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Blugold Beginnings, Eau Claire schools to host robotics competition April 29

| Kristin McLeod

The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire Blugold Beginnings program and the Eau Claire Area School District will co-host their first robotics competition at DeLong Middle School in Eau Claire beginning at 9 a.m. April 29.

Fifteen teams of students from South, Northstar and DeLong middle schools, along with their college mentors, will design and program robots to compete. Students will be judged based on robot design, the robot’s ability to navigate a challenge course, and teamwork.

The Blugold Beginnings program has been building participant support for the robotics competition through pilot after-school programming for the last three years — first with one school, then with five and this year with more than 10 area schools. Additionally, Blugold Beginnings has been fundraising and grant writing for support to launch a full-scale robotics program in the Eau Claire Area School District.

“I’m excited to help host the first Blugold Beginnings Robotics competition,” said UW-Eau Claire junior Abe Mamou, and intern and mentor with Blugold Beginnings Robotics who is coordinating the event. “It has been amazing working with Blugold Beginnings Robotics and watching the students learn how to design, program and problem solve their robots.”

The Blugold Robotics initiative is a part of UW-Eau Claire’s diligent work to decrease the opportunity gap in STEM fields for underrepresented students, said Jodi Thesing-Ritter, UW-Eau Claire executive director for diversity and inclusion.

“We’re proud of the work of our UW-Eau Claire student mentors, our ECASD partners, and area businesses and foundations that has prepared us to host our first competition,” Thesing-Ritter said. “The future of STEM programming is bright in the Chippewa Valley, thanks to this collective leadership and support.”

Area businesses have donated to Blugold Beginnings Robotics to make events like the robotics competition possible for local, including Northwestern Bank, 3MGives, the Otto Bremer Trust, Lasker Jewelers, Jamf, TTM Technologies, Charter Bank and Eau Claire County Extension 4-H Youth Development.

For more information about Blugold Beginnings Robotics and the April 29 robotics competition, contact Jodi Thesing-Ritter at or 715-828-7221.

Photo cutline: Local middle-school students participate in after-school programming that is part of the UW-Eau Claire Blugold Beginnings Robotics initiative.