AURORA – The 2020 Aurora Open and Innovation Showcase is set to be the biggest in the event’s history and will be the first ever CREATE Open robotics competition in Nebraska televised statewide.

Outside of the US Open Championship for robotics, this will be the largest and most unique CREATE Open Powered by Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD) event of the year. The robotics competition is taking place on Saturday, Feb. 1 at the Hamilton County Fairground in Aurora, beginning at 8 a.m.

The competition will be broadcast live from 1 to 5 p.m. on News Channel Nebraska (NCN) on local airwaves across the state.

“Our future as a state in the knowledge economy depends on our ability to train a tech capable workforce. NPPD understands the value in STEM education and News Channel Nebraska wants to showcase this one-of-a-kind student competition,” noted NCN founder and owner Mike Flood. “If you worry about our future, watch this programming to find out how Nebraska farm kids solve problems that middle age folks have a hard time understanding.”

The robotics teams will be randomly paired with teams from other communities, to complete tasks and earn points.

“These students build some amazing robots, and in addition to learning technical skills, the students learn about leadership, communication, and sportsmanship – all of which are demonstrated by NPPD employees on a day-to-day basis,” said NPPD Careers Outreach Specialist Kim Liebig. “And the chance for this to be aired on live TV for others to experience is really exciting.”

The Aurora Open will engage nearly 80 community volunteers and 50 robotics teams including Waverly High School.

In addition to the robotics competition, 10 innovation teams will be competing in an innovation showcase. As a part of the innovation showcase, two businesses from across Nebraska will be paired with a student team. The student team will then be tasked with building a product that can help meet the needs of both businesses. High school students, as well as students from Central Community College, the University of Nebraska Omaha and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln will be participating.

“The products made by the student teams will be judged, and the top ranked teams will present their product to a panel of Nebraska business representatives.” Students will utilize NPPD’s STEM Connections Lab and other resources to build their products,” said NPPD Senior Career Education Specialist Chad Johnson. “This event is designed to encourage community involvement, engage future employers and inspire business-to-business relationships.”

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