Robotics competition comes to Kennesaw State

KENNESAW, Ga. (April 13, 2016) —Thirty-five high school teams from around the state gathered…

Georgia (Apr 13, 2016)

KENNESAW, Ga. (April 13, 2016) Thirty-five high school teams from around the state gathered at the Kennesaw State University Convocation Center over the weekend to compete in GeorgiaFIRST Robotics Peachtree District Qualifier, bringing each team one step closer to state competition.

This is the first time that the district qualifier for GeorgiaFIRST Robotics has been held at Kennesaw State.

“We held regional events with Southern Polytechnic State University for five years, but this is a new model moving to district qualifier events, and it is a partnership we wanted to expand,” said Connie Haynes, executive director of GeorgiaFIRST Robotics. “For the students, this robotics competition is a taste of what they’ll move on to in college in learning how to communicate, and that’s a huge skill for them to be ready for the workforce.”

Each team designed, funded and built a 120-pound robot that maneuvered its way through an obstacle course, picking up team points for moving balls into designated zones, much like shooting a basketball into a hoop, during the 2½-minute game.

Besides the hundreds of high school students and fans in attendance, area industry leaders from companies such as Novelis, Dow and GE served as judges, and nearly 120 Kennesaw State students volunteered to help run the competition’s operations. 

Kyle Fender, a KSU mechatronics major, was one of the emcees for the event and has been involved in the GeorgiaFIRST Robotics organization since he attended nearby Wheeler High School.

“I’d like to sow into these high school students, what was sowed into me when I was younger, and I can do that as an emcee,” said Fender, who serves on GeorgiaFIRST’s regional planning committee. “This competition also pushes KSU into the spotlight, and high school students see KSU as a destination for any degree.”

While the arena is the highlight of the competition, each student team has to formally present their project to the judges, outlining their team’s funding and design.

Ed Barker, assistant director of Advanced Computing Services at Kennesaw State, was instrumental in bringing the FIRST Robotics event to the Kennesaw Campus. He directs the Kell Robotics Community Team, which consists of members from five area high schools, and also serves on the National Science Teacher Association, which works to advance STEM learning outside of school.

“Young students stay highly motivated by being involved in these robotics teams and competitions,” Barker said. “Bringing this competition to Kennesaw State, and bringing K-12 students onto campus shows them what the University has to offer in its commitment to advancing STEM education.”


- Tiffany Capuano; photos courtesy of GeorgiaFIRST

GeorgiaFIRST Robotics


A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its nearly 43,000 students. With 11 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 6 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit