It’s time to “Breakaway” and join the fun at the 11th Annual Kettering Kickoff Robotics Competition at Kettering University on Saturday, Sept. 18. Many of Michigan’s best high school robotics teams will compete in Kettering’s Recreation Center from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.
Kettering Kickoff Founder Bob Nichols said this year’s Kickoff roster features 39 teams – one from Israel and the rest from Michigan. “We are delighted to have an international team as part of our competition this year,” Nichols said. “I met the coaches of FG – Tamra from Israel at the championship games in Atlanta in April and we’re so pleased they are able to compete in our event.”
The Kettering Kickoff is a popular annual robotics competition of the mind that matches the 2010 robots from FIRST Robotics with the 2011 high school teams. Nichols said the Kickoff allows teams to build skills and camaraderie before the competition season begins in January. The 2010 game is called “Breakaway” and features robots playing soccer on a 27-by-54-foot soccer field with bumpers and soccer-style goals during the game.
“This year’s game was really challenging and different from past years,” Nichols explained. “Three-team alliances attempt to earn points by collecting soccer balls and moving them around the competition field. Additional bonus points can be earned for each robot that is suspended in air on special metal poles at the end of the match. It blends all the competition of FIRST Robotics with the popularity of soccer," Nichols added.
New at the Kettering Kickoff this year is the 1st ‘Kick Hunger’ Campaign – a food drive to benefit the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan. Teams and their fans will bring book bags full of canned goods and boxed food that will be weighed. A ‘Kick Hunger’ Award will be presented to the team that provides the most food for the Food Bank. Separately, the faculty, staff and students of Kettering University are also contributing canned goods to the food drive as part of Hunger Action Month activities for September.
During the Kettering Kickoff, a variety of automobiles will be on display, including Chevrolet, Buick and GMC products from Patsy Lou Williamson Dealership in Flint, and Ford products from Lasco Ford in Fenton. Al Serra will also provide GM products for visitors to see and enjoy. And Genesee Valley Chrysler Dodge Jeep has also joined the line-up!
Teams competing on Sept. 18 at Kettering are:
Team 27, Team RUSH, Clarkston
Team 33, Killer Bees, Auburn Hills
Team 51, Wings of Fire, Pontiac
Team 66, Flyers, Ypsilanti
Team 70, More Martians, Goodrich
Team 217, ThunderChickens, Sterling Heights
Team 247, Dabears, Berkley
Team 302, Dragons, Lake Orion
Team 314, Megatron Oracles, Flint
Team 322, F.I.R.E., Flint
Team 326, Xtreme Eagles, Romulus
Team 397, Knight Riders, Flint
Team 468, Baker Explorers, Flint
Team 469, Las Guerrillas, Bloomfield Hills
Team 494, Martians, Goodrich
Team 503, Frog Force, Novi
Team 548, Robostangs, Northville
Team 703, Team Phoenix, Saginaw
Team 862, Lightning Robotics, Canton
Team 894, Powers Chargers, Flint
Team 903, Robotroopers, Detroit
Team 910, Foley Freeze, Madison Heights
Team 1189, Gearheads, Grosse Pointe
Team 1243, Dragons, Swartz Creek
Team 1322, G.R.A.Y.T. Leviathons, Fenton
Team 1506, Metal Muscle, Flint
Team 1684, Golden Eagles, Lapeer
Team 1718, The Fighting Pi, Armada
Team 1946, FG – Tamra, Tamra, Israel
Team 2137, The Oxford RoboCats, Oxford
Team 2145, HAZMATs, Lake Fenton
Team 2337, EngiNERDS, Grand Blanc
Team 2604, Metal & Soul, Capac
Team 2612, Waterford Mott Destroyers, Waterford
Team 2619, The Charge, Midland
Team 2832, The Livonia Warriors, Livonia
Team 3096, Finney Highlanders, Detroit
Team 3401, Eagletrons, Orchard Lake
Team 3415, The RAMS, Montrose
FIRST -- For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology -- is a national effort to inspire youth to explore career possibilities in engineering, science and technology. FIRST robotics pits teams in a head-to-head competition between large radio-controlled robots built by teams of high school students and sponsoring engineers and teachers. Michigan is tops among the “big states” for team participation in FIRST.
Almost one-third of Michigan high schools now have a FIRST robotics team as a varsity sport.
Each year, the Kettering Kickoff helps high school teams "kick off" the start of their competition season by using the game, rules and robots of the previous year’s national competition. “The Kettering Kickoff was founded in 2000,” Nichols explained, “to give participants who are new to the sport an opportunity to build camaraderie with their new teammates and to work on developing their skills in a competitive environment.”