Close to 700 high school students and parents will gather at Grand Valley State University on Saturday to participate in the “FIRST” Robotics Competition kick-off event. Experts say the lessons learned through robotics help young people get into the engineering and stem fields.
“For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology” or “FIRST Robotics”. It's a stem program set up in 1989. In operation now for more than 25 years, it currently has over 35-hundred teams worldwide. Event Coordinator and organizer, Ken Platteschorre, says Michigan has more than 500 teams, which is more than any state in the U.S. and more than any other country, worldwide.
“And it’s helping to revitalize a lot of manufacturing design, making Michigan the powerhouse it used to be, by providing talented kids to get into engineering and stem field.”
On Saturday, First Robotics teams from high schools throughout West Michigan will learn about this year’s game field and challenge. It’s different each year. Then they’ll have six weeks to build their robot.
“And the time frame is just what you’d find in a manufacturing field and even like NASA or space X, you have to deal with size, weight of robot and then they have competitions going through March and into April then it will end with a state championship in the middle of April and then those who qualify will go on to the world championships that will be held in Detroit.”
Ken says the Robotics events are fun as well as challenging. Teams work together to build, program and test robots with a little help from adults.
“It will be mentors, trying to show or teach the students how to design, why we need to design. Why certain tasks have to be completed to build a successful machine.”
The 2018 season will include more than 36-hundred teams… that’s nearly 90-thousand high school students and mentors, participating in 160 regional and district events, worldwide.
You can learn more at usfirst.org.