FIRST Robotics returns to Wayne State for district competition in March

FIRST Robotics students working on a robot

Wayne State University will welcome approximately 1,200 high school students from Detroit and other nearby communities for the FIRST Robotics Detroit District Championship. The 40-team competition, which is free and open to the public, will take place March 11 and 12 at the Matthaei Physical Education Center on Wayne State’s Midtown campus.

“We are excited to bring back FIRST Robotics to Wayne State and showcase our university to high school students,” said Jasmine Roberson, director of community engagement for the College of Engineering. “FIRST competition is an energetic event showcasing students' robotic machines and their major commitment to an extracurricular team.”

Each team, aided by faculty and industry mentors, has six weeks to design and deliver their individual robot to meet specific tournament requirements. This year’s game is Charged Up, in which teams are challenged to integrate sustainable energy into their design.

Nicholas Matthes, a Wayne State mechanical engineering student who will speak at the event, was part of the Blue Devils robotics team at Richmond High School. He remains connected to FIRST Robotics as a mentor of Notre Dame Prep’s Killer Bees team.

“Being part of FIRST is very rewarding, which is why I continue to stay involved. It has molded me into the engineering student and professional I am today,” said Matthes, who is also an intern with BAE Systems, the 2023 FIRST Championship presenting sponsor. “Bringing this event to Wayne State is a huge honor for the university to show prospective students what really goes on here in Detroit, and why our motto is ‘Warrior Strong.’”

The event at Wayne State closes out the second of five weeks of district competitions leading into the Michigan State Championships at Saginaw Valley State University beginning April 6. The FIRST Robotics World Championship will be held April 19-22 in Houston.

“These young innovators are already creating solutions far beyond the bounds of a textbook,” said Ali Abolmaali, dean of the Wayne State University College of Engineering. “These students represent the future, and it will be wonderful to see them in action on our campus.”

“We are so excited for Wayne State to host a district event for FIRST in Michigan. They are a vital part of Southeast Michigan’s secondary education scene,” added Gail Alpert, president of FIRST in Michigan. “This is the perfect opportunity for our teams to explore their fabulous campus and for Wayne State to see the talented students we've developed.”

Many of the participants will have the opportunity to continue their education at Wayne State, should they so choose, through the Heart of Detroit Tuition Pledge, which offers free tuition to students of Detroit high schools or Detroit residents earning a high school diploma.

Attendance and parking at the event are free. Opening ceremonies start at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, March 11 and at 9 a.m. on Sunday, March 12; the venue will open at 8 a.m. each day. The Matthaei Center is located at the intersection of Warren Avenue and the southbound Lodge Freeway Service Drive on the southwest corner of campus.


Photo courtesy of FIRST in Michigan (taken by Daniel Ernst)

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