World-class robotics teams from the United States and Canada competed in the 2023 SCORE Showdown at the Great Wolf Lodge in LaGrange, Georgia from January 16-19, an event made possible by a generous $100,000 donation from Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama (HMMA ) was made possible.
HMMA’s donation is part of an ongoing partnership between HMMA and Auburn University’s Southeastern Center for Robotics Education (SCORE). This partnership provides students with robotics educational opportunities to increase their interest in science, technology, engineering and math or STEM, courses and careers, providing the future workforce for high-skilled jobs created by HMMA and other advanced manufacturers.
This year’s VEX Signature Event, hosted by Auburn University’s SCORE, a College of Sciences and Mathematics or COSAM outreach initiative, featured 179 student teams across three age levels who competed in the VEX Robotics Competition or VRC and the VEX IQ Challenge VIQC – the world’s largest and fastest growing robotics program for elementary, middle and high schools. About 1,000 students attended the four-day event.
On January 17, SCORE and COSAM invited HMMA’s leadership team to a VIP recognition event where Eric Wetzel, Associate Professor at the McWhorter School of Building at the College of Architecture, Design and Construction, presented Boston Dynamics-designed robotic dog Mac Science . In June 2021, Hyundai Motor Group acquired Boston Dynamics, marking a significant step toward Hyundai’s overall goal of “Progress for Humanity” by establishing a leading presence in the field of robotics.
After a check presentation ceremony at the VIP event, the HMMA leadership team toured the live robotics competition field to see the countless hours of practice, engineering redesign and student team collaboration put into action.
“Back in 2020, HMMA began their association with SCORE when they worked with us and Montgomery Public Schools to create the Hyundai Initiative for Robotics Excellence, or HIRE,” noted Robert Burns, HMMA vice president and chief administrative officer. “HMMA is honored to sponsor SCORE Showdown because the development of future innovators can take many different paths – in a classroom, in a lab, or in the dynamic atmosphere of a robotics competition. HMMA sees these robotics competitions as a logical place to encourage students to pursue a career in science, technology, engineering, robotics or mathematics.”
“For over 160 years, Auburn University has educated generations of scientists and engineers who have worked hard to improve the lives of citizens of Alabama and beyond,” said COSAM Interim Dean Ed Thomas. “COSAM is very proud to be working with Hyundai and we thank the Hyundai leadership for their generous support of the SCORE Showdown event by providing both their time and financial sponsorship. As the world’s leading manufacturer, Hyundai is a key member of the Central Alabama and Georgia community as an industry partner and strong supporter of science and engineering education. Your support of this event is another example of this commitment.
“As we take the opportunity to visit the students today, we can all celebrate our contribution to the development of the next generation of scientists and engineers.”
The SCORE Showdown differs from the other SCORE hosted robotics tournaments in Alabama as competing teams can earn a spot straight into the VEX World Championship at this VEX Signature Event, attracting teams from across the country.
The Redwood Robotics team of four traveled from Saratoga, California to compete in the middle school class of SCORE Showdown. When asked what robotics means to her, team member Katy said, “As a girl, I feel very integrated into my robotics team, and we have a lot of strong female leaders on our robotics teams. I feel heard in my robotics club.”
Four high schoolers from Team Jelly traveled to the SCORE Showdown from Groveland, Fla. with the goal of making it to the VEX World Championships for the eighth time.
“We all go to four different high schools, but our team meets in the middle of my living room on weekends and Wednesdays to work on robotics,” said Mattias Peroni, 17-year-old Jelly team member. “We love to compete here because we learn from the best robotics teams and it’s super fun to see the long hours of hard work pay off. The competition pushes us to do our best.”
His teammate and 15-year-old sister Cecilia Peroni remarked, “I love the practical application of robotics at this level of competition. It allows you to learn while you do it.”
This year’s SCORE Showdown was a celebratory opportunity for HMMA to see firsthand the remarkable impact its educational investments and partnerships are having in developing a diverse and skilled future workforce.