Being the best in the nation is hard work for a young robotics team, but it sure has its perks. For two teens from Yorkton, the perks include two trips across the world.
Representing the province at the National Skills Competition in Robotics over a month ago brought a hard-fought win to competitors Jayden Leister, Taylor Pachal, Bo Chiasson, and Rachael Machnee.
Two of the students, Pachal and Chiasson, will go on to represent Canada at the World Skills Competition in Leipzig, Germany from July 2-7, 2013.
All participants will use a special robot called Robotino, which was shipped from Germany over a month ago. It was already assembled, so the task for this half of the year will be to learn how to program its behavior through software.
Over the next year they will gain skills at competitions that include Montreal and England or Brazil in preparation for the Worlds.
The students wasted no time in learning the ins and outs of their new robot, starting training as soon as school was out. So far their schedule runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays, “or earlier if we have to,” said Chiasson.
“The main part of it is just programming the robot, but another aspect of the competition will be building an arm and placing it on and controlling that too,” said Chiasson.
Communication between the German organizers, Skills Canada contacts, and the Yorkton team revolves around Skype conferences.
Skills Canada provides some of the funds for materials for the robot arm, as well as the travel costs for Chiasson and Pachal’s trip to Germany. Good Spirit School Division kicked in funds for coach Kevin Chiasson’s travel expenses, the robot arm which will cost almost $2000, and for two laptops, which are used to control the robots.
The team is currently fundraising to bring the two other team members, Machnee and Leister, as ‘official observers’ of the competition.
Germany will pose new challenges to the students. First of all, they will not know what the actual challenge in Germany is until January. Until then, the goal is to “learn the robot as best we can,” said Pachal.
Age and experience will be on the side of the competition. Bo Chiasson, 15 years old, and Pachal, 18, will be competing against mostly university teams, noted coach Kevin Chiasson.
For the time being, the team is most commonly found tucked away in their lab at YRHS. They are foregoing a summer of sun for incandescent lights reflecting off of their Robotino: a robot that may just be their ticket to international fame.
For information on how to sponsor the team, contact Kevin Chisasson at (306)-786-5560.