By Edward Cardenas

SOUTHFIELD (CBS Detroit) – Three local high school students will be heading to Russia to compete Nov. 21-23 in the World Robot Olympiad.

The three students from Canton and Northville will leave on Nov. 19 to represent the United States for the first time in the event, which was founded in 2004.

Charles Liu, a junior at Canton Salem High School, and Christopher Geng and James Xue, both juniors at Northville High School, competed as the Robocruisers E team and took first place in the Open Senior category competition at the national finals held Sept. 27 at Lawrence Technological University.

The students were among more than 20,000 competitors from elementary school through college in 50 countries who used LEGOS, Tetrix, and other kits to build autonomous robots that perform multiple tasks.

The trio from Michigan were one of nine teams which qualified to represent the United States, and one of six teams from Michigan, at the Olympiad in Sochi, Russia.

“Through information gathering, hardware building and programming in developing the SSP demo model, our team experienced a valuable problem-solving process by learning how to choose a subject, make and execute a plan through time management and effective team work, and present to the judges and the public,” said team captain Liu, in a release.

Open Senior teams designed and built a conceptual model of a robotic system that can assist humankind in solving tasks in space, according to a release. The Robocruisers S robotic model, “Space Solar Power (SSP) – Saddle the Sun, and Ride into the Future” – is a “space satellite” that would capture energy from the sun’s rays and transfer the power down to Earth wirelessly.

The team stated their educational robotics system was “designed to raise awareness of energy and environmental challenges and encourage people to think of possible solutions.”

“WRO is an event that brings young people from all over the world together,” said Chung, the founder and director of Robofest at LTU, said 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.”

Cadillac is supporting Robocruisers S as the lead team for Cadillac, as well as other teams going to Russia.

“Cultivating a strong workforce in STEM fields will be essential to the sustainability of the automotive industry,” said Cadillac Executive Chief Engineer David Leone, in a release. “Many of the skills developed in this competition are the same critical skills these young people will need once they enter the work force. We hope sponsoring the U.S. teams competing at the World Robot Olympiad helps fuel the excitement these students have for the STEM subjects.”


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