By Edward Cardenas
SOUTHFIELD (CBS Detroit) – The floor of the Southfield High School Field House was filled Friday with remote control student-built robots competing in a series of tasks in the first round competition for First Robotics in Michigan.
As the robots stacked bins and containers in the competition, the students who filled the stands cheered on their teammates in a pep-rally type environment.
The district competition at Southfield High School is one of 18 FIRST Robotics district events being held across the state.
“FIRST encourages science, technology and mathematics in students and encourages them to explore, be creative, discover and solve problems,” said Derelle Redmond, event coordinator and FIRST alumnus who now works as a software engineer.
FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Competition started in 1992 with 28 teams. The event has grown to include more than 2,700 teams in 92 cities around the globe, with one of the largest concentration of teams in Michigan.
The Southfield competition runs until 7 p.m. Friday, and form 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. Saturday in the high school field house at Southfield High School. More than 40 high school teams from around the state are competing at the event.
The teams are competing in Recycle Rush, a sport-like game where robots compete three on three in randomly paired matches for two days in the simulated recycling challenge. Each year, a new game is unveiled in January and teams have only six weeks to build their robot for competition.
In addition to the building the robots, members of the team also are involved in marketing, website building and fundraising.
“It’s a chance for them to learn where there are not led by guidelines driven by state and government,” said Joseph Minnick, Southfield coach, about the event. “It’s a family environment.”
The winning team will compete on a state level, with the possibility of making it to nationals.
Southfield High School’s team, the Technojays, have been competing in the event since 1999. In 2014, the Technojays competed in the semifinals in Traverse City and won the Chrysler Team Spirit awards.
Daniel Goodman, a senior at Southfield High School, is competing in his inaugural FIRST Robotics competition. He enjoyed the “hands-on” opportunity to build the robots and its electrical wiring.
In addition to the excitement of competition, FIRST has helped him plan for his future. He has applied to, and has been accepted, to Lawrence Technological University.