Virginia State University is the first HBCU to host the 2024 FIRST Chesapeake District FIRST Robotics Competition Championship. The prestigious event expects an attendance of 4,000 people, who will celebrate teams competing over three days from April 4-6. This year marks the championship’s 35th edition.

“These opportunities create excitement and energy for young people to pursue STEM careers and are especially important for students from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds,” Lorin Sodell, the Director of External and Industry Engagement at VSU’s College of Engineering and Technology, said in a news release. “At VSU, our commitment to providing access and opportunity to students from ALL backgrounds makes us an excellent choice to host this tournament. Over the three-day event, team members and their families will have a front-row seat to see why Greater Happens Here at VSU.”

FIRST stands for “Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology.” It is a nonprofit organization that aims to inspire young people to become leaders in STEM — science, technology, engineering and math. 

The championship will feature the top 54 teams from the FIRST Robotics Competition program, encompassing students in grades 9-12 from the Chesapeake District. They will compete for a spot at the World Championship later this month.

“FIRS” Chesapeake and Virginia State University is hosting the 2024 FIRST Chesapeake District FIRST Robotics Competition Championship fills us with immense pride and excitement,” Ale” Bryant, the Executive Director for FIRST Chesapeake, said. “As we prepare to welcome high school teams from across DC, Maryland, and Virginia, this milestone is not just about the competition itself; it’s a testament to the transformative power of diversity, equity, and inclusion in STEM. By partnering with one of Virginia’s HBCUs to host this prestigious event, we amplify the message that every student, regardless of background, deserves equal opportunities to excel in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.”