Four robotics teams from Livingston County are advancing to the world championships this week, being held in Detroit for the first time.

FIRST Robotics is an international high school robotics competition that gives students real-world engineering experience. This year’s theme was “Power Up” with teams competing on a playing field simulating a classic 1980s video game, with the robots collecting power cubes, which are then deposited on various scales over the course of a two-and-a-half minute match.

Robotics teams from Howell, Brighton and Hartland have qualified for the championships. And while the Fowlerville Area Scientific Technicians, Team #7056, won’t be among them, the team had an outstanding rookie season, winning the All-Star Rookie Award and qualifying for the state championship earlier this month in Saginaw. Brayden Brockway is the team captain and lead mechanic. He says the program is not only beneficial for building relationships but discovering career goals.

The Howell S.C.O.T.S Bots #4776 won the FIRST Robotics Regional Chairman’s Award at the state finals. The award honors the team that best represents a model for other teams to emulate and best embodies the purpose and goals of FIRST. Ashlin Niemiec led that effort for Howell and says it is a very prestigious award even though it isn’t explicitly about robotics, but instead a measure of a team’s impact on fellow students and in the community.

The Hartland Electro Eagles #3536 made it to semi-finals in the Dow Division at the state championship. Kyle Albrecht says they had a good showing overall, although qualifications didn’t go that great due to adverse conditions of the robot and general wear and tear. But with FIRST they learn how to work through problems and make the best with what they have, a lesson that has applications in all aspects of life.

Livingston County has a vibrant robotics culture and the number of local teams headed to the world championships demonstrates their talent. While it’s a competition, teamwork is a big part of the program, which was evident in the state championships earlier this month in Saginaw. Brighton’s TechnoDogs #3707 won the DTE Division to advance to the finals. Alex Hogge did a lot of programming work this past year but has had multiple roles with the team. He noted how helpful other teams can be, even potential competitors, noting how team #4362, the Charyl Stockwell Prep Academy’s GEMS, helped them when a teammates drive train failed, lending them a spare that allowed them to continue playing, even though the two Brighton teams were on opposing alliances.

Even though the CSPA GEMS lost in a tie breaker to the alliance featuring Brighton’s TechnoDogs, they too are going to the world championship. Owen Poloski is the team’s lead mechanic and driver on the field and said it was no problem helping out the fellow Brighton team as it is all part of the "gracious professionalism" that FIRST embodies.

Representatives for all of Livingston County’s robotics teams were guests on Sunday’s Viewpoint program, which you can hear through a link below.

The world championships take place April 25th through the 28th at Cobo Hall, with opening and closing festivities at Ford Field.

Top Picture: Courtsy of FIRST in Michigan

Middle Picture: Brighton TechnoDogs #3707 competing at state finals in Saginaw.

Bottom Picture: (left to right) Owen Poloski, Kyle Albrecht, Brayden Brockway, Ashlin Niemiec, Jon King, Alex Hogge, David DeLisle and Nathan Gould.