Jul 30, 2001

Robots will roll and music will pound when the Second Annual Kettering Kickoff opens its doors Saturday, Sept. 22, at Kettering University.

Robots will roll and music will pound when the Second Annual Kettering Kickoff opens its doors Saturday, Sept. 22, at Kettering University. Events will be in the Connie and Jim John Recreation Center.

Kettering Kickoff is a robotics competition for high school students inspired by the national FIRST program. FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) is an alliance of business, education, government and volunteers who come together to inspire tomorrow's engineers. Thirty-two teams are expected to compete this year in the local contest that "kicks off" the 2001-2002 competition year for FIRST. Regional championships are hosted in March at sites around the state and national finals are at Disney World In Orlando, Fla., each April.

Kettering Kickoff is sponsored by Kettering University and these teams:
Team 49 -- Buena Vista
Team 70 -- Auto City Bandits
Team 314 -- Megatron Oracles
Team 322 -- FIRE Team
Team 397 -- Knight Riders
Team 468 -- Explores
Team 471 -- Cyber Tigers
Team 494 -- Martians

Teams that have already enrolled for the Sept. 22 contest are:
Buena Vista (Team 49)
Auto City Bandits (Team 70)
Team Macomb (Team 217)
Troy (TEC CREW, Team 226)
Megatron Oracles (Team 314)
Oconee (Team 343)
Saginaw Community Schools (Team 703)
Team Rush (Team 27)
Robocards (Team 5)
Knight Riders (397)

7 a.m., Check in
7:30-8:45 a.m., Practice Sessions
9 a.m., Opening Ceremonies
9:15 a.m. - 1 p.m., Seeding Matches
1-2 p.m., Lunch
2-3 p.m., Elimination Matches
3:30-5 p.m., Awards and Closing Ceremonies

Kettering Kickoff is an opportunity for FIRST teams to practice their robot competition skills and enjoy the camaraderie that the national contest provides for high school students. For more information on the Second Annual Kettering Kickoff, call Sally Hicks at (810) 762-9760 or

Directions to Kettering University, which is located on the corner of Third and Chevrolet avenues in Flint, are available at:

VISITORS WELCOME: Kettering Kickoff is free and open to the public. Bring your cheering voice!!

THE GAME: Game 2001, from the FIRST National Championships, will be used during Kettering Kickoff. The game is composed of two phases: Qualification Matches and Elimination Matches. In each, four teams work together as an alliance and try to achieve as high a score as possible. All teams in an alliance share the alliance score. However, during the qualification matches some teams may earn additional bonus points that apply only to their teams.

During the qualification matches, randomly assigned teams are partnered to form alliances just prior to the start of each match. Alliances last only for the duration of a match. Each team is assigned to one of four divisions and participates only with other teams in the same division. All teams are ranked after playing an equal number of qualification matches. Following the conclusion of the qualification matches, the top ranked teams form alliances and go on to compete in the elimination matches.

Alliances formed for the elimination matches stay together for the remainder of the event. Each alliance is composed of five teams. The fifth team serves as an alternate and can be used if a robot in the alliance is damaged or for reasons of scoring strategy. During a match, the alliance scores points by:

  • placing balls into goals,
  • positioning the robots in the End Zone at the end of the match,
  • moving the goals onto a semi-stable bridge which must be
  • balanced at the end of the match,
  • ending the match prior to the two-minute time limit and
  • carrying a robot across the field using a stretcher if the stretcher
  • is in the End Zone at the end of the match.

Each alliance competes using four team-built robots, 12 students and eight mentors. There are 40 small balls, approximately 13 inches in diameter. There are also four balls approximately 30 inches in diameter. Balls are inflated to size, not pressure. There are two goals each seven feet high with caster wheels around the base that may be moved around the playing field. One goal starts near the Start Zone, the other starts near the End Zone. Dividing the field in half is an 18-inch high railing with a central bridge. Robots may pass over the bridge or rails to access the opposite end of the field. The bridge is centrally supported on a beam approximately six inches wide, such that it may tilt toward either end of remain level.

The robots must compete within the bounds of the playing field, while the students are located at stations just outside the playing field. Only students and robots may score points with the balls. In each qualification match, the teams in the alliance receive scores that are added to their running total for the event. At the conclusion of the qualification matches, each team drops it lowest match score and the teams are then ranked according to total points.

At the start of each match, the alliance station will contain 20 small balls and four large balls located at the far end of the playing field. All balls may be used to score points. Teams may opt to use a stretcher on which a robot may be conveyed around the field. If the stretcher is used, it must start in the same position as the robot on the stretcher would normally start.


Founded in 1989, FIRST is a nationwide high-tech sporting event that pits robots designed and built by teams of students, teachers and corporate engineers in head-to-head competitions. Teams receive an identical kit that includes a microprocessor, radio-frequency transmitters and receivers, electrical components, motors, batteries and other hardware. Immediately following an annual opening ceremony each January, high school students gather with their corporate or university sponsors to begin the six-week process of designing, building and testing their robot in preparation for the regional and national competitions. Historically, the retention rate for teams participating year-to-year is almost 90 percent.

For more on FIRST... visit the FIRST web site at: