FIRST Robotics Competition
A few months ago, a group of students from Assumption high school competed in the annual FIRST Robotics Competition held in Toronto. According to its website, www.firstroboticscanada.org, FIRST Robotics is a competition where “high school students team up with the world’s best technology companies to build the most impressive robots you’ve ever seen.” It goes on to say:
Built from scratch in only 6 weeks, these 5-foot tall, 140-pound robots compete in high intensity robo-sports. With bragging rights at stake for schools and the companies that support them, robotics takes on a pro-sports experience. Watch the best of the best in robotics come out to play.
The varsity sport for the mind, FRC combines the excitement of sport with the rigors of science and technology. Under strict rules, limited resources, and time limits, teams of 25 students or more are challenged to raise funds, design a team “brand,” hone teamwork skills, and build and program robots to perform prescribed tasks against a field of competitors. It’s as close to “real-world engineering” as a student can get. Volunteer professional mentors lend their time and talents to guide each team.
Students get to:
· Learn from professional engineers
· Build and compete with a robot of their own design
· Learn and use sophisticated software and hardware
· Compete and cooperate in alliances and tournaments
· Earn a place in the World Championship
· Qualify for over $12 million in college scholarships
There were 44 teams who competed in the competition this year from all throughout Ontario, Canada and a few teams from places all over the world. This is the first year Assumption entered a team into the competition.
This year, the teams had to develop robots that had the capacity to throw frisbees in a basket, climb pyramid structures and block and cause “havoc” to prevent the foregoing, all in an attempt to gain points for each basket made, pyramid climbed and shot blocked. The purpose of the robot that Assumption created was to cause havoc and block shots from other robots. In other words, its main function was to play defence.
The competition started with 44 teams and then went down to 24, then 12 and finally 6. Assumption made it to the final 6 where they were teamed up with two other teams, competing against the remaining three.
As a result of the strong showing from Assumption, they qualified to compete in the World Competition held in St. Louis, Missouri, at the end of April.
Enactus Windsor Entrepreneurship Competition
I recently judged an entrepreneurship competition where high school students from across the region developed micro businesses and competed against each other. Groups of students worked together in identifying a product or service, developed a marketing plan and financial statement, and finally implemented their idea into the marketplace.
Each presenting team was judged by the innovation of their product, their financial performances, their presentation skills and ability to answer tough questions from the judges, along with their marketing and advertising capabilities.
Among all of the competitors – and there were many good ones – Assumption high school came up victorious. With a dynamic presentation and solid business idea (selling delicious cakes in a jar), they wooed the audience and clearly impressed the judges.
On a personal note, it was pleasing to hear some students say that all of their lives they are taught to grow up to be lawyers or doctors, or good employees, but after this experience, many are considering entrepreneurship. The idea of being your own boss and actually creating jobs is appealing to many.
I often worry about our region’s economic future, but after judging yesterday’s competition, and getting to meet these smart, dynamic and energetic youth, I am confident that our future is in very good hands.