On January 7th and 8th, 162 teams of students from around Marion County competed in the 5th Annual City of Indianapolis VEX Robotics Championship (IndyVRC). The competition was held in Nicoson Hall at the University of Indianapolis.
The first IndyVRC featured only 36 high school teams but demonstrated the possibilities of a robust, hands-on STEM education program. Now in its fifth year, the event has grown to more than 160 teams from elementary, middle, and high schools who compete for scholarships to Rose-Hulman, IUPUI, and University of Indianapolis, plus internships, advancement to the state finals, and the competition's top honor: the Ballard Excellence Award, renamed last year in recognition of Former Mayor Greg Ballard's contribution to STEM education in Indianapolis.
The IndyVRC’s success led to the newly formed Statewide Robotics Initiative, spearheaded by TechPoint Foundation for Youth with major support from funders and partners like Guggenheim Life and Annuity, Indiana Department of Workforce Development, Herbert Simon Family Foundation, Project Lead The Way, USA Funds, Eli Lilly and Company, and Roche Diagnostics. The two-year initiative will supply grants to 800 elementary schools throughout Indiana, giving them a robotics kit, teacher training, classroom activities, program support, and high intensity compeititons.
“Seeing so many Indiana students with access to a robotics team is truly a realization of Former Mayor Ballard’s dream when he first initiated the IndyVRC back in 2013,” said Laura Dodds, Executive Director of TechPoint Foundation for Youth. “The event started as a way to get robots into the hands of all Marion County students, and inspired an initiative that could expand that goal to all Hoosiers.”
Indianapolis is home to companies in need of a workforce skilled in advanced manufacturing, robotics, and technology, but the education pipeline from grade school to employment is often lacking. The IndyVRC was launched five years ago to accelerate the development of high-quality K-12 educational opportunities in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and help bridge the gap between workforce readiness and employer need. The Statewide Robotics Initiative is continuing to grow this concept on a larger scale, using the same IndyVRC model but starting at the elementary school level with the hope of working up the education ladder.
“The State Robotics Initiative was made possible after a huge kickstart from our partners at Department of Workforce Development and Guggenheim Life and Annuity,” said George Giltner, State Director of Robotics at TechPoint Foundation for Youth. “This initiative has catapulted Indiana into the position of a STEM education leader in our country, with more VEX elementary robotics teams than any other state, and we look forward to seeing how this impacts our future workforce.”
The VEX IQ State Championship is coming up on Saturday, February 25th and is still in need of volunteers - often with no experience required! To look at available positions and sign up, click here.
This year's IndyVRC was a huge success! Here's a look at the event by the numbers...
* denotes qualification for the State Championship
Ballard Excellence Award
High School VRC: 6210X Heritage Christian Robotics*
Middle School IQ: 323S Cornerstone Robotics North*
Elementary School IQ: 11106A Pleasant Run Elementary*
Guggenheim Life and Annuity Tournament/Teamwork Champions
High School VRC:
6210X Heritage Christian Robotics*
6210Z Heritage Christian School*
6078S Speedway High School*
Middle School IQ:
323S Cornerstone Robotics North*
20048A FTMS East - Robotics*
Elementary School IQ:
10992A Grassy Creek Elementary*
10404A Cold Spring School*
Indiana Workforce Development Design Award
High School VRC: 6842Z Park Tudor Middle School
Middle School IQ: 10272 Paramount School of Excellence*
Elementary School IQ: 10394A Indian Creek Elementary*
High School VRC: 6926V Providence Cristo Rey High School
Middle School IQ: 6210A Heritage Christian School
Elementary School IQ: 10990 Sycamore School
High School VRC: 323G Cornerstone Robotics
Middle School IQ: 20048D FTMS East - Robotics
Elementary School IQ: 10714B Center for Inquiry 2
Robot Skills Champion
High School VRC: 6210X Heritage Christian Robotics
Middle School IQ: 323S Cornerstone Robotics North
Elementary School IQ: 10990 Sycamore School
Roche Innovate Award
High School VRC: 7368W Covenant Christian High School
STEM Research Project Award
Middle School IQ: 1024V Fall Creek Valley Middle School*
Elementary School IQ: 10477 Paramount School of Excellence*
Middle School IQ: 10775 Sycamore School
Elementary School IQ: 38102X Sidener Academy Redhawk Robotics Grade 3-4
Volunteer of the Year Award
Jessica Cummings, Rolls-Royce