Windsor can benefit from world robotics championships landing in Detroit

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The robotics world is coming to Windsor’s doorstep, bringing new opportunities for both students and industry with Detroit’s selection this week as host of the First Robotics World Championships.

The Motor City will host the event for three consecutive years beginning in 2018.

“It’s as if Detroit won the bid for the Super Bowl for three straight years because of the economic impact,” said city Coun. Irek Kusmierczyk, the director of Robotics and Youth Programs at WEtech Alliance.

“This is going to have a big spill over effect.

“People are going to book rooms and go to Windsor restaurants. Maybe we can host some events in Windsor.”

The world championships in St. Louis later this month are expected to draw over 30,000 participants and spectators from over 40 countries. It’s estimated the four-day event will inject over $30-million into that city’s economy.

But, Kusmierczyk said, the potential benefits of robotics to the area go beyond just tourism and short-term dollars. Students who compete in robotics are twice as likely to attend university to study science, technology, engineering and math programs.

“The more teams we get, the better our region will be in attracting high-skill industry investment because we’ll have developed the workforce we need do that.”

Having the world championships next door will also save local First Robotics teams nearly $10,000 in travel expenses apiece.

There are two local schools, Belle River and Massey, which are going to St. Louis.

Kusmierczyk said the region is already one of the fastest growing areas for First Robotics teams in Canada and now hosts the nation’s largest regional competition (Windsor-Essex Great Lakes Regional).

In three years, the area has grown from one high-school robotics team to an expected 18 teams next year. At the elementary level, the growth has seen two Lego teams become 24 in two years.

“This fits the character of our city,” said Kusmierczyk, who also serves as a Windsor city councillor.

“We’re a robotics, automation, industrial town. We know how to build things.”

Kusmierczyk said Windsor is already on the map with First Robotics as a result of the regional tournament and he expects local organizers can leverage that to host some events on this side of the border in support of the four-day event.

He suggests a competition for teams that didn’t qualify for the world championships is worth exploring. A robotics trade show featuring innovative companies in everything from the automotive to agriculture to logistics sectors is another potential pitch.

“I think there’s all kinds of opportunities in this for our region and not just for robotics,” said Larry Koscielski, who chaired the Great Lakes Regional tournament and works as the senior technical and strategic advisor for CentreLine (Windsor) Ltd.

“It’s a great opportunity for us to showcase Windsor and Detroit and to re-invent ourselves.”

Kusmierczyk said the CEOs and senior executives of more than half of the world’s Fortune 500 companies attend the world championships.

“The senior executives mingle with the kids making it a great opportunity for networking for both students and industry,” Kusmierczyk said.

“You’re going to have Boeing, Microsoft, Google, Bombardier, some of the most innovative companies in the world here.”


Click here to see the original article in the Windsor Star.