A FIRST first!

Mar 9, 2009

The Kettering University FIRST Robotics District Competition March 6-7 attracted thousands of visitors to campus and set an attendance record for robotics at Kettering.

The "Lunacy" was fun this weekend, but isn't fun the goal of FIRST Robotics?

Even conservative estimates of the crowd size in KetteringUniversity's RecreationCenter on Friday and Saturday (March 6-7, 2009) totaled more than 2,000 visitors for the two days -- making it Kettering's largest robotics event ever.  The 2009 theme was "Lunacy," in honor of the 40th anniversary of the moon walk in 1969.
"It was almost perfection," saidBob Nichols,Kettering's director of external relations who co-chaired this district contest.  "The quality of play and enthusiasm went up three notches from Friday to Saturday," Nichols said.  "We had well over 1,000 people a day attend our event.  It was an excellent opportunity for us to show off our buildings, labs, faculty and especially our students.  I send my congratulations to all our FIRST participants."

Nichols said the event attracted some new team names to campus, including the Desperate Penguins of Okemos, the Fighting Pi of Armada and the MacGyvers from Lapeer East High School.  The U.P.'s Copperbots made the long drive from Calumet and the Fighting Tuna swam upstream from Birmingham.

Old friends like Big Mo from Carman-Ainsworth, F.I.R.E. from Flint Public Schools and the Leviathons of Fenton helped host the competition.  Co-chairing the district competition with Nichols was Pat Major of Goodrich, who brought along the former national champions Martian and More Martian teams from Goodrich High School to compete.

Kettering's own Metal Muscle was on the team roster, too, assisted by Dr. Henry "Doc K" Kowalski of Mechanical Engineering, who split his time between advising the Metal Muscle mentors and recruiting incoming freshmen in his unique FIRST style.  Other faculty who stopped by to see the games were ME's Tim Cameron, Janet Brelin-Fornari and Joel Berry, who brought his daughter, Kim; ECE's Mark Thompson, Vice Presidents Michael Harris and Dennis Washington and Marketing's Julie Ulseth, to mention just a few.

A three-team alliance from Goodrich, Midlandand Rochester Hills won the Kettering District, which included 40 of Michigan's best high school robotics teams.  The winners are:
Team 70, More Martians from Goodrich High School, 
Team 245, Adambots from RochesterAdams High School and 
Team 2619, The Charge from Midland Public Schools. 
They beat a three-team alliance, who received the District Finalist Awards:
Team 65, the Huskie Brigade from Pontiac Northern High School,
Team, 2586, Copperbots from Calumet High School and
Team 2771, Code Red from Grand River Preparatory High School in Grandville.
The event's prestigious honor, The Chairman's Award, went to Team 33, the Killer Bees from Notre Dame Preparatory in Auburn Hills for their blend of technological skill, entrepreneurial enthusiasm and community service that extends overseas.

Other awards and recipients are:
Engineering Inspiration: Team 68, Truck Town Thunder from Pontiac.

Rookie All-Star: Team 2771, Code Red from Grandville.

Delphi's Driving Tomorrow's Technology: Team 548, Robostangs from NorthvilleHigh School.

General Motors Industrial Design: Team 70, More Martians from Goodrich.

Motorola Quality: Team 245, Adambots from Rochester Hills.

Rockwell Automation Innovation in Control: Team 1504, Desperate Penguins from Okemos High Schooland Lansing Christian High School.

Xerox Creativity: Team 1718, the Fighting Pi from Armada.

Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers Entrepreneurship: Team 27, Team Rush from Clarkston.

Rookie Inspiration: Team 3060, the Fighting Tuna from Roeper High School in Birmingham.

Johnson & Johnson Gracious Professionalism: Team 2619, The Charge from Midland.

Imagery: Team 1025, Impi Robotics from Ferndale.

Chrysler Team Spirit: Team 2771, Code Red from Grandville.

Highest Rookie Seed, Team 2771, Code Red from Grandville.

Underwriters Laboratories Industrial Safety: Team 2337, the Enginerds from Grand Blanc.

Best Website: Team 245, Adambots from Rochester Hills.

Judges' Award: Team 1, Juggernauts from Pontiac.

Judges' Award: Team 862, Lightning Robotics from Canton.

All 40 teams at the Kettering District were fromMichigan. They were:

Team 1, The Juggernauts, Pontiac

Team 27, Team Rush, Clarkston

Team 33, Killer Bees, Auburn Hills

Team 49, Robotic Knights, Saginaw

Team 65, Huskie Brigade, Pontiac

Team 66, Flyers, Ypsilanti

Team 68, TruckTownThunder, Pontiac

Team 70, More Martians, Goodrich

Team 107, Team Robotics, Holland

Team 245, Adambots, Rochester Hills

Team 302, Dragons, LakeOrion

Team 314, Big Mo, Flint

Team 322, Flint F.I.R.E., Flint

Team 397, Knight Riders, Flint

Team 468, Aftershock, Flint

Team 470, Alpha Omega Robotics, Ypsilanti

Team 494, Martians, Goodrich

Team 548, RoboStangs, Northville

Team 818, Steel Armadillos, Warren

Team 830, Rat Pack, Ann Arbor

Team 862, Lightning Robotics, Canton

Team 894, Chargers Robotics, Flint

Team 910, Foley Freeze, Madison Heights

Team 1025, IMPI Robotics, Ferndale

Team 1189, Gearheads, Grosse Pointe

Team 1243, Dragons, Swartz Creek

Team 1322, Leviathons, Fenton

Team 1504, Desperate Penguins, Okemos

Team 1506, Metal Muscle,North Oakland County

Team 1684, MacGyvers, Lapeer

Team 1718, Fighting Pi, Armada

Team 1783, Firebots, West Branch

Team 2145, Hazmats, LakeFenton

Team 2163, Chrome Panthers, Lapeer

Team 2337, Enginerds, Grand Blanc

Team 2586, Copperbots, Calumet

Team 2619, The Charge, Midland

Team 2627, Grace Tech Royals, Ann Arbor

Team 2771, Code Red, Grandville

Team 3060, The Fighting Tuna, Birmingham

For more details on this list, visit: https://my.usfirst.org/myarea/index.lasso?page=teamlist&menu=false&event=GG&year=2009&event_type=FRC

The Kettering University FIRST Robotics District was one of seven district events in Michigan. Michiganwill also have a state championship contest in Ypsilanti in early April.  Nichols said that the FIRST in Michigan district competition is a model for the nation and is based, in part, on the success of the low-cost Rookie Regional hosted last year at Kettering University.

Additionally, there will be 40 regional competitions in the U.S., Canada and Israel, which will lead to the 2009 FIRST Championship at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, April 16-18.

FIRST Robotics (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) is now in its 18th season and is a national effort to inspire youth to explore career possibilities in engineering, science and technology. The event is a head-to-head competition between large radio-controlled robots built by teams of high school students and sponsoring engineers.

For more on FIRST's program in Michigan, visit www.firstinmichigan.org.

Watch WWJ Newsradio 950 video coverage of the event.

Check out more photos of this exciting event.

Written by Patricia Mroczek