How does DTE see its support in action? With FIRST Robotics, there’s a multiplier effect.
Leon Pryor, coach for FTC team TechnoPhoenix, attended competitions around the metro area and noticed that many of the suburban teams knew each other and helped each other out. Detroit teams didn’t have that connection. So he and Ann McGowan, Coach for FRC (high school) team Kinematic Wolves, as well as Team #503 Frog Force, formed the Motor City Alliance as a way for coaches and teams within Detroit to collaborate, share knowledge, and help each other to succeed.
Teams involved with the Motor City Alliance meet periodically to strategize and problem-solve. Teams can get help diagnosing problems with their robots, strategizing for the game, and solve programming issues. Beyond technical skills, they have grown bonds and friendships as a result of the alliance. Leon and Ann have also seen high school teams help fellow competitors, as well as lend a hand to middle school teams. Middle School teams have excelled with the extra resources available from the Motor City Alliance.
As a result of their enhanced ability to collaborate, teams are excelling. This past December, seven Detroit FTC teams qualified for State; in the past, no more than 3 had qualified. Five of those teams were part of the Motor City Alliance, in addition to the founding team TechnoPhoenix. And the Kinematic Wolves won the prestigious Chairman’s Award through FIRST in Michigan. The Chairman’s Award was created to keep the central focus of FIRST Robotics Competition on the ultimate goal of transforming the culture in ways that will inspire greater levels of respect and honor for science and technology, as well as encouraging more of today’s youth to become science and technology leaders.
The Kinematic Wolves are the first team from Detroit to win the award.
DTE supports FIRST not only for its advancement of STEM education, but also because of the teamwork and problem-solving skills young people learn through robotics. This year, the DTE Foundation is sponsoring 24 FTC (middle school) teams and 26 FRC (high school) teams; including both TechnoPhoenix and the Kinematic Wolves.