SOUTHFIELD — Denso, the auto supplier with its North American headquarters in Southfield, announced a 2017 commitment to FIRST Robotics, to which it has donated more than $800,000 since 2002.
Detroit will host the FIRST Robotics Championship at Cobo Center and Ford Field in April 2018, 2019 and 2020.
Denso is a Silver Level Supplier Sponsor of FIRST, and teamed up with its affiliate, ASMO North Carolina, to donate 22,000 window motors to student team build kits for the for 2016-2018 competition seasons.
Students are challenged to use the window motor and other parts to build a robot that completes the challenge they’re given. Denso’s motor can be used to spin wheels, or move other parts of the robot.
“Every FIRST Robotics team around the world will have a Denso motor available to use on their champion robot,” said Doug Patton, executive vice president of engineering at Denso. “Denso donates its technology to help students get ‘real-world’ hands-on experience. We want to engage students and get them excited about careers in engineering and technology.”
In 2017, DENSO is also sponsoring 25 teams throughout North America – 12 high school and 2 middle school teams in Southeast Michigan, six teams in Battle Creek, two teams in Maryville, Tenn., two teams in Cedar Falls and Waterloo, Iowa, and one team in Dublin, Ohio.
Denso also sponsors the FIRST Robotics Southfield (Michigan), Lakeview (Michigan), Smoky Mountain (Tennessee) and Iowa regional competitions since they are held in the communities where Denso is located.
FIRST Robotics has been compared to a varsity sport with hands-on training in science and technology to help students discover how rewarding a career in engineering or technology can be. STEM and mentoring programs like FIRST also give Denso employees a chance to give back.
“One of the best things I get out of participating is watching when the kids understand and the lightbulb goes on,” said Gary Held, Denso senior design engineer and FIRST Robotics mentor. “It’s a great opportunity to open kids up to hands-on learning about science, technology, engineering and math – some things that you might not get from regular classes.”
FIRST, an acronym for For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology, was founded in 1989 to inspire young people’s interest and participation in science and technology. Based in Manchester, N.H., the 501(c)(3) not-for-profit public charity designs accessible, innovative programs that motivate young people to pursue education and career opportunities in science, technology, engineering, and math, while building self-confidence, knowledge, and life skills. High-school-aged teams compete head-to-head on a special playing field with robots they have designed, built, and programmed.
Under strict rules, limited resources, and the guidance of volunteer mentors including engineers, teachers, business professionals, parents, alumni and more, teams of 25 or more students have just six weeks to build and program robots to perform challenging tasks against a field of competitors. They must also raise funds, design a team “brand,” hone teamwork skills, and perform community outreach. In addition to learning valuable STEM and life skills, participants are eligible to apply for $25+ million in college scholarships.
Denso builds advanced technology, systems and components in the areas of thermal, powertrain control, electronics and information and safety. It employs more than 23,000 people at 30 companies and affiliates in North America. In the United States, Denso employs more than 15,000 people in Alabama, Arkansas, California, Iowa, Georgia, Kentucky, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas. Denso’s North American consolidated sales totaled $9.9 billion for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2016. For more information, go to www.densocorp-na.com. Worldwide, Denso sales for that period were $40.2 billion.