Over the past 2 months I’ve spent most of my after work hours at a large warehouse space in Southwest Detroit. The Detroit Hispanic Development Center is home to Detroit’s FIRST Robotics Build site, where high school students from all over the city spend 6 weeks designing a robot to compete in the varsity sport of the mind! FIRST aims to expose students to STEM careers through hands on learning alongside professional engineering mentors.

The team that I mentor, the Mercy Midnight Storm, is an all girl’s team founded out of the Mercy Education Project. Last year the team won Michigan’s Rookie All Star Award, which earned them a spot at the global competition in St. Louis. This year the girls came into the season ready to design a robot that could compete with teams at Michigan’s tough regional events. Long hours in the shop paid off last weekend at our first competition at Centerline High School. The team advanced all the way to the final match and earned a spot at the state competition in Grand Rapids this spring.

Detroit’s history as a manufacturing powerhouse has led to a highly competitive landscape of over 400 FIRST teams. Governor Snyder recently announced that the 2018 FIRST global championship will take place in Detroit in 2018. Many of the mentors on our team are engineers from my host company, General Motors. We aim develop the next generation of engineering leaders in Detroit. As Detroit starts to gain attention in the media as a technology hub, we hope to encourage Detroit’s youth to pursue careers in science and technology.