COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) — The Muscogee County School District hosted a FIRST Robotics Super Regional competition at Spencer High School on Saturday.

The regional event brought together students from 10 different counties across the state of Georgia – as law makers continue to invest in STEM programs for the youth. 

FIRST, or For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology, is an international youth organization that coordinates robotics competitions for students who are interested in STEM studies. 

The Muscogee County School District and Columbus State University received $4 million dollars to expand robotics education — opening the doors for these students to more resources and opportunities.

“And they have now the resources and the opportunity to really develop their talents so that we in the United States of America will be able to compete favorably in the global marketplace in the years to come,” said U.S. Congressman Sanford Bishop.

Congressman Bishop and Senator Jon Ossoff worked together on the funding. From speaking with students, Congressman Bishop says competitions like these highlight student’s potential to grow their talents in the STEM field.

“This definitely proves that we have some of the best, some of the brightest, some of the most creative and ingenious young people anywhere in the world right here in our area,” said Congressman Bishop. 

Students competed in Robot Performance, Robot Design, Core Values and Innovation Projects. 

Mario Vargas, 14, joined the robotics program 2 years ago. He said it’s a nice outlet that allows him to design, build and program robots with his peers – all while being in an inclusive environment.

“In most schools or academics, there are not that many Hispanics, what I found out in many clubs that I’ve participated in,” said Vargas. “It’s very nerve wracking being different from everyone. But I’ve noticed in this particular event, in clubs, especially in robotics …they don’t judge. It’s pretty nice.”

Vargas and his team, Rowdy Rangers, ended up winning the Champions Trophy in the first competition, which is the highest award for this event. In the afternoon competition, students from Thomas County Middle School took the same award home, back to Thomasville. 

Volunteers for the event include CSU professors, Fort Benning Robotics experts, community robotics experts and MCSD administrative staff.

Here is the full list of winners from Saturday’s FIRST Robotics Super Regional dual tournament:

Morning Competition:

  • Champions Trophy: Rowdy Rangers, Veterans Memorial Middle School, Columbus, GA
  • Robot Performance: Green Explorers, Moreland Elementary, Moreland, GA
  • Innovation Project: Richards Robotics, Richards Middle School, Columbus, GA
  • Robot Design: AMA Robotics, Arnold Middle School, Columbus, GA
  • Core Values: LEGO Chargers, Gentian Elementary School, Columbus, GA

Afternoon Competition:

  • Champions Trophy: TCMS Volts, Thomas County Middle School, Thomasville, GA
  • Robot Performance: Norse Uprising, Taylor County Middle School, Butler, GA
  • Innovation Project: Lee County Engineers Superstars, Lee County School District, GA
  • Robot Design: Turner Woods Elementary School, Gray, Georgia
  • Core Values: LPE Lakers, Lake Park Elementary School, Lake Park, GA