Playing with LEGO® building blocks and creating robots are activities that have delighted kids for decades, but underneath the fun, there are important practical skills to be learned. The aptitudes developed are in the coveted STEM (science, technology, engineering, and match) realm, and can provide a foundation for careers of the future. That’s what makes it so exciting to see the growth of robotics competitions in Michigan, and to be welcoming the world robotics championship to Detroit later this month.

FIRST, which means “For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology,” is the nonprofit brain behind the fames. It was founded in 1989 by Dean Kamen, who’s credits include inventing the Segway scooter, the insulin pump, and portable dialysis machines. His plan was to inspire the next generation’s interest and participation in science and technology.

The nonprofit uses LEGO and robotics competitions to achieve its mission. Young people are developed into science and technology leaders and innovators, by engaging them with exciting mentor-based programs that enhance their skills in those areas, while also building self-confidence and improving their communication and leadership skills.

Later this month, thousands of students from around the world will travel to Detroit to put their innovation skills to the test at the annual championships, which will be held at Cobo Center and Ford Field.

There seems no place more fitting to host such an event than the Motor City. The future of our primary industry, and particularly advanced manufacturing, driverless vehicles, and the role of wireless mobility in the automotive industry is dependent upon cultivating a next generation of engineers.

With solid jobs on the line, robotics teams are popping up all over the state. Michigan is expected to have more teams, 508 to be exact, in the competition than any other state. In fact, the number of teams within the Detroit Public Schools alone has grown from 17 to 53 in just one year.

If you want to see these kids in action for yourself, there is no fee to attend the championship, which takes place Wednesday April 25 – Saturday, April 28. The event and Pits, where you can see students working on their creations, are open to the public. The event locations are as follows:

  • The FIRST® Robotics Competition Championship is located at the Cobo Center on Level 2, Halls B -D.
  • The FIRST® Tech Challenge World Championship is located at the Cobo Center on Level 2, Hall A.
  • FIRST® LEGO® League World Festival and FIRST® LEGO®League Jr. World Festival Expo are at Cobo Center Level 1.
  • FIRSTChampionship Welcome Party and FIRST Championship Closing Celebration can be found at Ford Field.

For the most up-to-date information download the event app.

Author: Lisa Diggs

Lisa Diggs is a writer, speaker, entrepreneur, business consultant, avid traveler, and founder of The Catalyst Company, LLC, Michigan Positivity Project, and Buy Michigan Now.