By Edward Cardenas

SOUTHFIELD (CBS Detroit) – Lawrence Technological University will host teams from across the United States Saturday in the first-ever World Robot Olympiad national finals.

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The competition, which is open to students from elementary school through high school, is a global LEGO Robotics competition started in Singapore in 2004.

“WRO is an event that brings young people from all over the world together,” said LTU Computer Science Professor CJ Chung, who has been appointed as the USA national organizer, in a release. “Teams of youngsters get the opportunity to learn more about STEM and develop their creative and problem-solving skills through various robotics challenges.”

The competition, which features teams from California, Oregon, Texas, New York, Illinois and Michigan, will be held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at LTU’s Don Ridler Field House, 21000 West 10 Mile Road, Southfield. It is open to the public, and free to attend.

Organizers said this year’s competition challenges student teams to build a robot to gather all “rocket” elements, assemble them in the correct order, and lift them with a launch mechanism.

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The Olympiad traces its roots back to Singapore in 2004. It has grown to include nearly 20,000 middle school and high school teams from 49 countries.

The winning team from Lawrence Technological University will be invited to attend the World Robot Olympiad in Sochi, Russia, to compete for gold, silver and bronze medals.

Participants will stay in the Olympic Village hotels and apartments.

“Being selected to represent your country really means something, and the American teams will be competing against the best teams from around the world,” Chung said in a release.  “Our country needs many more people with technology knowledge and skills, and student competitions like the WRO can help us achieve that goal.”

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Lawrence Tech stated that it was selected to lead WRO-USA because of his leadership role in LTU’s Robofest competition since 2000.