Lapeer County Press pens editorial on FIRST Robotics

What follows is an editorial from the Lapeer County Press following the recent World Championships of First Robotics held in Detroit this year. We were proud to have two teams representing LCS in the competition and thrilled that both made it to the playoffs!!

From LCP:

Robotics students meet World head-on

County Press reporters have attended robotics workshops, we’ve watched students build their robots, we’ve watched competitions at Kettering University in Flint, but we’ve never been to a World Championship — until last week.

It left a profound impression on the reporters who attended the FIRST World Championships held at Cobo Center. Inside Cobo during competition the sound of spectators who filled bleachers that lined the length of the main floor was deafening as the robotics teams were cheered on by their coaches, families and the tens of thousands in attendance of this truly inspiring spectacle on the World stage.

Representing Lapeer County among 1,400 teams from 62 countries were three teams from the Lapeer area — the Chimeras, Strike Zone and GalakTech Invaders who competed Thursday through Saturday with the best of the best.

Combined there were more than 30,000 youth from around the world who gathered in Detroit, a city and metro region Amazon skipped over for consideration of a second headquarters in part because the high-tech giant said we didn’t have the brain power to sustain a workforce it needs. Judging by what the Lapeer-area teams achieved and many others from across the state, it won’t be too long before the talent pool increases after these exceptional students graduate.

Many corporate representatives were on hand at the FIRST World Championship to recruit students to come work for them when they finish their studies. The event also included Scholarship Row where participants, parents and mentors were able to talk with representatives from some of the colleges, universities and organizations that make FIRST scholarships available. Seniors were able to find out about scholarships that are still available for the coming fall, and for freshmen, it’s never too early to start thinking about college. In 2018, more than $50 million in college scholarships are available to FIRST participants from nearly 200 providers.

The Chimeras were honored to win the Industrial Design Award sponsored by General Motors which celebrates form and function in an efficiently designed machine that effectively addresses the game challenge. To win a design award at the World level is an incredible achievement. Out of two Divisions, 135 teams, the Lapeer robot was chosen for this award. Just as exciting as what the kids brought home from the FIRST World Championship is the enthusiasm they hold for the rest of the year. The competition season may be over, but the students are not done yet. FIRST is a year-round program and local students and teams will stay focused to raise the bar even higher for next year. This will be achieved through off-season competitions, mentoring youth teams, volunteerism in the community, thanking their generous sponsors while taking tours of their facilities and hosting events like Robo-Con to be held July 21 at The Center for Innovation in Lapeer.

We’re proud to support Robo-Con because experts say individuals who participate in FIRST are twice as likely to major in science or engineering and 41 percent of all students and 33 percent of women who participate in FIRST go on to major in engineering.

Gov. Rick Snyder attended the FIRST World Championships on Friday to celebrate the achievements of Michigan’s FIRST Robotics teams and highlight the importance of STEM education. The computer executive turned-politician famously dubbed himself “one tough nerd” as he campaigned in 2010 for governor, and knows the importance of a good education especially one based on a STEM curriculum — science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Michigan is a national leader with 508 FIRST Robotics teams — more teams than California and New York combined. FIRST Robotics is an example of educators and employers coming together to help students gain real-world skills and change the way that talent is developed, retained and attracted.

Organizers have signed a three-year deal to host the FIRST World Championship in Detroit. We’re confident even more Lapeer County school districts will have teams in World competition next year, and look forward to telling their stories along the way.

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