How did FIM grow to be so big?

There are currently more than 600 FRC teams in Michigan. How did it grow so much?


At least part of it is state funding specifically for FIRST programs.


points to the sign


If you assume every team is associated with a high school, then something around 43% of all high schools in Michigan have a team. (I’m sure there’s some community teams, so it’s not a perfect representation, but the point is, they’ve spread real wide in their state. I think they’ve done a great job. Also there’s one team there for like every 17900 people ish.

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There were actually 514 teams in FIM this year, 511 of which competed at least once: FRC Event Web : 2024 FIRST In Michigan District

I’m guessing the >600 number came from TBA, which has been wrong for a couple years now due to including some defunct teams. Filtering them out has been challenging for a couple reasons. (A fix was merged in February but apparently hasn’t taken effect here.)

Still, it’s a lot of teams.


The short answer is we view robotics as a high school sport. Been working to bring more people around to that view for over a decade. It is beginning to take root.


Another part of it is the auto industry. Even before FiM was a thing, Michigan had more teams than anybody else because it was easy to get sponsors for robotics teams with so much automotive/engineering presence locally.


Another part is FiM leadership going for the big numbers. [insert argument about team sustainability here]

Someone pulled the mean number of seasons of competition seasons by teams a while back. Idk if FiM has a meaningful difference in average team life or what the o’all distributions look like for broadly similar socioeconomic regions with hundreds of teams.


That state grant is a big reason. Teams in Michigan under the grant (public schools anyways) get around 3-4 grand in team funding and then a small coach stipend that any school taking the money has to match in order to be eligible. Other requirements include attending two district events (which is the amount we all get as part of registration). Rookies and 2nd year teams get more than veteran teams. That same grant supports Vex, Underwater Rover, FIRST, and other STEM competition teams with different funding amounts based in their league and age.


Hot damn.

Welcome back.


Really representing the name SilentStryk09


I’d like to highlight that is very much not the case any longer. The automotive companies have majorly scaled back sponsorship in the state. Our team used to be supported by all 3. Now, zero.

I work for Ford and the dollars for FRC are growing increasingly restricted.

I think the majority comes from the state grants we get year to year nowadays.


Another part of it was the original district concept. FiM started events in places that didn’t yet have a lot of teams, and more teams got started in those areas. They had a place to see what FRC was and a place to go when they made a team.


Which was at least in part because there was desperate need for an additional event in the state and yet there was no money to continue the way it had always been done.

The intent wasn’t a separate system, it was a reimagining of what was critical in events. A pilot was done at Kettering in 08 for rookies only.

Is that why there’s no info on it? I was under the impression it was more like an unofficial or something event because of the limited information.

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Simple, lots of hard work by dedicated people.


Yeah, so the long version includes elements of all that several really experienced Michigan FIRSTers have added after my terse reference to sport.

And this. Millions of hours of this.


It was like an in season off season only open to rookies.

Generally I’ve found going back pre about 2010 data gets real fuzzy in general.

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If you have the time, watch (or listen to) this Rewind episode featuring @Jim_Zondag that breaks down the birth of FiM districts


While they had a lot they were not the state with the most. In 2008 Michigan had 118 while California had 141. It wouldn’t be until 2014 when Michigan would overtake California 281 to 231