorrow’s engineers are doing the work today here in Lapeer County in robotics education.

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