[Updated 2016-04-04 10:02 with info from the ever-awesome Rob Gorbet – be sure to roll down to the comments for more info from Rob who sits on the FRC board of directors and served as an FRC judge, including the World Championships – Thx RG!]
On Saturday I headed over to The University of Waterloo PAC to catch the FIRST Robotics Canada Regional competition. My crew has been hitting this event since the Waterloo Regionals edition kicked off in
2010 2005. If you’re new here, FIRST == For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology. These are high school students working with teachers and industry mentors to build robots that compete each year in a different challenge.
As a maker myself, I see a ton of positive outcomes in this for the community and the future. We’ve got young makers designing, fabricating, programming, maintaining and driving robots which looks like a whole lot of learning opportunity. We’ve got students connecting with mentors outside of the classroom which establishes an important and inconsistently practiced mechanism for personal and professional growth. And we’re celebrating the making and competition with the same enthusiasm and infrastructure typically reserved for sports. Hands up if you didn’t play on the basketball team in high school and spent your nights and weekends building stuff in the garage. Yeah, that’s me.
I enjoy seeing the different problem-solving approaches that teams have employed. I see the range of experience in the pits. I like to get up close to see the various bits of tech used. I’m impressed with the cooperation under pressure and the camaraderie among teams. And most importantly, I’m glad my kids get to see this stuff too. Many years ago now, I was talking to my son Calder about the importance of putting his best effort into his schoolwork. I told him it was important to care. He surprised me with a big question: “That’s just it, Dad. How do I make myself care?” I’ve spent the last eight years working on that question with both my kids. Attending the FIRST Robotics competitions and talking to FRC teams where you find them is a small but concrete step in establishing motivation for learning. FRC’s Rob Gorbet adds:
“Whether you start a team, support a team, volunteer for the event, or just bring your kids and yourselves every year to watch, FIRST can change the way people think about education, for sure. I know, because I’ve seen and heard the stories of so many kids inspired by FIRST participation.
It would be awesome to add links to the FIRST Robotics Canada web page and a sentence or two on getting involved. FIRST has programs for all age ranges from grades 1-12, and Waterloo also hosts the FIRST Lego League provincial competition for grades 4-8. We’re always trying to help get new teams started in the region, and always looking for new volunteers and sponsors: www.firstroboticscanada.com”
I can echo the plug for FIRST Lego League: both my kids went through that program in elementary school and it was another great intro to making with your hands, adding more incentive to learn.
Local Team DAVE #3683 bot above, crashing through the gates of this year’s Stronghold challenge.
I’ve got more for you here, but first: self-promotion. There are no ads on makebright. There is no paywall or different levels of access. There is just the work I put out. My awesome Patreon supporters kick in small amounts of money per post with a monthly cap because they’re investing in Waterloo Region. If you dig my community-building work, please support it with your pocket change. Ok, now more story.
UW’s Physical Activities Complex, jammed to the rafters with fans.
Renaissance Robotics #4525 team out of St. Thomas hit the pits after a round of competition. And now click through for an utterly unreasonable number of pics…
Free parking on campus: already winning.
Rolled in just as elimination rounds started.
Drivers on deck. London’s Oakbotics #3739.
Counter-rotating wheels to launch game balls. Team MakeShift Robotics #4039 from The Hammer here.
It’s good to come early…
if you want a seat.
The playing field seemed to be regularly reconfigured between rounds. And quickly, too.
The Big Bang #1285 out of Mississauga making one last check.
intros by long-time FIRST roboticist Karthik Kanagasabapathy.
CyberCavs #4678 mascot warming up. Another home-town team out of Breslau.
Backs. Local team out of Breslau: CyberCavs #4678.
Out of Mississauga: The Big Bang #1285, just chillin’ ‘til go-time.
out of Kitchener’s Eastwood Collegiate Institute.
Waitin’ on deck.
Over in the pits, Renaissance was ready to…
into the ring.
The Big Bang has a nice cart for their bot.
My bot-brawlin’ pal Ravi says that teams will do just about anything to help each other stay in the competition, including giving up spare parts.
The circuits I build are very low-current compared to these bots. Check out the heavy gauge wire on those batteries.
Shouts to the A/V staff. This is the same trio I photographed when I wrote about FRC in 2012.
WARP7 #865 out of Toronto, standin’ tall.
Go! Don’t mess with Texas. All the way from Greenville TX, the Robowranglers #148. Low number == veteran team, I reckon.
Team Dave, ready to shoot.
SpartanDroids #5631 out of Guelph.
Robowrangler catapults a shot at the tower.
At the 20-second warning, Team Dave…
rushed the tower and grappled up…
for extra points.
This guy Karthik Kanagasabapathy has been MC’ing the event for a long time. Don’t know his name. I’m sure my readers will fill me in. Thx to Rob Gorbet for sharing Karthik’s name.
THEORY6 #1241 out of Mississauga.
That’s some pretty sweet laser-cut aluminum(?)
Crescent Robotics #610 out of Toronto had a clean design.
Chingrobotics #3560 from Brampton, loading out.
Allspark9 #4939 out of Brampton raised their banner.
Gotta give it up for the judges in blue golf shirts.
Waiting for the round to start with the autonomous phase, drivers for Orbit Robotics #1360.
Oakville’s Orbit Robotics #1360.
Simbotics #1114 from St. Catherines bombing over the obstacle in the background.
OP Robotics #2056 from Stoney Creek.
Gotta feed the playing field these “boulders”.
Windsor’s Knight Vision #4940 drivers looking down-range…
There’s their bot on the left.
20 second warning. Knight Vision #4940 is lined up to scale the tower, but Allspark9 #4939 was going for one more ball.
Got to the platform…
But only #4940 grappled up before the bell.
Some serious wiring. And I think I see a power window motor on the right. This all makes me want to have access to a machine shop. And a bot budget.
Go UW Eng!
Rebels on deck.
Even in the pits, ya gotta keep an eye on the competition.
Renaissance Robotics #4525 in surgery.
A mentor with a well-developed sense of humour FTW!
Excellent. Me too.
Life in the pits.
The safety glasses wrangler. In any large gig, there are hundreds of people who have to do jobs large and small. Next time you attend an event, high-five a volunteer for making it possible.
One more mascot shot.
And that’s a wrap for 2016. Congrats to all the teams: you all won. And so did we.
On Ring Road, this is Waterloo.