International robotics competition being held in the Pine Belt

Robotics competition underway in Laurel
Published: Mar. 16, 2023 at 5:38 PM CDT
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LAUREL, Miss. (WDAM) - More than 30 teams are at the Magnolia Center in Laurel for the inaugural FIRST Robotics Magnolia Regional Competition this Friday and Saturday.

Thursday was a practice round for the teams.

This international competition invited high school students from Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, Texas, Missouri, Tennessee and Mexico.

Petal High School’s robotics Team Hero will represent the Pine Belt this year.

Tenth grader Boston Mulvany joined Petal’s robotic team last year.

Mulvany said the team puts a lot of time into designing and building the robot.

“It usually takes about six weeks. Sometimes --towards the end-- we stay longer, extra days,” Mulvany said. “Usually it’s two hours a day, three times a week.”

Each team starts building its robot from scratch—programming and designing it to complete the challenges for that year’s competition within a six-week timeframe. But students learn more than just programming on the robotics team.

“It has boosted my confidence,” Mulvany said. “It has made me socially stronger.”

Last year, more than 80,000 students from 26 countries took part in this competition.

These students have a chance at earning more than $80 million in scholarships.

Petal High School ninth grader Chloe Dedeaux said being on the team opens up opportunities for students interested in science, technology, engineering and math.

“I’ve learned a lot about how to use our tools, and I’ve learned a lot about engineering—how to put my ideas in motion,” Dedeaux said.

Petal will be put to the test over the next two days of competition.

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