A community-based team made up of Greater Victoria high school students has been invited to represent Canada at the Asia Pacific Open Championship in Sydney, Australia in July. FIX IT competes against other teams in the FIRST Tech Challenge in British Columbia. FIRST is a global organization meant for inspiring youth to get involved in STEM.
After FIX IT won this year’s provincial competition they were invited to an international competition. FIX IT had previously won the 2017 world championships in Houston, but now with a brand new team the world championship could be a surprising challenge.
At the start of every robotics season in September, a game is released globally to every robotics team. Teams start developing their robot to compete in the game. The young engineers take mobility, size, speed, and the challenge into consideration when coming up with unique designs to win the game. There are many different ways teams can win to advance through competitions. Games won throughout the competitions will move teams up through the ranks, while awards can also rack up team’s points. The top award a team can win is the inspire award, given to teams that are a good ambassador for FIRST, qualify for other awards and have a big community outreach.
The game released this year involves stacking different coloured cones in certain patterns to earn points. A team’s robot must be able to move through the playing field and grab the cones to layer them on top of each other. During competitions, teams are paired with another randomly selected team to take on two other teams in the game. This portion of the game develops players’ communication skills as the two teams must successfully be able to work together to win the game.
Because FIX IT is a community-based team with no school community to support them, they have been practising at the Makerspace Lab at Camosun College’s Interurban campus. The team usually meets every week for four hours, but before competitions they meet daily.
Each FIX IT team member has a certain role. Amren Kareer attends school at Stelly’s Secondary School and is the team’s field coach and media manager. As field coach, he directs the drivers of the robot where to go on the playing field based on the team’s strategy, the team’s alliance partners, and to figure out what the opposition team is doing. He has grown to love robotics because he says, “we incorporate this aspect called gracious professionalism which is kind of like ‘coop-petition’ which is like cooperation and competition. Your opponents aren’t your enemy.”
Bryce Kong is the lead designer and programmer of the team. He’s responsible for designing the robot, programming the code and implementing how the robot is controlled.
“We’ll make a table and see what scores the most points and the least amount of points. From there we can decide what our robot will look like,” said Kong in explaining the engineering process.
The two types of robots teams choose to have is either a robot that stays in one position to stack the cones, or a robot that is mobile and can move around to stack cones. Kong and his team picked the mobile option because it works best with their gameplay. A special feature the robot was designed with is canon wheels which allow the robot to move side to side fast without turning directions.
Max Gregg who attends Esquimalt High School is the main driver of the robot. Not only does Gregg operate the machine but he tinkers with the robot as the main builder. Garrett Waddell, who also attends Esquimalt High, is a new addition to the team and was recruited to help the team if they need any repairs to the robot.
The team is looking for more members for next year’s season and hopes to bring diversity with more female members. FIX IT encourages anyone to join even if they are new to robotics. The only female member on their team at this point is their robot named Leia after the Star Wars princess. The team is excited to arrive at the international competition in their iconic neon fedora and tie attire and hopes to bring home another world championship.
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