It’s something we 20th century children of Detroit only thought would exist in our wildest fantasies of the future. A FIRST Robotics World Championship held in our city.
It is happening. Detroit will host the championship for three years beginning in April 2018.
During the event Cobo Center and Ford Field will be overrun with more than 60,000 students, all learning about our city as well as competing.
The championship is expected to pump $90 million into the local economy and have longer-lasting effects as tens of thousands of kids get a chance to find out there are good jobs available here in Michigan in robotics and so many others.
Detroit will be ready.
Consumers Energy CEO Patti Poppe, Gail Alpert, president of FIRST Robotics in Michigan and Roger Curtis, director of the Michigan Department of Talent and Economic Development, are leading the 74-member steering committee for the FIRST Robotics World Championship here.
“We’re excited to welcome the next generation of talent to Michigan knowing their experience here will provide them with a lifetime of in-demand skills that will set them up for success in STEM fields after graduation,” says Poppe. “Much like our state’s economy, Consumers Energy depends on STEM talent to innovate, engineer, anticipate and respond to opportunities now and in the future.”
Ford Field is no stranger to hosting championship. The Super Bowl was here in 2006, but that involved only two teams. The FIRST Robotics Championship will bring nearly 700 teams to that field and Cobo with four levels of competition. Michigan has the largest turnout for the championship with more than 500 teams.
The championship will attract teams from around the world with students from elementary school to high school participating.
Last year Lightning Robotics from Plymouth-Canton Schools was part of the three-team winning alliance at the World Championships in St. Louis. The other Michigan team was Stryke Force from the Kalamazoo area.
The event’s steering committee has three main goals. It will promote FIRST and the Detroit experience, showcase Michigan talent and universities, and grow more FIRST teams.
Consumer’s Power CEO Poppe is no stranger to FIRST robotics.
“My own kids participated in it and my husband is a mentor – so it runs in my family,” she says. “I’m excited to bring that love and excitement for the program to the many students and parents we welcome to Detroit early next year.”
The kids are guided by local employers, who act as mentors and lend their expertise in designing and building the robots.
“FIRST Robotics brings business and education together,” says Alpert. “And at a time when it is critical for us to provide students with lifelong skills and the ability to adapt to changing industry, FIRST is paving the way for our state’s next generation of 21st-century talent through the support of mentor companies like General Motors, Dow Chemical, Ford Motor company and many others who are joining us on our steering committee.”
The competition is not just about building a robot. The students also learn how to raise funds, work as team and develop a brand. The combination of these skills may be why FIRST says the program is “as close to real world engineering as a student can get.”
All of that is before they even get to the championship.
Detroit and has always been known as a beacon for engineering prowess, most notably in the auto industry, but nothing better than a robot competition says the city will have that same honor long into the future.
The steering committee includes top leaders from across Michigan, including representatives from:
- Alro Steel
- Detroit Public Schools Community District
- Dow Chemical
- DTE Energy
- Ford Motor Company
- Ideal Group
- General Motors
- Kettering University
- Lawrence Technological University
- Mason Public Schools
- Michigan Technological University
- Traverse City Central High School
- University of Michigan
- University of Detroit Mercy
- other Michigan employers and schools