MI Pilot Competition Structure
FIRST Pilots New Event Competition Structure in Michigan
This past July, FIRST announced the launch of a new pilot district event model in Michigan that will provide increased robotics competitions statewide. The new model will subdivide the state into 16 districts to leverage local action plans for growth, while, at the same time, making robotics events accessible and closer to home.
The Michigan model was established as a result of a state study conducted by FIRST volunteer leadership to determine the benefits of a local/regional team. A pilot district event held at Kettering University successfully demonstrated that events closer to home reaped many benefits, including a reduction in travel costs, establishment of new relationships with local schools, a fostering of local mentors and volunteers, and an increase in local sponsorships for events.
Currently, there are 118 teams from 150 high schools participating in the Michigan-area FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC). In addition, 310 FIRST LEGO League (FLL) teams with more than 3,000 students are also competing.
"The stakes are high for U.S. competitiveness," noted FIRST president Paul R. Gudonis, adding, "A recent report by a coalition of 16 of the nation's leading business organizations showed little progress in the country’s goal of doubling the number of students earning bachelor's degrees in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) by 2015. Here at FIRST, we are determined to assist the national goal by establishing FIRST high-school robotics programs in 15 percent of the public schools in the U.S. by 2012. Michigan has one of the leading numbers of high schools in FIRST." In addition, FRC alumni are expected to make up twenty percent of the student body this fall at Kettering University’s School of Engineering in Flint.
Francois Castaing, Director, FIRST in Michigan and a member of the FIRST board of directors, added, "Michigan’s youth needs innovative skills and creative thinking to be able to navigate in a 21st century workplace increasingly characterized by global competition. As one of the early proponents for FIRST initiatives in Michigan, I am thrilled to have the opportunity to lead during this time of transition and create a new structure for the young men and women in this state which will assist the region’s workforce development by exposing students at a very young age to STEM careers."
The district event model, piloted in the FIRST Robotics Competition 2009 playing season from January to April, will include seven district events and one state championship event. During the pilot year, only Michigan teams can compete within the state. Those same teams can register to compete at other traditional FIRST regional robotics events outside of the state and also qualify for the FIRST Championship to be held in Atlanta, Georgia, April 16-18, 2009.
Learn more about the Michigan pilot district event model.