The 2019 FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) season launched on Saturday, Jan. 5. Teams from around the world gathered and watched online the unveiling of this year’s game, Destination: Deep Space, and immediately went to work brainstorming ideas for their robot.

“The game has so many new and interesting aspects to it, I’m eager to see how other teams’ bots are coming together,” said Alexis Plascencia, senior at Cristo Rey High School in Southwest Detroit and co-captain of the team. “I’m even more excited to build our robot. This year should be better than ever for the Kinematic Wolves!”

Teams now have six weeks to build the first iteration of their robot until bag day on Feb. 19. During this time, teams build comradery, define team roles, think through strategies and physically build their robot.

“Entering our fifth FIRST Robotics season is thrilling. Watching our 30+ member team learn, grow and engage with their mentors has truly taken our team to the next level,” said Ann McGowan, coach, Kinematic Wolves. “Having a partner like DTE has truly given our team the opportunity to compete at the state and national levels. We can’t wait for what this year will bring.”

This season, DTE is sponsoring 24 FRC teams throughout Michigan with a combination of financial, mentorship and volunteer support. DTE places an emphasis on sponsoring teams with barriers to make sure they have access to as many opportunities as possible.

“The commitment and excitement around FIRST Robotics within our company continues to grow,” said Tracy DiSanto, manager of Workforce Development at DTE. “From executive leadership to our employee-run Community FIRST group, which provides support and mentorship to students involved with FIRST, we all recognize the skills and lessons students obtain through this program and we want to continue to bolster these types of learning environments.”

This year’s game takes students on an adventure to planet Primus, where they need to work as an alliance with two other teams to load valuable cargo for transport and return safely to their side before the time runs out. The alliance that loads the most cargo and earns the most points, wins the match.

The competitions start the first weekend in March, leading to the State Championship in Saginaw April 10-13 and continue until the World Championship in Detroit on April 24-27. This is the second year that Detroit has hosted the event, which brings more than 40,000 visitors from across the globe.

“Our goal is to build a robot that can compete at the World Championship. Knowing it’s the best of the best robots, no matter the outcome, is a win to our team,” said Plascencia.