GRANDVILLE, Mich. (WOOD) — With the start of the school year quickly approaching, Grandville Public Schools is gearing up for the opening of its new competitive robotics center on Aug 15.

The facility is the first of its kind in the country, according to Doug Hepfer, Head Coach of Robo Dawgs.

“It’s such a great testament to what people have built over 25 years,” said Hepfer. “And it speaks to where the future is going to be.”

The robotics team has been a part of Grandville Public Schools for years. The first team began in 1998 and has been growing ever since.

Today, the program consists of more than 100 teams, with over 700 students. The teams include students from second grade up until graduation. The robotics program is also the biggest extracurricular activity in the district.

“If you look at the support we’ve built over the years, it’s astounding to me to look where our graduates go,” said Hepfer. “Because we graduate kids who get college scholarships, who get good jobs, people want to become Robo Dawgs.”

With the grand opening of the new facility, Bradford White Corporation has made a $125,000, five-year commitment to support the program.

“We are thrilled to be partnering with Grandville Public Schools and to provide funding that will positively impact the students in Michigan through meaningful workforce development training and education and exposure to industry careers,” said Rebecca Owens, Bradford White Corporation Senior Communications Manager.

Grandville Public Schools Superintendent Roger Bearup said the program gives students the opportunities they may not get elsewhere.

“I just feel honored and blessed to be a part of such a great district,” he said. “A district with great community support and such a phenomenal program.”