• In this March 27, 2015 photo, Detroit International Academy for Young Women students Tunzzina Chowdhury, left, and Papia Aziz listen to Dennis Cabay, right, a team mentor, talks about their robot during the For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology, FIRST, Robotics district competition in Livonia, Mich. Michigan has more high school teams competing in the annual contest than any other state. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

    In this March 27, 2015 photo, Detroit International Academy for Young Women students Tunzzina Chowdhury, left, and Papia Aziz listen to Dennis Cabay, right, a team mentor, talks about their robot during the For Inspiration and Recognition of Science ... and Technology, FIRST, Robotics district competition in Livonia, Mich. Michigan has more high school teams competing in the annual contest than any other state. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya) (The Associated Press)

  • In this March 27, 2015 photo, Detroit International Academy for Young Women student, Tunzzina Chowdhury works on the Pink Panthers robot at the For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology, FIRST, Robotics district competition in Livonia, Mich. Michigan has more high school teams competing in the annual contest than any other state. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

    In this March 27, 2015 photo, Detroit International Academy for Young Women student, Tunzzina Chowdhury works on the Pink Panthers robot at the For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology, FIRST, Robotics district competition in Livonia,... Mich. Michigan has more high school teams competing in the annual contest than any other state. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya) (The Associated Press)

  • In this March 27, 2015 photo, Detroit International Academy for Young Women students Papia Aziz, left, and Nazifa Chowdhury compete while team mentor Dennis Cabay, second from left, looks on during the For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology, FIRST, Robotics district competition in Livonia, Mich. Michigan has more high school teams competing in the annual contest than any other state. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

    In this March 27, 2015 photo, Detroit International Academy for Young Women students Papia Aziz, left, and Nazifa Chowdhury compete while team mentor Dennis Cabay, second from left, looks on during the For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and ... Technology, FIRST, Robotics district competition in Livonia, Mich. Michigan has more high school teams competing in the annual contest than any other state. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya) (The Associated Press)

Students from urban Michigan districts able to join robotics teams thanks to college tie-ins

Features Associated Press

An increasing number of students from Michigan's most financially strapped urban school districts are joining robotics teams.

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That's because local universities are making space and materials available at no charge.

The University of Michigan started the trend with its Michigan Engineering Zone. The 5,200-square-foot facility in Detroit hosts 18 teams from city schools, many of which wouldn't be able to participate in the annual FIRST contest otherwise.

One of those squads comes from the Detroit International Academy for Young Women.

Junior Papia Aziz (puh-PEE'-uh uh-ZEEZ') captains the team known as the Pink Panthers.

The 16-year-old wants to be a pediatrician and credits the Michigan Engineering Zone with furthering her interest in STEM subjects: science, technology, engineering and math.

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Aziz says the space "is the greatest thing I've ever been to."