March 17, 2008

Utica, Detroit Cody and Bloomfield Hills International Academy Winners of FIRST Robotics Regional in Detroit

DETROIT, Mich. - March 15, 2008 - A three-team alliance of high school robotics teams won the FIRST Robotics Detroit Regional, a two-day competition held this weekend at Wayne State University. They are: Utica Schools, Detroit Cody High and Bloomfield Hills International Academy.

The nationwide FIRST Robotics (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) program provides students a unique preview into the professional world of engineering, science and math, as they work under the guidance of career professional adult mentors while competing with their peers in a high school varsity sport atmosphere.

All of the 32 teams competing were from Michigan, which has had more than its share of success in FIRST Robotics. In five of the last six years, a national champion has come from the Great Lakes State.

Three schools are named winners of the Detroit Regional because FIRST Robotics is set up where teams compete as an alliance. This promotes teamwork, conquering challenges with others and most importantly, FIRST's Motto: Gracious Professionalism.

The runners up taking second place were an alliance of three additional high schools: Pontiac Central, Clarkston and Clinton Twsp. L'Anse Creuse.

The two alliances that reached the semifinals before being eliminated by the alliances above were comprised of a total of six teams from: Detroit Country Day, Allen Park & Cabrini High, Ferndale/Royal Oak, Monroe High, Saginaw Schools Career Complex and Oakland Schools Tech Campus Northeast.

Game Description:
FIRST Overdrive
is played on a 54' x 27' track divided into a Red side and a Blue side, with an overpass that marks the red and blue finish lines while also supporting four Trackballs to start the game. Two three-team alliances race around the track in a counter clockwise direction manipulating Trackballs that they must first try knocking off the overpass. Robots start in an autonomous mode, but for the majority of the game are radio controlled by team operators standing at either end of the field. During the Teleoperated period, robots traveling in a counter clockwise direction score:
2 points whenever their robot or Trackball crosses their finish line
8 points whenever their Trackball passes over their overpass. Alliances score an additional 12 points for each of their Trackballs that are positioned anywhere on the overpass at the end of the match.

What is FIRST?:

FIRST Robotics is a six-week quest to design, build and operate a multi-functional robot that will compete in a "game" designed by Professor Woody Flowers from MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), Dave Lavery, who directs exploratory robotics for NASA, and others. FIRST, founded by well-known inventor Dean Kamen, is entering its 20th year of operation.

At the January 5th kickoff, teams learned about the new game contents and rules for 2008 for the very first time and also picked up a set of starter parts supplied by FIRST from its New Hampshire headquarters. While some robotic components and concepts are reused from previous years, FIRST always designs a brand new game with different tactics each year so challenges become fresh and innovative, while also not giving experienced teams too much of an advantage over rookie teams.

At each regional, teams compete in a spirited, no-holds-barred tournament on a large playing field; complete with referees, cheerleaders, scoreboards and time clocks. Participants also compete for other awards, including for community service, marketing, web site design and computer animation.

"What may be even more remarkable about the FIRST Robotics experience is the fact that these high school kids - along with the guidance of teachers, professional engineers and other business mentors who volunteer huge amounts of their time - complete in six weeks what many companies would give their technical staff a full year to work on," added Castaing. "The youth and adults involved in FIRST truly provide a glimpse of our educational, technological and economic future when the generations merge to build robots for head-to-head competitions that stress gracious professionalism. The program has been so successful that colleges and universities nationwide have made $9 million in scholarships available only to FIRST participants."

Accomplished inventor Dean Kamen founded FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) in 1989 to inspire an appreciation of science and technology in young people. Based in Manchester, N.H., FIRST designs accessible, innovative programs to build self-confidence, knowledge, and life skills while motivating young people to pursue opportunities in science, technology, and engineering. With the support of many of the world's most well-known companies, the not-for-profit organization hosts the FIRST Robotics Competition and FIRST Tech Challenge for high-school students, the FIRST LEGO(R) League for children 9-14 years old, and the Junior FIRST LEGO League for 6 to 9 year-olds. To learn more about FIRST, go to


Tom Lang
Phone: (734) 953-3500

Related articles