YPSILANTI — Eastern Michigan University’s Convocation Center is hosting the state championships of the FIRST Michigan Robotics competition this weekend. Gov. Rick Snyder is scheduled to attend, and Detroit Public Television will live stream the event.
Roughly 5,000 high school students across the state are members of 206 FIRST teams that design and build robots to accomplish a specific task during a six-week “build season” in January and February.
Then, on Fridays and Saturdays throughout March, the students compete in 11 district events held around the state.
The top 64 teams from these competitions qualify for the state championships.
Teams raise money to pay for their expenses in building the robot and create Web sites to build publicity and awareness — meaning there’s room in FIRST for learning about media, public relations, nonprofit management, and much more than robotics engineering and construction.
Thanks to FIRST sponsors, the atmosphere at FIRST competitions rivals the best of high school athletics — complete with cheering crowds, pounding music, sophisticated lighting and video systems, and team mascots. The difference from athletics, though, is that at a FIRST competition, virtually every competitor in the room has a realistic chance of “going pro” — in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
Opening ceremonies are scheduled for 3 p.m. Thursday, April 11, followed by first round matches running until 7:30 p.m. Preliminary rounds continue all day Friday and begin again at 9:30 a.m. Saturday.
This year’s game has students building robots capable of shooting Frisbees into goals. Teams earn extra points if their robots can climb a ladder-like tower and score the Frisbee into the goal at the top.
During the round-robin preliminary portion of the competition, teams are assigned to three-team “alliances” at random. Based on their records earned during this phase of the competition, teams are seeded from 1 to 64. After two days of seeding matches, the top eight seeded teams choose two alliance partners with whom they will stay for the elimination phase of the contest — quarterfinals, and, if they win, the semifinals and finals of the event.
To listen to a podcast interview with Gail Alpert, president of FIRST in Michigan, visit this link.
Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder is scheduled to attend the up competition Saturday, having accepted an invitation of event sponsor Robert Bosch LLC.
“Governor Snyder will share his perspective on the 3Cs: creation, collaboration and connectivity,” said Charlie Ackerman, senior vice president of human resources at Bosch. “At Bosch, we believe that for many students, the spark of learning is ignited in adult- mentored activities like FIRST. As adults — that’s parents, teachers, industry, government and academic leaders — support students throughout their academic careers, we help create a passion for lifelong learning in STEM-related areas that not only enrich the individual, but also create meaningful careers that afford a good quality of life for those who pursue them.”
More than $16 million in college scholarships are available exclusively for FIRST students in 2013.
“The growth of FIRST Robotics teams at all levels is very encouraging for our state, and to surpass the team participation levels of some traditional, established high school sports teams is a great indicator of schools recognizing the needs of pursuing STEM-related programs,” said Francois Castaing, chairman of the FIRST in Michigan Board. “Programs like FIRST Robotics are the starting point for rebuilding the skilled workforce and economic engine drivers we need as these students will be filling the jobs pipeline soon.”
The DPTV live stream will begin Saturday, April 13 at 9:30 a.m. and continue until the conclusion of the formation of the eight quarterfinal alliances at 12:30 p.m. The quarterfinals, semifinals and finals will also be streamed from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m.
DPTV will also produce a one-hour program on the competition, to air on WTVS Channel 56 in May. A time has not yet been determined.
More about the championships at www.firstinmichigan.org/FRC_2013/State_Championship/state_championship.html.
FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) is a national program that begins in first grade and continues through high school, using robotics construction and competition to build excitement about careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. More at www.usfirst.org or www.firstinmichigan.org.
Accomplished inventor Dean Kamen founded FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) in 1989 to inspire an appreciation of science and technology in young people. Based in Manchester, N.H., FIRST designs accessible, innovative programs to build self-confidence, knowledge, and life skills while motivating young people to pursue opportunities in science, technology and engineering.
The 2013 district events and the winning alliances at each site were as follows: Kettering University District (Flint), Goodrich, Plymouth-Canton, Bishop Foley; Traverse City Central High School District, Newaygo County, Southwest Michigan College, Manistique; Gull Lake High School District, Hopkins, Dexter, Monroe County; Waterford Mott High School District, Macomb Academy A&S, Notre Dame Prep, Cardinal Mooney; Detroit District, Centerline High School, Bloomfield International Academy, Utica Community, Ecorse; St. Joseph High School District, Coloma, Southwest Michigan College, Calumet; West Michigan District at Grand Valley State University, Plymouth-Canton, Hopkins, Grand Rapids Creston; Grand Blanc High School District, Notre Dame Prep, Macomb Academy A&S, Berkley; Livonia Churchill High School District, South Lyon, Farmington, Monroe Jefferson; Troy Athens High School District, Bloomfield International Academy, Rochester Adams, Boyne City; Temperance Bedford High School District, Notre Dame Prep, Bloomfield International Academy, Grand Rapids Creston.