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Filling the STEM gap in Michigan

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FIRST in Michigan

FIRST State Organization

FIRST in Michigan runs one of the oldest and largest robotics organizations in the United States, building on a historic collaboration between FIRST, the State of Michigan, the auto industry, the Michigan school systems, and the students and volunteers who make it thrive.

Michigan and STEM

The auto industry drives STEM job growth in Michigan, and engineers are in high demand. In fact, about 45 percent of all Michigan STEM jobs are in engineering. STEM jobs are expected to grow at an annual rate of 5 percent per year from 2014 to 2024, according to the Georgetown Center on Education and the Workplace. Robotics technologies like shop floor automation and self-driving cars are helping drive that growth. Alumni of FIRST programs who go on to college and major in STEM disciplines are well equipped for this vibrant, technologically driven job market.

FIRST® in Michigan

FIRST programs came to Michigan in 1993 after FIRST founder Dean Kamen brought the idea to his longtime friend François J. Castaing, then at Chrysler. Castaing pitched FIRST to the Big Three automakers – Chrysler, Ford, and General Motors. They immediately recognized the value of introducing Michigan kids to STEM and engineering at a young age. In 2008, the program was reorganized, customizing its approach to include more frequent local competitions and greater representation among Michigan schools. Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, a vocal supporter of FIRST, has invested millions in grant funding for school districts to establish FIRST teams, making FIRST the flagship STEM after-school program in Michigan.

Growth and opportunity

FIRST in Michigan reaches more than 28,000 K-12 students and mentors on 1,700 teams. FIRST teams are in roughly 60 percent of the state’s high schools. Additionally, the state is home to several community centers with robust FIRST programs, such as the FIRST Robotics Community Center, which opened in 2014 at Kettering University in Flint, Michigan.

“We have noticed that students who come from FIRST not only have the necessary skills and passion for engineering, but also exhibit the types of behaviors we look for at GM, like problem solving and collaboration.” — Ken Morris, Vice President of Global, Product Integrity, General Motors

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