FIRST Robotics: A Varsity Sport Unlike Any Other

By Josh Paciorek | April 21, 2014

It's a varsity sport unlike any other, where students build robots to compete for victory. Earlier this month, Governor Rick Snyder saw the competition first hand at the FIRST Robotics State Finals at Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti, where teams from 64 high schools participated.

Gov. Snyder said he was happy to return after attending last year's championship.

"I had to come back. This is the most rocking place in Michigan, isn't it?" the governor said. "The amount of learning and hard work that went into everyone being here today is something we should be so proud of. Congratulations to everyone for being at States!"

FIRST Robotics is a nation-wide competition that allows high school students the opportunity to build, design, and program remote-controlled robots that battle in two-minute games. Often, students get to work side-by-side with professional engineers while building the robots.

Gov. Snyder has supported Michigan's FIRST Robotics teams and their goals, investing $3 million in FIRST Robotics last year and recommending $2 million more in this year's budget. The investment is paying off. Home to 278 teams, Michigan has more FIRST Robotics teams than any other state in the country.

"These students work together on hardware, software, design, in terms of a business plan, marketing, and finance," the governor said. "And we're going to stay on this because it's such a great event, and I encourage anyone not in FIRST Robotics to get involved."

FIRST Robotics also helps students develop critical career skills they'll need for future jobs in robotics and the STEM fields. Michigan is at the center of the fast-growing robotics industry with nearly 58,000 robotics jobs, the third most in the country. Gov. Snyder reaffirmed his support for higher education in STEM fields in his 2015 budget, which recommends an $80.3 million increase for public universities and an $8.9 million increase for community colleges.

At the event, the governor said that he is ready for the world to see the talent being developed in Michigan.

"Let's have a great competition here because we got to just keep on going to win nationals and internationals and show the rest of the country and the world that this is the robotics center of the world," Gov. Snyder said.