FIRST of Michigan Hosts First Robotics District Competition at Macomb Community College

This annual robotics competition features 36 competing high school robotics teams, tours for local businesses and more.

Science, technology, engineering and math — more commonly referred to as STEM — play a huge role in many of today’s career paths, which means that exposing our kids to STEM is more important than ever.

To increase these opportunities, Macomb County’s Macomb Automation and Robotics Zone (MARZ) is offering robot-building workshops at its home base at the Velocity Center in Sterling Heights as well as other locations across the county.

“MARZ was established in 2019 as a non-profit organization with a mission to provide STEM opportunities focused on automation and robotics for youth throughout Macomb County,” says Vicky Rowinski, Director of Macomb County Planning and Economic Development and Board Vice President for MARZ.

“Working in collaboration with education and industry partners,  MARZ  provides opportunities for industry professionals to mentor and meet students interested in robotics. We are a connection point between students who want to tinker and play, and a community of professional adults who want to give back and mentor.”

And robotics is big in Macomb County with more than 36 local high school teams set to compete at the FIRST of Michigan (FIM) Robotics District Competition.

This competition is to be held March 31-April 1, 2023, at the Macomb Community College Sports and Expo Center, and pits each team’s robots against one another.

“During the season, which opened up in January, high school teams design and build full-size robots that compete at various events throughout the state,” Rowinski explains. “Teams that excel (in this competition) move on to the FIM State Competition and even have an opportunity to compete at the FIRST World Competition, hosted in Houston, Texas, which brings in high school teams from all over the world to compete with their robots.”

In addition to the competition itself, local businesses are invited to come and explore the ways that they can support local robotics teams in the running through money, materials or mentoring.

“Many of our businesses want to give back and inspire our next generation for careers in STEM,” Rowinski says. This event gives them a behind-the-scenes tour of what goes into building and competing their robots.”

Businesses interested in learning more may sign up to be a part of these VIP tours via the EventBrite listing.

Guests at the event and those participating in the competition will discover the many ways kids in grades K-12 can get involved in the unique robotics programming offered in Macomb.

“MARZ is more than just a place. It is an environment where we inspire the next generation for careers in high tech and high demand fields,” Rowinski explains. “From an economic and workforce development perspective, Macomb County has one of the most talented, and diverse, workforces in the U.S. We have more than 1,600 companies that employ almost 40,000 highly-skilled workers who specialize in designing, prototyping, producing and managing the supply chain across STEM fields — but despite these positive statistics, there are more than 1,100 open STEM positions.”

“In fact, the single biggest challenge our businesses face is finding and retaining qualified employees,” she adds. “The partnership with MARZ and Macomb County Planning and Economic Development has a long-term benefit in fueling the talent pipeline for the next generation workforce.”

For more information on living in Macomb County, visit Make Macomb Your Home


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