Local team targets Robotics competition

BY SIMMONS, GARRETT ON FEBRUARY 23, 2015.

LETHBRIDGE HERALD

Twenty-two students, along with five teacher mentors from Chinook High School and eight technical mentors from Pratt & Whitney Canada, have come together to create the first robotics team in southern Alberta.

Their goal? To compete in the Regional FIRST Robotics Competition on April 2.

FIRST Robotics Competition is described as a unique varsity activity, designed to help high school-aged students discover how interesting and rewarding the lives of engineers and scientists can be.

“I appreciate the ability to take part in events and activities not readily available everywhere else,” said Grade 12 student and team member James Randle in a release. “I believe this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity providing insight into future careers and possibilities.”

Participants compete in short games that are played by teams of robots, all programmed and remotely controlled by students. The competition stretches students’ creativity and ability to think on their feet.

Teams have six weeks to build a robot from start to finish, with no prior knowledge of what the game will entail. Prior to building the robot, students and mentors create sub-teams, study prior games, seek sponsorship, build community involvement, and research potential materials.

“I’m able to learn all of the different parts of robots and how they function,” said Oliver Campbell, a Grade 12 student at Chinook. “It’s something not everyone can learn. I’m increasing my knowledge every day. I think I might start making robots in my spare time and start using robotic applications within my life.”

Chinook would not be able to create such a program without the support and financial sponsorship of Pratt & Whitney Canada.

“The FIRST Robotics Competition is a great way to inspire young people to study sciences, most particularly technology and engineering, and to pursue careers in these fields. We are very excited to launch this program in southern Alberta,” said Olivier Lefebvre, general manager of the Pratt & Whitney Canada plant in Lethbridge.

“It’s a great way for our employees to share their experience with students. As mentors, they must support them throughout the process of building and programming the robot and in creating marketing tools for the team.”

Along with the support from Pratt & Whitney Canada, Chinook was also selected as a recipient of the 2015 FRC Rookie Grant, a subsidy provided to assist new teams in covering initial costs and competition fees.

Team YoteBot, referring to Chinook’s mascot, the Coyote, will make its debut at the Regional FRC in Calgary on April 2. Until then, students and mentors are discussing strategy and working through the build-season.

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