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Aurora Open robotics will have an international flair

January 29, 2018

Annual competition sponsored this year by NPPD

Columbus, Neb. – Robotic competitions for high schools and middle schools have become nearly a weekly event as Nebraska schools square up in these types of competitions on a regular basis throughout the school year.  But Saturday’s Aurora CREATE Open robotics competition is expected to go international for the first time.

Several teams from China are expected to take part in this event for the first time and will be among the 37 competing teams. The Aurora Open is sponsored by Nebraska Public Power District with the CREATE Foundation, an Omaha organization, facilitating competition. Youth Engaged in Technology & Innovation non-profit (Y.E.T.I.) from Aurora, is the local host of the event.

“For the first time we will have some international competition in Aurora,” said NPPD Energy Education Specialist Chad Johnson, who also doubles as the leader of the YETI group. “This event gives teams the opportunity to earn season long points as part of the CREATE Open powered by China Cup Series. Teams not only get points towards a championship trophy but can be selected to go on a robotics cultural exchange trip to China.”

Besides the teams from China, other participants will include the host YETIbotics team from Aurora, Omaha North High School, York Middle School, Benson High School, Waverly High School, Holdrege schools, St. Paul Public Schools, Nebraska Christian, Columbus High School, St. Edwards Public Schools, Valley Heights from Blue Rapids, Kan., Cross County Robotics, Lakeview High School, Axtell and Hampton schools. Several schools sport multiple teams.

The competition will be held at the Hamilton County Fairgrounds located at 310 A Street in Aurora. Team check-ins begin at 7:30 a.m. and inspections and a skills challenge competition start at 8 a.m. Qualification matches begin at 11:30 a.m., run until 5 p.m., when the awards ceremony will be conducted.

The Open robotics competition plays the same game as the standard VEX robotics competition, however this event is not restricted to VEX parts for the robot. There are a few rules changes that allow for any robot platform to compete on the same field with each other. “The open competition encourages more innovation, adds the ability to venture into more electrical engineering, isn’t just plug and play electronics, and offers a next level of learning above the standard robotics kits,” Johnson pointed out.

The NPPD China Cup Series uses a season long points system just like the NASCAR Cup Series. Teams get points for winning, certain awards, and skills scores, etc. Over the course of the season teams accumulate points, and in the end, the team with the most points wins the traveling trophy provided by NPPD. The China exchange program participation is offered to the top two point earning teams and, with the next 10 put into a lottery system for three additional spots. The CREATE Foundation will take these five teams to China as a part of the exchange, although the teams have to foot most of the cost of travel.