Students participate in a VEX Robotics competition at Kettering University.

We know that we have a stable partner in a high-growth area and that Kettering is going to be able to support the growing demand for the REC Foundation programs.”

Dan Mantz ’91, CEO of the REC Foundation

Kettering University and the charitable organization, Robotics Education and Competition Foundation (RECF), have formalized a partnership that has existed for years to promote science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) through robotics competitions, workshops, summer camps and more.

Under the recently signed agreement, Kettering receives financial support from RECF to establish the RECF Programs Fund. The fund will support the Robotics Community Center and its work promoting and growing VEX Robotics and Aerial Drone Competitions. Students from middle school through college participate in the programs.

“With this generous donation, we will be able to elevate our robotics and drone programs, reaching more students who have an interest in these fields of the future,” said Kim Shumaker, Robotics Community Center and Robotics Outreach Director at Kettering University. “Our work with the Robotics Education and Competition Foundation has helped us become a destination for robotics and drone competitions in Michigan and the country. We are excited to continue this partnership and to see what more we can accomplish together.”

Dan Mantz ’91 joined the REC Foundation in 2016 as a board member and became its chief executive officer in 2017. He said this new partnership was the logical evolution of the collaboration between Kettering and the REC Foundation. 

“It made sense with all the activities that Kettering University is doing for the REC Foundation and Kettering's long-standing support of robotics,” Mantz said. “This is the right move, not just because Kettering hosts VEX Robotics competitions or Aerial Drone Competitions. It’s providing space for teams to practice. It's the summer camps. It's developing a whole ecosystem.”

“It just made sense to do a financial partnership where we're also supporting Kettering University in these initiatives.”

The gift from RECF will go toward a range of activities, including:

  • Promoting, supporting, and growing VEX Robotics and Aerial Drone Competition teams and tournaments in Michigan
  • Assisting with the monitoring and sustaining the growth of VEX Robotics and Aerial Drone Competition teams in Michigan
  • Assisting with planning and implementing the Michigan Event Partner Summit, the Michigan State Championship, and VEX Worlds
  • Partnering with the RECF to create training materials
  • Assisting with summer training programs as schedule allows

“It's a win-win situation,” Mantz said. “We know that we have a stable partner in a high-growth area and that Kettering is going to be able to support the growing demand for the REC Foundation programs.”

One of the key components of the partnership is the annual REC Foundation Partner Summit at Kettering University. The summit, which kicks off today and runs through Wednesday, brings together event partners from across the U.S. to provide the opportunity for feedback to the RECF that can support continuous improvement in the programs. It also provides a venue in which the RECF can answer questions, announce changes and demonstrate the new season game(s) and elements. 

“Kettering is honored to have been chosen to host the summit and provide an environment where event partners and the RECF representatives can collaborate and improve upon our collective efforts to inspire students to pursue STEM degrees and careers,” Shumaker said.

Since 2015, Kettering has hosted VEX camps and workshops. Students who are active competitors or mentors in VEX or other competitive robotics organizations can receive renewable scholarships for up to $5,000 yearly (up to $25,000 over five years).

This year, Kettering University was a Mission Sponsor at the VEX World Championships in April in Texas. 

On the drone front, the University began hosting summer camps in 2020 with a virtual Drone Pilot Certification Camp. The first in-person camp was in 2021. Kettering began hosting drone competitions in 2022 with two regular-season events. The University also sponsored the Aerial Drone World Championship in Dallas in 2022. This year, the University hosted two regular-season drone events as well as the regional championship which hosted drone teams from ten states.

This year’s drone camps, which began Sunday and continue through Thursday, are for students in grades 9-12. For more information about camps, click here.

“We need to reach as many students as possible,” Mantz said. “With Kettering supporting all these different programs, we're able to accomplish that.”

For more information about robotics at Kettering University, click here.