High School Students Impress At Local Robotics Competition

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VEX Robotics Competition
NSD Voyageurs and Ares face off against iSmak and Lone Wolf Robotics in the finals.

On Saturday, December 14th, high school robotics teams from Wawa to Sudbury gathered at Sault College for the 7th Annual Northern Ontario VRC Qualifier event. Thirteen teams, along with their robots, competed in the 2019-2020 VEX Robotics Competition game, Tower Takeover. Students were challenged to design, build and program a robot that could collect and stack 5-inch cubes in goal zones, and lift them into towers placed around the field.

Over the last several months teams iterated through a process of design-build-test to create a competition ready robot. Colin Kirkwood, one of the competition judges said, “What impressed me the most was the ability of the students to solve design challenges within the context of limited time and resources. It was very interesting to hear the students speak about the challenges they faced and their determination to overcome them.  Designing, building and programming a robot that functions in a competition is not a trivial task and all the teams deserve to be commended for their efforts.”

The competition involved several components, a tournament, a robot skills challenge and a judged portion.

In the tournament, teams competed 2-on-2, in a round robin, where they were randomly paired with different teams. After a series consisting of 26 matches, iSmak (11269A/independent) came out on top, followed by Ares (57579A/Korah CVS) and Lone Wolf Robotics (114T/independent). At the conclusion of the round robin, teams drafted an alliance partner for the elimination playoff. That playoffs continued the 2-on-2 format and ended with the alliance of iSmak and Lone Wolf Robotics defeating the alliance of Ares and NDS Voyageurs (84294A/Notre Dame du Sault) to become Tournament Champions.

In the Robot Skills Challenge, teams took to the field in solo efforts to showing off their robot driving skills and their ability to program an autonomous routine. iSmak had a standout performance, taking Robot Skills Championship by scoring a combined 55 points in driving and programming. This currently puts them at 25th in the world middle school rankings.

The judged portion of the event saw a range of professionals with engineering and technology backgrounds watch the competition, interview teams and read over engineering notebooks. The judges selected several teams for the following awards:

– iSmak received the Amaze Award, focused on a well-rounded and top performing robot.

– Lone Wolf Robotics received the Build Award, focused on a well-crafted robot.

– NDS Voyageurs received the Create Award, focused on creative engineering solutions.

– iSmak received the Design Award, focused on an effective and efficient design process.

– Lockerby Robotics (12319V/Lockerby Composite School, Sudbury) received the Judges Award, focused on special recognition from the judges.

The final and most prestigious award of the event, the Excellence Award, went to Lone Wolf Robotics, for their high level of performance in all aspects of the competition.

“It is without a doubt the skills developed as part of the VEX Robotics program will further assist in the development of the students’ skills not only in their studies, but in the workplace. These scenarios are a true reflection of the Robotics and Engineering industry and it is quite exciting to see such an outstanding group of students once again this year,” said Marc Pilon a judge at the competition.

iSmak, Lone Wolf Robotics, Areas and NDS Voyageurs all received invitations to the Ontario VRC Provincial Championships, taking place in St Catharines on February 29, where they will vie for a spot at the VEX World Championships.

The next robotics event is the VEX IQ Challenge taking place on January 11 at Sault College.

This event is graciously supported by Tenaris AlgomaTubes, the Algoma District School Board, the Professional Engineers Ontario – Algoma Chapter, and the Ontario Association of Certified Engineering Technicians and Technologists – Algoma Chapter.

As well, volunteers from Sault College, ADSB, and professionals from the local engineering and technology communities, have provided countless hours of their time to ensure this amazing event can happen.