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Robofest to name global winners Oct. 2, plans return to in-person competition for 2022

Release Date: September 27, 2021
robofestThe pre-pandemic Robofest 2019 competition

LTU photo / Matt Roush.

SOUTHFIELD—Lawrence Technological University’s Robofest, the only global robotics competition that has continued operations during the pandemic, will name its worldwide winners for 2021 in an online ceremony Saturday, Oct. 2.

The presentation begins at 8:15 a.m. Eastern time.

Jay Jessen, Assistant Director of LTU’s Marburger STEM Center, will serve as master of ceremonies for the Oct. 2 event. Tarek Sobh, LTU’s provost and chief academic officer, will provide remarks and present sponsor and special awards.

Robofest was created by C.J. Chung, Lawrence Tech professor of mathematics and computer science, in 1999 to emphasize the importance of computer programming in robotics. Unlike other robotics competitions, Robofest has low barriers to entry—the basic robot kit required to compete costs less than $400, and the entry fee for teams is just $75.  

Robofest consists of several competitions. There’s a Game event that changes every year to keep the competition fresh, along with an Exhibition category in which students are free to dream up a task for a robot, and design a robot to accomplish it. Other competitions include RoboMed, in which students create robots to provide health care services; the VisionCentric Challenge, in which students create advanced computer vision projects; BottleSumo, in which robots try to push 2-liter bottles and then each other off a table; RoboArts, in which students design robots to provide artistic performances like music or dance; RoboParade, in which students create an autonomous “parade float” to follow other floats on a parade route; and the Unknown Mission Challenge, in which students aren’t given the task they must program their robots to accomplish until competition day.

This year’s Game, “StackRolls,” has students design robots to stack rolls of toilet paper into a target area on a six-foot picnic table.

Since its creation, some 30,000 elementary, middle school, high school, and college students have participated in Robofest competitions, representing dozens of nations around the world. This year, more than 800 students from five U.S. states, four Canadian provinces, and 17 other countries participated: Colombia, Ecuador, Egypt, Ghana, Greece, Hong Kong, India, Jordan, Macau, Mexico, Morocco, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Taiwan, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen. Today, Robofest is led by Christopher Cartwright, director, a professor of mathematics and computer science at LTU, along with Elmer Santos, assistant director, Shannan Palonis, coordinator, and Pam Sparks, coordinator.

Robofest has continued its competitions online during the pandemic, with judges following scoring rubrics just as they would in person. Robofest is tentatively planning a return to in-person competitions for 2022, beginning in February, with a world championship weekend of various events May 12-14, 2022 at Lawrence Tech’s Southfield campus.

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 11 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 100 student organizations and NAIA varsity sports.


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