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Kettering Kickoff FIRST Robotics Features GM Gift, Great Competition

FLINT -- Kettering University President Robert McMahan got a special delivery -- a $110,000 check from the GM Foundation – during the 13th annual Kettering Kickoff FIRST Robotics competition Saturday, Sept. 22.

More than 800 people cheered as the robot handed over the $110,000 gift that will be used by Kettering University to raise awareness of Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics (STEM) and business careers and help to recruit women and minority students.

Gerald Johnson, manufacturing manager for the General Motors and Kettering University's Key Executive with GM, delivered the GM Foundation gift that will support FIRST Robotics, SAE competition teams, the AIM and LITE programs, Discover U and Kettering Awareness program.

"The ongoing commitment of the GM Foundation to Kettering University is critical support for our students and our University," McMahan said. "This investment is vitally important in helping Kettering remain a national leader in the STEM fields."

Johnson, Craig Marriott from GM Advanced Powertrain, and Bob Dziurda, from GM's Powertrain Global headquarters, met with President McMahan and a number of Kettering students and program representatives during the gift presentation. The donation will support multiple programs at the university.

Susan Davies, vice president of university advancement and external relations, said Kettering's long-term relationship with the GM Foundation is transformational for the university.

"Kettering University is making advancements in creating STEM leaders for our country's and our world's best companies," Davies said. "This gift is well-timed and needed to help us expand our goals and accomplishments."

The GM Foundation gift will be divided into two primary areas -- diversity initiatives and students organizations and job skills. The specialty programs receiving support are:

* Academically Interested Minds (AIM), a five-week residential summer program designed to help students of color make a successful transition from high school to college. Students from across the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico and the Caribbean attend freshman level courses the summer before their senior year in high school.

* Lives Improve Through Engineering (LITE), a two-week residential program created by Kettering University to introduce 11th grade girls to what engineers do and how they significantly improve people's lives by applying math, science and technology to human Discover U, a pre-college program for high school girls in grades 9-12 to help correct the under-representation of women in engineering and the sciences at the collegiate and professional levels. Discover U is a career-oriented series of hands-on workshops and enrichment activities for girls during eight day-long "discover" programs.

* Kettering Awareness Program, an effort to introduce high school guidance counselors at targeted high schools to the University, STEM degree fields, cooperative education and experiential learning opportunities. High schools are selected based on their students of color populations and the availability of cooperative employment in their region. This program will aim at 45 guidance counselors at targeted institutions across the country near automotive and manufacturing facilities.

* FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), a national effort to showcase science and engineering as fun, especially to elementary, middle school and high school students. FIRST Robotics is focused on high school students in grades 9-12. Kettering hosts three FIRST Robotics events each year, including a district competition that helps teams qualify for national competition. Kettering also sponsors a local team, Metal Muscle, made up of high school students from around Genesee County. Around 16 percent of this year's entering freshmen are alumni of FIRST Robotics, placing Kettering among the highest concentration of colleges in the U.S.

* Kettering's SAE Collegiate Design Competition teams including: Formula, Mini Baja and Clean Snowmobile. SAE teams go beyond textbook theory to design, build and test the performance of a real vehicle and compete in regional, national and international competitions.

As for the competition itself, FIRST Robotics teams from Grand Blanc, Ortonville and Sterling Heights shared top honors at the 13th annual Kettering Kickoff.

The Enginerds, Team 2337 of Grand Blanc, Truck Town Thunder, Team 68 from Ortonville, and Foley Freeze, Team 910 of Sterling Heights, were awarded the No. 1 Top Dog honors after winning the day-long FIRST Robotics competition.

About 800 visitors attended the FIRST contest that attracted 42 Michigan high school robotics teams. This year's contest, called Rebound Rumble, featured an action-packed game of basketball played by hand-built robots. Rebound Rumble included four basketball hoops and a series of bridges that the robots have to traverse.

The Big Dog Award, second-place in the tournament, was shared by: Team 226, the Hammerheads of Troy Team 302, the Dragons of Lake Orion Team 1684, the Chimeras of Lapeer.

Other top awards at the Kettering Kickoff went to:
* The Robot Design Excellence Award – Team 51, Wings of Fire from Pontiac
* The Safety Award - Team 4044, Screamin' Eagles of Capac
* The #1 Seed Award - Team 51, Wings of Fire from Pontiac
* Top Score of the Day - an alliance of Team 2619, the Charge of Midland, Team 3322, Egal Imperium of Ann Arbor, and Team 70, More Martians of Goodrich
* The Spirit of FIRST Award – Team 3770, Blitzcreek of Midland Mentors
* Match Award - Team 68, Truck Town Thunder of Ortonville, Team 1243, the Dragons of Swartz Creek, and Team 2604, Metal and Soul, Capac

FIRST, For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology, is a national effort to inspire youth to explore career possibilities in engineering, science and technology. FIRST robotics pits teams in a head-to-head competition between large radio-controlled robots built by teams of high school students and sponsoring engineers and teachers.

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