By Edward Cardenas

DETROIT (CBS Detroit) – High school students in southwest Detroit have a new location to build, test and perfect their entry in the upcoming First Robotics in Michigan competition.

The Robotics Engineering Center of Detroit recently opened in the Detroit Hispanic Development Corporation to give students the tools, work space and location to work with student and professional mentors to build a robot.

“What we are really trying to do is provide the students a place where they can come, where they have all the equipment and tools to be able to make a robot,” said Tom Stephens, vice chair of first robotics in Michigan and chairman of the board of the Michigan Science Center.

The southwest Detroit team joins the fast growing FIRST Robotics movement in the state. According to organizers, Michigan has one of the fastest growing FIRST Robotics programs in the country. FIRST Robotics, which stands for For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology is a competition between high school teams to build a robot out of a standard kit to accomplish a game-like task.

The competitions begin with district competitions Feb. 26, and run through the state championships in Grand Rapids April 8-11.

Gianni Carazo, from Western International High School, is a team youth leader the center and is excited for the opportunity the engineering center will provide for the team and their future career opportunities.

“This engineering center is an amazing opportunity for youth , as myself, who live in southwest Detroit. In our community, there are not opportunities like this,” said Carazo, who added the DHDC also offers programs including  music and video production, graphic design instrument classes. “It’s one of most amazing opportunities that youth can have in Detroit.”

A mix of 16 businesses, existing FIRST teams and volunteers came together to make the engineering center a reality.

This includes AGI Construction – which is co-owned by DHDC graduate Tanya Ali –  which donated the electric labor for the robot program.

“It’s where we are from. It’s part of us,” said Ali. “It’s about education and creating employment for at-risk youth and people in the community.”

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