Joel Coddington knew qualifying for the FIRST Championship in Detroit would be a memorable experience. What he didn’t quite anticipate was that competing wouldn’t even be his favorite part.

“It was a lot of fun, a lot of competition, but the best part was getting to see teams and people from all over the world,” Coddington said.

Coddington is a member of the Brighton Gems, who were one of more than 100 FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) teams from Michigan to qualify for Worlds.

Michigan, widely regarded as a leader of FIRST Robotics, has more than 500 teams and the dedicated support of leaders in the STEM field including DTE Energy, Consumers Energy, GM, Ford and more.

Michigan teams used that support to flex their robotics muscles and dominate the FIRST Championship competitions at Cobo Center and Ford Field.

Six of the final eight teams were from Michigan with two Michigan teams, StrykeForce from Kalamazoo and Team RUSH from Clarkston, on the winning alliance.

Members of the Petoskey Paladins watch their robot perform its autonomous routine at the FIRST Championship at Cobo Center in Detroit, MI.

Students showed pride in being from Michigan and were aware of the dominance their teams brought.

“Worlds was a lot of fun,” said Andrew McNamara, member of the Petoskey Paladins. “There were 100 (FRC) teams from Michigan, which was kind of neat being like ‘oh we have 100 teams here, there are only 400 (FRC teams) here’, basically we have one fourth of the competition.”

The high-level of competition is what drives teams to qualify for Worlds, but like Coddington, the opportunity to meet visitors and compete with students from all over the world is another highlight.

More than 40,000 people visited Detroit, breaking the attendance record for the event. This was the first-year of at least three years the FIRST Championship will be held in the city.

Walking through downtown, it was clear that the city was captivated by robot excitement. From the packed Cobo Center, electric opening and closing ceremonies at Ford Field, to the many Detroit parks and public spaces that were activated to celebrate the event.

That buzz spread throughout DTE Energy too.

DTE provided 185 volunteers to the FIRST Championship at Cobo Center and sponsored more than 300 student ambassadors. This was just a fraction of DTE’s commitment throughout the season.

The DTE Energy Foundation sponsored 36 robotics teams in the high school and middle school levels, was the title sponsor of the FIRST in Michigan State Championship at Saginaw Valley State University and key sponsor at multiple district qualifying events.

“FIRST in Michigan does not have another partner who works so closely with us to meet the mission of FIRST while simultaneously accomplishing your foundation and company goals,” said Gail Alpert, President, FIRST of Michigan.

DTE employees have been involved with FIRST for more than a decade, volunteering more and more each season.  

“Our employees understand the passion behind FIRST and just how great an organization it is,” said Tracy DiSanto, Manager – Workforce Planning & Analytics, Human Resources. “From our newly formed ‘Community FIRST’ group, to the creation of an outstanding ‘Detroit Experience’ at World competitions and the amazing support provided throughout the entire season to our DTE Foundation sponsored teams, we’re extremely proud of what we were able to accomplish.”

With Detroit guaranteed to host the FIRST Championship for two more years, DTE plans to continue to expand its support.

“Our commitment to FIRST Robotics continues to grow,” DiSanto said. “We’re already looking forward to next year.”