Indianapolis hosts robotics competition to prepare teens for global, tech world

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Warren Central High School is one of 88 area middle and high schools that will participate in the second annual VEX Robotics Championship that will be held inside Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard is behind the event as are several big name corporate sponsors who have said they want to get our youth prepared to compete in a global and technical World.

“We saw these VEX pieces, ant it intrigued me,” said Vincent McClard, a Warren Central High School Junior, who is a member of the ‘digital goats,’ the school’s robotics team.

McClard and his teammates have been working hard for months to build a robot out of a kid donated by the competition’s corporate sponsors.

“All of the concepts you have been learning in the science and math fields finally have a place. You can apply it as a high school student,” said Brian Wyatt, another student.

Roche Diagnostics, the World’s largest biotech company, is the primary sponsor, but a long list of other companies and organizations have contributed: Lumina Foundation, Eli Lilly, USA Funds, Employ Indy, Rolls Royce, the REC Foundation, Project Lead The Way, the Techpoint Foundation For Youth, NCAA, Ivy Tech, IUPUI, Butler University, Rose-Hulman, Collina Ventures, ms consulting, Allison Transmission, United Consulting, Steve and Donna Jones, Health and Hospital Corporation, Conexus, the Capital Improvement Board, Interactive Intelligence, and many others.

“We changed the trajectory of their lives through this competition, and that is extremely important. They realize they can do other things,” said Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard about students who competed in the competition last year.

Mayor Ballard said he and other city officials had been talking about creating this local competition for years, and now it is the largest of its kind in the country in its second year.

“We have had some who have struggled in their academic classes, but they come into a class like this and shined. Yes, we see that all of the time,” said Randy Decker, a Warren Central High School teacher and coach of the ‘digital goats.’ He started the program several years ago inside the high school’s career center.

Students say science, technology, engineering and math all play a role throughout the process; These are subjects that they are now interested in pursuing.

“I’m going to school for mechanical engineering,” said Ellie Honilus, a Warren Central senior.

“Ivy league, hopefully, and from there, I want to join the force, go to SWAT and become an engineer,” said Martravius Whitfield, a sophomore, who has also built a robot for the competition.

The top teams will quality for the world championships where they will compete with more than 700 teams from across the United States and more than 20 countries. Local college scholarships will also be awarded.

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