GV uses FIRST, History Day to recruit new students

GVL / Allison Young
GVSU was host to a statewide robotics competition.

Allison Young

GVL / Allison Young GVSU was host to a statewide robotics competition.

Samantha Belcher

Grand Valley State University hosted West Michigan high schoolers at two events this weekend: the FIRST Robotics District Competition and the Michigan History Day regional contest.

Jodi Chycinski, director of admissions, said GVSU hosts these events to expose high school students to the campus and university.

“We want families to have the opportunity to engage with our current Grand Valley students,” Chycinski said, adding that current students help to tell the story of the university.

She said parents and students are usually very impressed with the university’s employees and facilities, and that people usually do not realize what resources GVSU provides until they get here.

“We want to make sure [visitors] understand the value of a liberal education,” Chycinski said.

High school students from all over Michigan built basket-shooting robots to contend in the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) competition Friday and Saturday in the Fieldhouse Arena. About 40 teams and 1,500 to 1,600 people were involved with the competition.

Paul Plotkowski, dean of Padnos College of Engineering and Computing, said students had about six weeks to build and program their robots.

“[The competition] is like a varsity sport because people [teammates] depend on each other,” Plotkowski said, adding that students learn dedication and teamwork through the experience.

Plotkowski said the College of Engineering and Computing has many K-12 outreach programs to help children and teens live up to their potential as students.

Nikki Bonczyk, GVSU senior in the College of Engineering and Computing, said she participated in the event when she was a student at Holland Christian High School. After participating, she researched GVSU’s engineering program and decided to join the program.

This year, Bonczyk was a referee at the FIRST competition.

“[This event] is a way to learn in the best hands on experience,” she said.

And with GVSU’s dramatic increase in enrollment over the past few years, Plotkowski is attributing the rise to events like FIRST.

Bonczyk said being involved with these events gives students confidence and a sense of acceptance.

The Michigan History Day regional contest allowed about 230 students from 17 different West Michigan high schools and middle schools to research a historical event and create a presentation to be judged.

“This is something they will always have with them,” GVSU history professor Sean O’Neil said, adding that coming to GVSU is great exposure because they get to see the campus and talk to various professors.

“It’s not unusual for the history professors to learn something from the students,” O’Neil said.

He added that for many students, this is their first time on a college campus.

“We always get comments about the school,” the professor said. He added that some students who used to participate in the event are now GVSU Honors College students.

The top three presenters from each of the divisions will compete in the state competition at Central Michigan University on April 28.

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