FIRST Pilots Restructured Student Robotics Competition in Michigan


FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) is piloting a new structure for its student robotics competition in Michigan. For the 2009 FIRST Robotics Competition, local competitions will be held in 16 districts leading up to the finals. FIRST said the new structure is designed to provide additional opportunities for students by creating additional competitions and making the competitions more accessible to a wider range of students.

In order to handling the restructuring of the competition, FIRS has established a new non-profit in Michigan called FIRST in Michigan.

"Michigan's youth needs innovative skills and creative thinking to be able to navigate in a 21st century workplace increasingly characterized by global competition," said Francois Castaing, director of FIRST in Michigan and a member of the FIRST board of directors, in a statement released Wednesday. "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 careers in science, technology, engineering and math. The FIRST volunteers in Michigan have been diligently working towards this transition since early in 2008 and are committed to a smooth and seamless process for the teams."

"The stakes are high for U.S. competitiveness," said FIRST President Paul R. Gudonis. "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. This new competitive model will provide a scalable infrastructure for expansion with local Michigan mentors, volunteers and sponsorship opportunities to continue to strengthen science and technology education. We are pleased to work with Michigan on this pilot because of the committed volunteers and sponsors and also because state has one of the leading number of high schools in FIRST in the country."

The 2009 FIRST season begins in January and runs through March, leading up to the April final. The new Michigan competition districts include Western Upper Peninsula, Eastern Upper Peninsula, Lake Huron North, Lake Huron Central, Grand Traverse, West Michigan, Saginaw Bay, Greater Genesee, Macomb County, Oakland County, Detroit, Western Wayne, Washtenaw County, Greater Lansing, Greater Monroe, and Southwest Michigan.

FIRST is a non-profit public charity founded in 1989 to promote student interest in science, technology, engineering, and math.

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About the author:David Nagel is the executive editor for 1105 Media's online education technology publications, including THE Journal and Campus Technology. He can be reached at [email protected].

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David Nagel is the former editorial director of 1105 Media's Education Group and editor-in-chief of THE Journal, STEAM Universe, and Spaces4Learning. A 30-year publishing veteran, Nagel has led or contributed to dozens of technology, art, marketing, media, and business publications.

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