For the competition, students programmed and drove their robots to perform various tasks, such as placing cargo on a cargo ship.

For the competition, students programmed and drove their robots to perform various tasks, such as placing cargo on a cargo ship.

Photo by Deb Jacques


Southfield A&T hosts FIRST robotics competition

By: Kayla Dimick | Southfield Sun | Published March 6, 2019

 The Mech Warriors get ready to compete March 1.

The Mech Warriors get ready to compete March 1.

Photo by Deb Jacques

 Brother Rice High School junior Thomas Dailey, Marian High School senior Clare Adams, coach Eric Savage and Marian High School junior Ellie Kindseth work on their robot March 1 at the FIRST Robotics competition at Southfield High School for the Arts and Technology. Students from Brother Rice and Marian came together as the Mech Warriors team for the two-day competition.

Brother Rice High School junior Thomas Dailey, Marian High School senior Clare Adams, coach Eric Savage and Marian High School junior Ellie Kindseth work on their robot March 1 at the FIRST Robotics competition at Southfield High School for the Arts and Technology. Students from Brother Rice and Marian came together as the Mech Warriors team for the two-day competition.

Photos by Deb Jacques

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SOUTHFIELD — Ladies and gentlemen, start your robots. 

On March 1 and 2, students and staff of Southfield High School for the Arts and Technology hosted a FIRST Robotics competition at the school, 24675 Lahser Road, where 40 high school-aged teams competed for a spot in the World Championship in Detroit in April. 

The theme of the competition was “Destination: Deep Space.” Each team was tasked with building a fully functioning robot capable of performing tasks during the competition. 

Games were played on a 27-by-54 foot-field, and each match was 2 minutes and 30 seconds long. 

Throughout each round, the teams’ robots had to navigate through a 15-second sandstorm period, where the vision of the drivers was blocked by a curtain. Teams had to pre-program their robots or make use of an onboard camera. After the sandstorm passed, the goal was to have the robots place panels and cargo onto makeshift cargo ships and rocket ships. 

During the opening ceremony March 1, Southfield Public Schools Superintendent Jennifer Martin-Green welcomed the 40 teams to Southfield.

“Many say that robotics is the future. I beg to differ,” Martin-Green said. “You are our future. Robotics is the industry. You are learning skills that will transcend any career that you do. Your ability to use your collaborative relationships with your team, your creative genius and innovation, your communication skills … and your critical thinking will propel you into deep space.”

Zannatun Alim, 17, a senior at Detroit International Academy for Young Women, competed with the Pink Panthers, an all-girls team. 

“Since freshman year, I’ve been doing robotics nonstop. I enjoy every single bit of it — all the teamwork, all the cooperation that goes into it, working with others, learning new things — and I’ve just been captivated since,” Alim said. 

A bonus, Alim said, is that all the team members are friends. 

“It can get frustrating and hard sometimes, but with the special bond that we have as a close-knit team, I really do appreciate that,” she said. 

Diane Antishin, vice president of human resources and chief diversity and inclusion officer at DTE Energy, also helped open up the competition. The DTE Foundation was a title sponsor for the competition. 

“We believe that FIRST Robotics is helping to prepare that next generation of young people for careers in STEM — science, technology, engineering and math,” she said. “It is so core and central to our business and the work we do every day.” 

Antishin said she enjoyed experiencing the high energy in the room.

“There’s a concept called ‘gracious professionalism’ that they teach all the kids to behave that way in the competition, which means if a competitor’s robot breaks down, you get points for helping that person get their robot back up and running,” she said. “And the idea is the spirit of we want to compete, but we want to compete with others when they’re at their best. And I just love that idea of how we can help each other out.”


The Southfield A&T team, the Ninetyfouriors, took first place at the competition, as well as winning the Team Spirit award. 

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