011 The Face of Competitive Robotics with Karthik Kanagasabapathy (Part 2)

If you have been involved with any part of competitive robotics, you have most likely seen the smiling face of this week’s STEM Rockstar, Karthik Kanagasabapathy.  When you listen to our conversation with Karthik, you will understand why he is often at the microphone at FIRST and IFI/VEX Robotics events.  He excels in communicating the fun and passion of competitive robotics, but also has the engineering background as a past competitor himself to understand the competitions.  We were so thrilled that our daughter Makenzie, who works at Innovation First International, was able to connect us with our special guest.  Our conversation with this internationally known STEM Rockstar was so engaging that listeners will get to enjoy two episodes with Karthik.

Show Notes 

Karthik spent nine years at Innovation First International where he was responsible for exciting young people about STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) education via participation in the VEX Robotics Competition in which he designed competitive robotic games that have been played by over 75,000 teams of students around the globe.  He has won numerous awards for his dedication to furthering robotics education, including the prestigious Woodie Flowers Finalist Award for exemplary mentoring and being a positive role model for high school students through the FIRST Robotics Competition.  He also hosts various international robotic events, having worked with media personalities such as Mythbusters’ Grant Imahara and Kari Byron, given an internationally recognized TEDx talk, and hosted televised robotics specials on ESPN and CBS.

Innovation First International

Dean Kamen (Co-Founder of the FIRST Robotics Competition)

There are several robotics competitions including:

BEST Robotics


RoboRAVE International

VEX Robotics

Robotics Alliance Project (list of robotic competitions)


Resources on Karthik:

The Subtle Secret of Success: Karthik Kanagasabapathy at TEDxUTSC

Competitive Robotics: Bringing Excitement Back to the Canadian Classroom, by Karthik Kanagasabapathy

Simbotics Robotics Team


Book recommendations:

Stasiland: Stories from Behind the Berlin Wall, by Anna Funder

The Art of Smart Football, by Chris B. Brown

STEM Hero:

Dr. Woodie Flowers (Co-Founder the FIRST Robotics Competition and considered the pioneer and grandfather of competitive robotics)

Dr. Woodie Flowers – STEM Hall of Fame Induction 2017

Favorite quote:

“Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm,” by Ralph Waldo Emerson

STEM Rockstar:

Paul Copioli

Paul Copioli and Karthik Kanagasabapathy, VEX Worlds 2018

(photo credit: Makenzie Gruenig, IFI)


Contact information:




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