Virginia students face off for robotics competition in Blacksburg

They competed in the FIRST Chesapeake District Tournament

BLACKSBURG, Va. – Hundreds of hours of designing and building led to this — the battle of the robots.

Thousands of high school students from across the Commonwealth put their robots to the test this weekend at the FIRST Chesapeake Robotics District Event at Blacksburg High School.

Blacksburg High School junior Abigail Lafon is her third year of competing with 401c Robotics in Blacksburg.

“I kinda just jumped headfirst into it,” Lafon said. “I absolutely loved the program, I absolutely loved robotics.”

Lafon says she has seen more women in robotics over the past few years. She even mentored an all-girls team that competed at the tournament this weekend.

“It’s getting much more inclusive,” she said.

Martinsville Stags Robotics Coach Joanie Petty says robotics opens up career fields in science, engineering, technology and mathematics for students.

“Kids that participate in robotics tend to move on to higher education and choose fields that are in S.T.E.M. or similar focus areas that then advance them into jobs,” Petty said.

Petty says her students take the lead on everything they do.

“They fabricated, created, and tested this robot that complete the tasks that are required in this year’s game,” Petty said.

Lafon says she’s gained a lot of skills from competing.

“You get to work with other teams, as well as soft skills like interviewing as well as speaking to judges and things,” Lafon said.

Lafon says robotics has set her up for the future.

“This is definitely going to help me in the future because it’s given me so many opportunities as well as just skills. Like I said I have incredibly amazing technical skills that are from this,” she said.

About the Author:

Abbie Coleman officially joined the WSLS 10 News team in January 2023.