Robotic Football Tournament at Valparaiso University

Football Robot

Valparaiso University invites the Valpo community to watch a football game like no other as it hosts the 11th annual Collegiate Robotic Football Conference (CRFC) National Championship Tournament at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, April 13, 2024 at the Athletics-Recreation Center (ARC). This event is free and open to the public. 

Valpo’s Robotics team will defend their title as 2022 and 2023 champions against the U.S. Naval Academy, Calvin University, Penn State York, Ohio Northern University and more. Should they be victorious, they will be the first team in CRFC history to win three consecutive tournaments. 

While taking home championship is great, the real prizes for these students are the skills they hone along the way. Knowledge of programming, mechanical, electrical, and computer engineering, and infrared sensor technology are all paramount to the success of their mechanized athletes, but just as important is the communication, teamwork, and project management skills necessary to take a football-playing robot from the drawing board to game day. 

“Robotic football has taught me how to work together on a team,” says Lauren Kadlec ’24. “To build a robot, so many people with unique talents have to come together. We learn from each other and develop new skills together as challenges present themselves.”

Not content with simply excelling in their field, the Valpo Robotic Football team is also giving back to the community. In 2023, they were recognized by the Valparaiso City Council, both for their championship victory and their work with numerous local K-12 schools. Team members help the next generation of engineering experts, sharing their love of robotics and embodying Valpo’s value of service — a key part of the University’s five-year strategic plan Uplift Valpo: Our Beacon for the Journey Forward. 

“Valparaiso University is a community of learning,” says Sami Khorbotly, Ph.D., chair and professor of electrical and computer engineering and faculty advisor for the Robotic Football team. “There are things you can learn in the classroom and other things that you can only learn by practice. Valpo Robotics creates opportunities for our students to practice creativity, teamwork, communication, mentorship, and sportsmanship. Valpo Robotics is an incubator for servant leaders.”

Robotic football is largely similar to the sport played by humans, with a few variations. While touchdowns, kicks, two-point conversions and field goals score the same number of points, additional points are awarded for successfully thrown and caught passes. The game also consists of eight machines on each side attempting to push down a 30-yard field. A full list of the rules for robotic football can be found on the CRFC website

Robotic Football Scrimmage

In addition to robotic football, Valpo robotics enthusiasts can choose to join the Vex U team, which competes in its own national event comprising over 300 teams. Each year Vex U participants are given a new game around which to design and build a robot. The Valpo team won five of their nine games in 2023’s event, ranking 23 out of 48 in their division.

Anyone interested in robots, engineering, technology, or looking to support their Valpo team is encouraged to come to the ARC on Saturday, April 13 to cheer on your Valpo Robotic Football team at this unique sporting event. For more information on Valpo Robotic Football and their previous success in the CRFC, click here