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Indiana Robotics Invitational Draws Teams from Across the Country
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Indiana Robotics Invitational Draws Teams from Across the Country

July 15, 2013 | 08:23 AM

The fourteenth annual Indiana Robotics Invitational is set to take place this Friday and Saturday, July 19th and 20th, at Lawrence North High School in Indianapolis. The event is free and open to the public and the final elimination tournaments begin at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday.

The IRI is a two-day, off-season FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) robotics event for FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) level teams, which are comprised of high school students. These FRC teams expose students to the excitement of competitive robotics, inspiring many to continue on to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) career pathways.

"A unique component of the IRI is the focus on local community support," commented Chris Fultz, President of IndianaFIRST and head of the planning committee for IRI. "Each team brings a backpack filled with supplies for an elementary school student, a silent auction raises funds to support child and youth focused charities in central Indiana, and local companies sponsor college scholarships—including one that is targeted at those planning to go into a teaching career. Since 2004, the IRI has donated over $28,000 to charity, over 850 backpacks to students, and provided more then $28,000 in college scholarships."

The Indiana Robotics Invitational, originally nicknamed "Hoosier Havoc," was first held in Kokomo in May of 2000 and 21 teams attended. Over the years, the event's popularity has grown to the point that attendance is now by invitation only. This year, of the 114 teams that applied to compete at IRI, 69 teams from 23 states in the U.S. and two providences in Canada were chosen to come to Indianapolis.

IRI is truly a premier event in the world of FIRST robotics; in effect, it is the all-star event for FRC teams. Along with its popularity among robotics teams from across the country, IRI also boasts some especially impressive statistics. This year alone, those on the list of attendees include eight of the top ten ranked teams in the world as well as four of the six teams that competed in the final match of the World Championships earlier this year.

And they're all eager to come to Indianapolis, which can only help as the city prepares to bid for the opportunity to host the FIRST World Championships in 2015, 2016, and 2017. Held in St. Louis for the past three years with a fourth and final year approaching next Spring, this event would draw almost 30,000 people to the Circle City, adding to an already vibrant downtown with proven experience hosting student-focused events like the Drum Corps International World Championships, National FFA Convention, and JAMfest Cheer Super Nationals, not to mention Super Bowl XLVI. With this many top-tier FIRST robotics teams already clamoring to come to Indianapolis for the Indiana Robotics Invitational, it's no stretch to imagine a similar buzz around Indianapolis as the host city for FIRST Worlds.

For more information on the Indiana Robotics Invitational and to see the schedule of events, please visit the website at www.IndianaRoboticsInvitational.org.


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