GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The robotics showcase drew crowds Saturday for the last day of Confluence Festival in Grand Rapids.
The FIRST Robotics teams have become a favorite at the festival, which focuses on innovations in areas like design, technology and art.
The teams provided a demo in Rosa Parks Circle, using robots to lift and move cones.
Aidan Ferrone started getting involved with robotics in sixth grade and is now a senior in high school. He said the program has really had an impact on his career aspirations.
“I want to get into being an electrician, or HVAC, or welding,” Ferrone said.
Wendy Ljungren, a coach and mentor with Red Storm Robotics, told News 8 the program helps encourage more students to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math.
“You have to be creative to have a good technical solution. … The design needs to fit together well, and that’s where Confluence is highlighting that,” Ljungren said.
Ljungren said the skills they develop help former students be successful when they enter the workplace and college.
“They get that confidence that yes, I can do it, I can build it,” Ljungren said. “And then when they go to college, a lot of them think college is really easy, because they’ve had the experience doing the design and the construction. They know what to expect on how to get things done on a very tight timeline.”
Brian Cohen, the executive director of Confluence, sees a lot of potential in continuing the robotics tradition at the festival.
“Confluence is finishing up our third year now. We introduced robotics last year as a new addition,” Cohen said. “Confluence is a festival about innovation, so we want to constantly innovate as well. So every year, we add new additions. We did robots last year. It was so hugely successful that we knew we wanted to bring it back in a bigger way this year.”