Hundreds Compete at Robotics Tournament at UVA - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Hundreds Compete at Robotics Tournament at UVA

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Hundreds of Virginia middle and high school students went head to head Saturday in a fierce robotics competition at the University of Virginia.

The teams were vying for a spot in the Virginia state championship, and learning about science, engineering, technology and math along the way.

"The learning experience is amazing - you get to come to these competitions and you get to watch other people with the same love that you have," said Olivia Slater.

Slater joined her community's robotics team four years ago. Now, it's her passion.

"It's just fun to have people get excited about the stuff that they're doing and we're all usually happy to be there, nobody's forced to be there, we enjoy each other's company, we enjoy working together," Slater said.

Slater is learning not just mechanics, but teamwork, trial and error, and communication skills.

The goal of robotics is to get young students interested in science, technology, engineering and math.

"It's difficult for young people, especially those that don't know engineers, to have a sense of the work that they do," said George Cahen, a UVA engineering professor. "So by participating in robotics competitions, they actually get to participate in the design process as well as the building and ultimate utilization of those robots that they design and build."

Slater says before robotics, she never thought about a career in science. Now, she's looking at engineering schools.

"I would like to go into mechanical engineering and I think aerospace engineering would be super fun," Slater said.

In five years, she could enter a work force where engineers - especially female engineers - are in high demand. And she'll take with her what she's learned here.

"It's just amazing what you can accomplish," she said.

Slater and her team qualified for the Virginia state national championship at their last tournament.

On Saturday they won first place in an alliance with the Orange County High School and Western Albemarle High School teams.

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