International FIRST Robotics Competition Coming to Detroit’s Cobo Center and Ford Field in April 2018


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FIRST is a non-profit organization that hosts robotics competitions for students of all ages worldwide.

Photo Courtesy: FirstInspires.org

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder and Inventor Dean Kamen will announce Thursday at the North American International Auto Show that the global FIRST Championship student robotics competition will take place at Detroit’s Cobo Center and Ford Field from April 25-28, 2018.

The FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) championship is expected to draw 30,000 attendees to Detroit, including students aged 6-18, parents, friends, mentors, coaches, volunteers, and over 200 Fortune 500 sponsors. The organization was founded by Kamen in 1989, and has a global reach of more than 460,000 students.

Twenty-five states and 35 countries are expected to be represented during three simultaneous robotics competitions, where student teams are required to build a robot capable of completing a challenge. The challenge, such as picking up a basketball and throwing it into a basket, changes annually.

The FIRST championship has a significant economic impact on the host city. For example, the FIRST competition held in St. Louis last year created an overall economic impact of $30 million, and drew 43,000 attendees who booked 25,000 hotel rooms.

So far, FIRST has provided more than $30 million in college scholarships. Detroit alone boasts 60 FIRST teams, including Holy Redeemer Grade School in southwest Detroit. Last week, the school completed work on three STEM classrooms which will be used, in part, to support the Holy Redeemer FIRST Lego League team, Redeemer Bots.

“We are proud of the Holy Redeemer students and their teachers,” says Frank Venegas, chairman and CEO of Ideal Group, a multi-faceted steel, contracting, engineering, and products company in southwest Detroit that contributed to the renovation. “The STEM Center and the (neighboring) Robotics Lab will provide these southwest Detroit youth with great learning opportunities. We thank our collaborative partners for transforming three classrooms into bright inspirational learning spaces that will change lives.”  

Other companies that contributed to the renovation included The Suburban Collection, Superior Electric, and Efficient Office Solutions.

The FIRST Robotics Competition is for students in Grades 9-12; FIRST Tech Challenge is for Grades 7-12; FIRST Lego League is for Grades 4-8; and FIRST Lego League Jr. is for Grades K-4.

More information regarding FIRST can be found here.

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