Detroit, MI — If you don’t think that this year’s FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics District Competition is going to be tough-think again. Registration reached capacity in just 4 hours. 15 Detroit Public Schools are in. Cass Technical is one of those schools and along with being a strong competitor the school will host the competition, March 12-14, making Cass one of the first public high schools to earn that honor. The activity begins at 7:30 a.m. and ends at 9:00 p.m. on Friday, and runs from 7:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. on Saturday. There will be a total of 40 teams and 2,500 students from Southeast Michigan participating. There are about 118 FIRST teams in the state and seven District competition sites. The winners from the District competitions will go to the state finals.

The competition is the first joint venture between Cass and Michigan State University since Cass was recently honored by being named MSU’s first Signature School. That translates into a very close working relationship between the institutions, major support from MSU, more student-focused projects in the future and increased learning for all involved.

The robotics teams members have received support and guidance from mentors from major technology-based corporations such as Ford, Chrysler, ITT, BAE Systems, DTE Energy, the GM Tech Center and more. There are between 15 and 32 youngsters per team with three robots which is called an alliance. FIRST provided them with a kit of parts that they had to use to design and build a robot in six weeks. In competition, their robots will have to perform specific tasks on an enclosed course, guided by a student using a remote control unit. The team members not only learn about the electronics and physics of building the robot, they also pick up some design skills such as customizing their units to accommodate certain equipment and functions.

For the 2 days of the competition, the first three floors of Cass will be filled with robotics and MSU information, representatives, family, friends and fans, along with invited DPS elementary students who will get a chance to see what might be a part of their future. Those students are learning from a curriculum created by the Cass robotics team. There will also be MSU registration on site, 20 DPS counselors and some from MSU, food served by Golightly CTC students, a display of engineering award winning cars built by MSU students, a presentation by former astronaut, Dr. Catherine Clark from NASA, video presentations, Q&A with engineering students and a theatrical presentation. In this competition, the cheering sections count so supporters will sit under the logo of their favorite team and try to be the loudest. The competition will also feature a high-powered opening ceremony at 10:30 a.m. Friday, featuring the marching band, the pom-pom team, cheerleaders and the robotics teams.

Competing is a great preparation for the real world of engineering and related sciences. It requires discipline, sacrifice, a desire to learn the skills of technology and to practice one of FIRST’s most important rules, gracious professionalism – tasks DPS students haven proven to be up to year after year.

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