Student-designed robots from across the region will do battle as the VEX Robotics Competition expands to Huntington Saturday, Jan. 21, in a tournament sponsored by the Robert C. Byrd Institute (RCBI).

Everyone is invited to join in the excitement as teams demonstrate their robotics skills from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. in the Don Morris Room of the Marshall University Memorial Student Center. The event is free to spectators.

Teams from Berkeley, Cabell, Kanawha, Lincoln and Wayne counties in West Virginia and Lawrence County in Ohio will vie for a chance to advance to the West Virginia VEX State Championship March 11 in Fairmont.

This year’s VEX Challenge “Starstruck” involves teams competing against each other and the clock as they manually control their robots and program them to use sensors to perform autonomous maneuvers. Teams score points on the 12’ x 12’ competition field by placing star- and cube-shaped objects in their respective zones and by dangling their robots from a hanging bar.

VEX is the world’s largest robotics competition for middle and high school students. More than 10,000 teams from 32 counties compete in VEX tournaments.

The Huntington event marks an expansion of RCBI’s STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) focus in West Virginia. RCBI also sponsors FIRST Lego League (FLL) Robotics events in Huntington and Bridgeport with the support of the NASA West Virginia Space Grant Consortium and the West Virginia Robotics Alliance.