2014-03-06 / Community

FIRST Robotics comes to Esky

ESCANABA – The inaugural Upper Peninsula FIRST Robotics competition will be held at the Escanaba High School March 14 -15. The acronym FIRST is For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology.

FIRST Robotics inspires young people to be science and technology leaders, by engaging them in exciting mentor-based programs that build science, engineering and technology skills, that inspire innovation, and that foster wellrounded life capabilities including self-confidence, communication, and leadership.

Dubbed a varsity sport for the mind, FRC combines the excitement of sport with the rigors of science and technology. Under strict rules, limited resources, and time limits, teams of 25 students or more are challenged to raise funds, design a team “brand,” hone teamwork skills, and build and program a robot to perform prescribed tasks against a field of competitors. It’s as close to “real world” engineering as a student can get. Professional mentors volunteer their time and talents to guide each team.

Students have the opportunity to:

• Work alongside professional engineers.

• Build and compete with a robot of their own design.

• Learn and use sophisticated hardware and software.

• Develop design, project management, programming, teamwork, and strategic thinking skills.

• Earn a place in the Championship.

• Qualify for over $16 million in college scholarships.

The FIRST Competition season kicked off in January when all U.P. teams headed to Northern Michigan University’s Seaborg Center to pick up their kit. The teams were given a task that their robot must perform, but no specifications as to how to design and program the robot to complete the task. After six weeks, each team has to box up and seal up their robot and make no new adjustments until the first competition.

Many regional companies are supporting the event by sending volunteer judges. Some of those companies include GS Engineering, L’Anse Manufacturing, Engineered Machined Products, Stewart Manufacturing, Northern Star Industries, Garceau Insurance, the Marketing Department and Michigan Small Business Development Center.

In Gov. Snyder’s State of the State Address this year, he advocated for making Michigan a leader in promoting STEM and career tech programs. He mentioned FIRST Robotics as a specific example of efforts happening around the state.

With 35 teams already registered for the event in Escanaba, the Upper Peninsula is a leader in promoting STEM and career tech programs. A sampling of areas that teams are traveling from include Ypsilanti (The Flyers), Holland (Team R.O.B.O.T.I.C.S), Houghton (Superior Roboworks), Charlevoix (Raydernators), Ishpeming (Westend Gearbusters), Cooks (Big Bay Black Bears) and Harris (I.C.E. Cubed).

“It is critical that we expose young people as early as possible to concepts such as those learned in participating with FIRST Robotics, it’s not just the robotics concepts but the focus on building self-esteem and good sportsmanship,” said Mark Massicotte, president of L’anse Manufacturing. “I am looking forward to the event and would love this to be growing event for the U.P.”

Return to top