More than 40,000 expected at FIRST Robotics Detroit

DETROIT — More than 15,000 students in grades K-12, from 25 states and 45 countries, are headed to Detroit this week with their custom-built robots, to compete in the annual FIRST Championship.

The annual FIRST Championship, presented by Qualcomm Inc., is the culmination for student teams who participated in regional robotics competitions held around the world.

According to Larry Alexander, president and CEO of the Detroit Metro Convention and Visitors Bureau, 2018 marks the first of a three-year commitment that FIRST made to hold the competition in Detroit.

“When you add friends, parents, mentors, coaches and sponsors, more than 40,000 visitors will be in Detroit over the next several days who will generate an estimated $30 million in direct spending to the Detroit area economy,” he said.

The FIRST Championship was booked in 2015 by the bureau and lengthy preparations to host the group have been under way for two years, with the mission of creating an outstanding hospitality experience for the students, their families and other visitors.

Examples of the welcome include customized messaging wrapped on the Detroit People Mover; more than 100 volunteers at Detroit Metro Airport and on the streets of downtown Detroit, welcoming and providing way finding services; welcome desks at downtown hotels and welcome banners and information at all 50 regional hotels; digital welcome signage and banners at the airport; a restaurant and retail program where FIRST visitors receive discounts at over 40 downtown establishments; all front line hotel staff will be wearing welcome buttons; and welcome messages on downtown street pole banners and at all hotels.

FIRST events will take place April 25-28 at Cobo Center and Ford Field and are open to the public. For a complete schedule, go to

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