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Robotics Competition Draws Hundreds, Encourages STEM Education

Milt Radford

A group of students met Saturday at Wichita State University for the 13th annual Mindstorms Challenge, a Lego robotics competition. The challenge is designed to encourage students to study science, technology, engineering and math, while promoting teamwork.

The theme for the event was “The WuShock, an Unexpected Journey” with teams like The Bilbot Baggins of Andovershire.

“We started working the weekend they released the courses, which was mid-January, and we’ve been meeting at least a couple of times a week since then,” says Bob Elsburnd, a parent and team coach.

Baggins team member Evan Just says building the robot isn't terribly time consuming.

“But all the programming takes a long time,” he says.

The WSU School of Engineering is one of the competition sponsors and professor Larry Whitman says they've seen some of the kids from previous years major in engineering.

“Kids come here [and] learn about some math principles that actually has application,” he says.

Eric Mead has volunteered at this competition for seven years. He has seen growth in the number of participants.

“When it first started, you could see the same teams, the same schools year after year," he says.

"This year we have 31 teams involved. Some of the teams here have never been here before.” 

Spirit AeroSystems and Wichita State were co-sponsors of the competition.

More information is available at wichita.edu/mindstorms.