Spherion Mid Ohio offers interview practice at Kalahari Classic Robotics Competition - Spherion Mid Ohio

Spherion Mid Ohio offers interview practice at Kalahari Classic Robotics Competition

January 27, 2023 1 comments

The Kalahari Convention Center hosted thousands of young bright minds from across the Midwest at the Kalahari Classic VEX Robotics Competition Wednesday through Saturday.

The event hosted 328 elementary, middle school and high school robotics teams. The teams competed to qualify for the world’s largest international youth robotics event, VEX Worlds, scheduled for April in Texas.

The Kalahari Classic is a VEX Robotics signature event that takes place annually in Sandusky, Ohio. High school teams from all over the world register to compete in this event, including teams from Buckeye Central, Norwalk, Wooster and other schools from Ohio.

About 18 staff members from Spherion Mid Ohio offered an interview station for middle and high school students to practice group interviews before presenting their robots to judges.

Jessica Hiser, director of marketing and advertising for Spherion Mid Ohio, said the interviews were limited to about 15 minutes per team so staff members could offer feedback to everyone.

“The big thing that we're telling them to do is, when they start the interview, to be intentional introducing themselves and reiterating each of their roles within the process and program,” she said. “With that first impression, you want to make sure it’s clear who you are and what role you play.”

Spherion has been a sponsor of the Kalahari Classic since 2016. This year’s tournament was the first since 2020 that face masks were optional.

While Hiser said Spherion team members don’t have the expertise to ask technical questions about how the robots work, they are able to offer feedback on skills such as eye contact, confidence and communicating clearly.

“We do remind the students to listen to the question being asked and allow each team member a chance to speak,” Hiser said. “I don’t think they see yet, but all of the things they’re doing here are going to help them in immense ways throughout their life.”

Hiser said skills such as teamwork, problem-solving and adaptation can be transferable to a variety of careers.

“Some of these kids are already so impressive, you can tell they have brilliant minds,” she said.

State Senator Mark Romanchuk (R-Ontario) spoke at the Kalahari Classic on Friday, telling competitors their robotics knowledge will prepare them for a variety of job fields.

“There’s all kinds of opportunities when it comes to STEM,” he said. “It’s going to take you to places you can’t imagine.”

Romanchuk also said hosting an international tournament in Ohio is a valuable opportunity for students looking for colleges or jobs.

“STEM is part of our DNA in Ohio,” he said. “Having this event not only introduces kids in Ohio to STEM-related fields, but it also advertises our state jobs and colleges to get people to come here and maybe consider this as a place to work and live.”

Dylan Caudill, program director for the Robotics Education & Competition Foundation, said the Kalahari Classic is the second-largest youth robotics event in the United States.

Teams advance in the competition based on their robots and professionalism. Caudill said students are required to keep an engineering design notebook to explain their building process.

The notebooks are reviewed by the Spherion team in practice interviews and by the tournament judges. Kalahari judges this year were engineering students at Ohio Northern University.

“At Kalahari, when Spherion was doing these interviews, kids love it because they get to receive feedback on their professional qualities and interview skills, and what they can improve on,” Caudill said.

Tournament judges evaluate robotics teams based on how their robots are designed, how they solve assigned problems, overall usability and the team’s record of project management. 

In the interview phase, Caudill said teams are evaluated on their explanation of the design process and strategy, teamwork, respect and professionalism.

“I don’t envy the judges because it’s a very hard job, especially at Kalahari,” he said. “Our events bring in the best of the bst from around the country.”

The Kalahari Classic qualifies two teams at each level for VEX Worlds — the tournament champions and winner of the excellence award. Caudill said the tournament champions are whoever achieves the highest score, while judges determine the excellence award winners based on scores, interviews and their engineering design notebooks.

“Kalahari is one of many tournaments out there. We’re super grateful to have such a good community around us of teachers and coaches that want to push their kids to do better and provide these opportunities.”

Caudill said anyone interested in starting their own youth robotics club can visit roboticseducation.org for resources

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  • How does the Kalahari Classic VEX Robotics Competition contribute to the development and recognition of young minds in STEM fields, and what role does Spherion Mid Ohio play in supporting these students in areas beyond technical skills, such as teamwork, communication, and professionalism? Regards Telkom University
    Telkom University at

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