2018-01-10 / Community View

FIRST Robotics competition season underway with worldwide kickoff

BY JEFF HOGAN
810-452-2640 • jhogan@mihomepaper.com


Tenth-grade student William Mann works to machine a piece of aluminum in the Chimeras’ workshop at the LCS Center for Innovation. 
Photos by Jeff Hogan Tenth-grade student William Mann works to machine a piece of aluminum in the Chimeras’ workshop at the LCS Center for Innovation. Photos by Jeff Hogan LAPEER COUNTY — Saturday marked kickoff of the 2018 FIRST Robotics competition season. Teams, coaches and mentors gathered at high schools across Lapeer County and the world to learn via a video presentation what this year’s game is and to learn the rules.

Dean Kamen, president, DEKA Research & Development and Founder, FIRST, addressed a crowd of more than 1,000 people at the 2018 FIRST Robotics Competition Season Kickoff at Southern New Hampshire University.

More than 91,000 high-school students on 3,647 teams at 137 venues around the globe joined the 2018 Kickoff via a Twitch live broadcast.

Teams at local kickoffs in Australia, Canada, China, Dominican Republic, Israel, Mexico, Turkey, and the United States watched the proceedings.


Chimeras Coach John Uren addresses the team during Saturday’s 2018 season kickoff event. Chimeras Coach John Uren addresses the team during Saturday’s 2018 season kickoff event. “It’s not about the robots — it’s never been about the robots,” said Kamen, president of DEKA Research & Development. “We are not using kids to build robots. We are using robots to build kids.”

FIRST Robotics Competition finds teams trapped in an 8-bit video game. Each three-team alliance has three ways to help defeat the boss: Tipping the scale or the alliance’s switch in their favor to earn points, exchanging power cubes for power ups (force, boost, and levitate) to gain a temporary advantage during the match, and climbing the scale tower to face the boss. The alliance with the highest score at the end of the match, which includes autonomous and teleoperated periods, defeats the boss and wins the game.


Coach John Uren uses a whiteboard to illustrate equipment placement for this year’s game. Coach John Uren uses a whiteboard to illustrate equipment placement for this year’s game. At Saturday’s kickoff, teams were shown the FIRST Power UP game field and challenge details for the first time, and received the kickoff kit from the Kits of Parts, which is made up of motors, batteries, control system components, construction materials, and a mix of additional automation components — with limited instructions.

Working with adult mentors, students have six weeks to design, build, program, and test their robots to meet the season’s engineering challenge. Once these young inventors build a robot, their teams will participate in one or more of the global 158 regional and district events that measure the effectiveness of each robot, the power of collaboration, and the determination of students.


Looking over the rules for the 2018 competition season were robotic’s alumni Ana Villa, a freshman at the University of Michigan-Flint and Sydney Barker, a senior at Lapeer High School. Looking over the rules for the 2018 competition season were robotic’s alumni Ana Villa, a freshman at the University of Michigan-Flint and Sydney Barker, a senior at Lapeer High School. In Lapeer, 20 students gathered at the Lapeer Community Schools Center for Innovation in the Chimeras Team 1684 to start the new robotics season. The energy and excitement level was high as Coach John Uren divided the team into groups to review and discuss specifics to this year’s competition.

The first regional competition for Lapeer County-area teams will be held March 8-10 at Kettering University in Flint.

By participating in FIRST, students gain confidence to explore the innovation process while learning valuable science, engineering, technology, teamwork, and problem-solving skills. FIRST Robotics Competition participants are eligible to apply for more than $50 million in FIRST scholarships from leading colleges and universities.


Gathered Saturday at the Center for Innovation to kick off the 2018 FIRST Robotics season were (left to right) Ada Storts, Nick Clarke, Jacob LeRoy and Matt Wagner. Gathered Saturday at the Center for Innovation to kick off the 2018 FIRST Robotics season were (left to right) Ada Storts, Nick Clarke, Jacob LeRoy and Matt Wagner. The 2018 FIRST Robotics competition kickoff event was an opportunity for teams from all over the world to come together as a community to share in the excitement of seeing the new game unveiled.

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