Three Detroit-area FIRST Robotics teams came as close to living in a sci-fi world as teenagers can when they competed in this year’s FIRST® Robotics World Championship.
The robotic and technical talents of the University of Detroit Jesuit, Mercy Education Project and Novi Middle School, all supported by DTE Energy, were put to the test on April 27-30 at the competition in St. Louis. They joined more than 20,000 young people from around world to test their robot-building skills.
FIRST Robotics is an international robotics competition. The teams have six weeks to build game-playing robots that weigh up to 120 pounds. The robots are required to accomplish certain tasks such as scoring balls into goals, flying discs into goals, hanging on bars, and balancing on a beam. The goal is to build science, engineering, and technology skills, inspire innovation and give young people self-confidence as well as communication and leadership skills.
You can check out this video of the 2016 competition to get an idea of the enthusiasm this year’s competition generated from teams worldwide.
The three Detroit-area teams had a good year.
Two teams competed in the FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) and one in the FIRST Tech Challenge. The FTC teams are for kids in 7- 12 grade. The FRC teams are for those in 9-12 grades.
The University of Detroit Jesuit ranked 60/411 in Michigan going into Nationals. While they didn’t advance after Qualification matches, it was one of the school’s strongest teams and robots in 12 years.
The Mercy Education Project, ranked 144/411 in Michigan going into Nationals. The team is one of only two all-girls FIRST Robotics teams in Michigan. They advanced to the Nationals because they received the Rookie All-Star Award at the State competition. That award is presented to the rookie team that exemplifies a young but strong partnership effort and advances FIRST’s mission to inspire students to learn more about science and technology.
While they did not advance after Qualification matches, they had a great first year.
The Novi Black Frogs, the FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) team, did not make it to the finals, but ended their season nationally ranked 36 out of 64 in their division.
“These programs engage students with learning opportunities in science, technology, engineering and math, and they build strong leadership skills and a commitment to communities,” said Shawn Patterson, vice president of organizational effectiveness and chief learning officer for DTE Energy. “Those qualities are vitally important to DTE Energy as we focus our efforts on developing a well-skilled and diverse work force and the leaders of tomorrow. These students represent the best and brightest, and we are proud to support them.”
There were 88 elite teams from Michigan in St. Louis in the competition. They were judged on effectiveness of each robot, the power of team strategy and collaboration and their determination. Judges’ award decisions were based criteria including engineering, design excellence, competitive play, sportsmanship and high-impact partnerships between schools, businesses, and communities.
DTE Energy sponsored other teams from Michigan that competed in the 2016 FIRST Championship. They were:
- Charyl Stockwell Preparatory Academy
- Brighton Bedford Senior High School, Temperance
- Petoskey High School, Petoskey
- West Catholic High School, Grand Rapids
This year, DTE Energy Foundation, the philanthropic arm of DTE, donated $95,000 to FIRST in Michigan to support statewide robotics competitions. DTE Energy also has provided additional financial support to individual teams.
Money is great, but the best support comes from DTE employees who give of their time and talent to mentor teams from across the state. They spend nights and weekends teaching students about technology and engineering as they worked to build robots.
No matter where they ranked, the students who participated in FIRST gained a working knowledge of the ever-present and necessary world of technology, and better yet, how to work as a team.
– Top picture: University of Detroit Jesuit High School and Academy Robocubs prepare to take the field