Michigan sending the most FIRST Robotics teams in the world to championshipsSee all competing Michigan teams—and a special look at the 8 from Genesee County

More young engineers and programmers from Michigan will compete in the FIRST international robotics competitions than any other state in the nation—or any other country, for that matter.

Genesee County is sending eight teams to St. Louis April 26-29 for the championship competition, according to FIRST website. They are among more than 90 Michigan teams—which is more than California. More than China. More than Mexico. 

More than, well, anywhere else. 

“Michigan has always been a leader," said Bob Nichols, director of the FIRST Robotics Center at Kettering University. “For the new teams that have never been there before, this is just an awesome experience.”

With more than 40 teams, Genesee County is a leader in a state that is the leader in robotics. 
Still don’t understand what robotics is all about?

Check out these recent Flintside stories: 

• Get a deeper look at the competitions and the Flint-area's prominence in robotics—Genesee County: Home to some of world's best robot builders ... and they are teens (and younger) 

• Read the perspective of one robotics dad: The rise of robotics

Teams compete with their robots by completing a series of specific tasks, earning points along the way. The students use both automation and joystick-like controllers in loud, somewhat chaotic, head-to-head contests that draw thousands of people.

Genesee County teams headed to the St. Louis championships include: 

• More Martians from Goodrich: Team 70, founded in 1998. This year’s awards include Innovation in Control Award (at Districts-Kettering University Event #1) and Team Spirit Award (at Districts-Lansing).

• The Megatron Oracles from Carman-Ainsworth. Team 314, founded in 1999. This year’s awards include Innovation in Control Award (at Michigan State Championship-Ford Division), Excellence in Engineering Award (at Districts-Kettering University Event #2), and Event Winner (at Districts-Livonia Event). 

• Martians from Goodrich. Team 494, founded in 2001. This year’s awards include Safety Award (at Michigan State Championship-Dow Division), Safety Award (at Districts-Kettering University Event #2), Innovation in Control Award (at Districts-Kettering University Event #2), Event Winner (at Districts-Lansing), and Quality Award (at Districts-Lansing).

• The Power Chargers from Powers Catholic High School. Team 894, founded in 2002. Robot name: Bad Boy. This year’s awards include Event Winner (at Districts-Escanaba) and Judges' Award (at Districts-Escanaba).

• Metal Muscle in Flint. Team 1506, founded in 2005. Robot name: Carly. This year’s awards include FIRST Dean's List Finalist Award, presented to Tori Bradburn (at Michigan State Championship), Event Winner (at Districts-Midland), and Quality Award (at Districts-Midland).

• EngiNERDs from Grand Blanc. Team 2337, founded in 2008. Robot name: NERDx. This year’s awards include Districts Championship Winner (Michigan State Championship-DTE Energy Foundation Division), Industrial Design Award (at Michigan State Championship-DTE Energy Foundation Division), Gracious Professionalism Award (at Districts-Kettering University Event #2), Innovation in Control Award (at Districts-Shepherd), Event Finalist (at Districts-Troy), and Gracious Professionalism Award (at Districts-Troy).
• Titanium Tigers from Fenton. Team 5114, founded in 2014. This year’s awards include Districts Championship Finalist (at Michigan State Championship), Districts Championship Winner (at Michigan State Championship-Ford Division), Event Finalist (at Districts-Kettering University Event #1), Entrepreneurship Award (at Districts-Kettering University Event #1), and Districts Chairman's Award (at Districts-Lansing).

• Hybrid Hornets from Kearsley. Team 5150, founded in 2014. This year’s awards include Districts Event Finalist (at Districts-Kettering University Event #1) and Quality Award (at Districts-Marysville).

More than 400 teams throughout the US as well as Israel, the Netherlands and Taiwan will compete in St. Louis. All Michigan teams are going to St. Louis, one of two championships hosted by FIRST Robotics. The other competition is April 19-22 in Houston, also with more than 400 teams.  

“It’s so much fun,” said Gail Alpert, president of Michigan FIRST Robotics. “You have an opportunity to meet teams from all over the world. … There are kids that have the same interests as you. There are so many and you are not alone.”

Michigan is buoyed by its manufacturing roots, deep sponsorships and a unique state program that provides grants to teams through the Michigan Department of Education. Created after Gov. Rick Snyder visited a state FIRST robotics competition, the grants fund stipends for team mentors and is designed to eliminate financial barriers to participation. 
Robotics appeals to schools, parents, students, and businesses because there are $50 million in scholarships available nationwide, it applies classroom learning, feels like a varsity sport, and recruits students into high-demand fields. 

“We are the only one doing this to this magnitude,” Alpert said. 

Here is the full list of Michigan teams expected to compete in St. Louis:

(Listed as team number, team name, city. Genesee County teams are bold and link to the team website when available.)

27,Team RUSH, Clarkston
33, Killer Bees, Auburn Hills
51, Wings of Fire, Pontiac
66, Grizzly Robotics, Ypsilanti
67, The HOT Team, Highland
68, Truck Town Thunder, Ortonville
70, More Martians, Goodrich
74, Team C.H.A.O.S., Holland
85, B.O.B. (Built on Brains), Zeeland
107, Team R.O.B.O.T.I.C.S., Holland
141, WOBOT, Holland
201, The FEDS, Rochester
217, ThunderChickens, Sterling Heights
226, Hammerheads, Troy
244, RoboDawgs 3D, Grandville
245, Adambots, Rochester
302, The Dragons, Lake Orion
314, The Megatron Oracles, Flint
469, Las Guerrillas, Bloomfield Hills
470, Grizzly Robotics, Ypsilanti
494, Martians, Goodrich
503, Frog Force, Novi
548, Robostangs, Northville
862, Lightning Robotics, Canton
910, The Foley Freeze, Madison Heights
1023, Bedford Express, Temperance
1025, IMPI Robotics, Ferndale
1481, The Riveters, Farmington Hills
1506, Metal Muscle, Flint
1684, Chimeras, Lapeer
1718, The Fighting Pi, Armada
1918, NC GEARS, Fremont
2075, Enigma Robotics, Grand Rapids
2137, TORC, Oxford
2337, EngiNERDs, Grand Blanc
2611, Jacktown Vectors, Jackson
2619, The Charge, Midland
2767, Stryke Force, Kalamazoo
2832, The Livonia Warriors, Livonia
2834, Bionic Black Hawks, Bloomfield Hills
2851, Crevolution, Sterling Heights
2960, Automation Nation, Birmingham
3098, The Captains, Waterford
3357, COMETS, Grand Rapids
3414, Hackbots, Farmington
3452, GreengineerZ, Berrien Springs
3538, RoboJackets, Auburn Hills
3539, Byting Bulldogs, Romeo
3546, Buc'n'Gears, Grand Haven
3547, VIRUS, Monroe
3618, Petoskey Paladins, Petoskey
3620, Average Joes, Saint Joseph
3656, Dreadbots, Dexter
3770, BlitzCreek, Midland
3875, Red Storm Robotics, Kentwood
4003, TriSonics, Allendale
4237, Team Lance-A-Bot, Stevensville
4325, RoboRangers, Cassopolis 
4362, Gems, Brighton
4391, BraveBots, Gladstone
4405, The Atoms Family, Canton
4779, RoboSapiens, Marine City
4961, Shock and Awe-sum, Almont
4967, That ONE Team-OurNextEngineers, Belmont
4970, ICE Cubed, Harris
5053, Lakers, Waterford
5086, Cadillac Connectors, Cadillac
5114, Titanium Tigers, Fenton
5150, Hybrid Hornets, Flint
5155, Bearcats, Ubly
5162, The Big Red Theory, Big Rapids
5166, Fabricators, Freeland
5205, FullMetal-Jackets, Concord
5222, JackBotics, Saginaw
5436, Cyber Cats, Rochester
5462, 2PawR (2 Paw Robotics), Paw Paw
5505, V2 Robotics, Alpena
5675, WiredCats, Mattawan
5509, Like a Boss., Midland
5709, Rudyard Nerf Herders, Rudyard
5980, East Grand Rapids Robotics, Grand Rapids
6066, Rambler Robotics, McBain
6075, Leland Zebrotics, Leland
6344, Yale Jiggawattz, Yale
6538, Linc-Bots, Ypsilanti
6548, Perry RAMBOTS, Perry
6569, Gladiators, Ontonagon
6582, Vestabots, Vestaburg
6637, Wolf Robotics, Carney
6753, CBA RoboKings, Midland

Source: First in Michigan

Read more articles by Marjory Raymer.