Epic battle of robots coming to Georgian March 25 and 26
January 24, 2017

Robots in competition at a 2016 FIRST Robotics event, with the crowd looking on

Some robots in action at a 2016 FIRST Robotics event

Georgian will host Barrie’s largest-ever robotics competition on March 25 and 26 at the Barrie Campus Athletic Centre. The FIRST Robotics Competition will pit 35 robots, built and programmed by teams of Ontario high school students, against one another in an epic battle that combines sport, science, and teamwork.

FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), an international organization, recently announced the theme, parameters and goals for the 2017 robotics season. The game is called FIRST STEAMWORKS. Students have only 45 days to develop custom, 120-pound robots that collect fuel, install gears, and climb structures.

“Georgian is proud – and excited – to host its first, of what we hope to be many, robotics events,” says MaryLynn West-Moynes, President and CEO of Georgian College. “Innovation is key to sustainability, building a healthy economy and tackling societal challenges. This competition will demonstrate that our future is in the very capable hands of the next generation of talented scientists, engineers and technologists.”

Students work together in teams to design, prototype, build, program and test their machines using a wide variety of skills like CNC machining, CAD, math, programming and welding. Teams also develop business and marketing plans, as well as outreach initiatives including fundraising and community engagement. Two teams from Simcoe County will participate in the Georgian event.

A team at a FIRST Robotics event last year, mid-competition - standing behind the plexiglass around the ring

A 2016 FIRST Robotics team, mid-battle

During the competition at Georgian, the team whose robot gains the most points according to game rules will be recognized in an awards ceremony on March 26. Teams are also judged on teamwork, engineering excellence, and entrepreneurial spirit.

“Fun while competing is an important learning tool,” explains Mark Gatenby, Georgian faculty member and volunteer co-ordinator for FIRST Robotics. “When you can offer students the opportunity to develop skills and knowledge for the future while having a blast, you know you’ve got a winning combination.”

Georgian’s event is one of nine competitions to take place across Ontario this year. The award-winning teams will move on to provincial championships in April at the Hershey Centre in Mississauga to fight for a spot at the FRC World Championship in St. Louis, Missouri.

While at Georgian, teams will be invited to explore the Barrie Campus’ state-of-the-art robotics, electrical and computer labs. They will also make good use of campus food services and machine shops, where the robots will undergo any pre- and post-battle repairs.

FIRST Robotics Canada is thrilled to partner with Georgian College to stage the largest robotics competition to date in Barrie,” says Mark Breadner, Executive Director of FIRST Robotics Canada. “This year’s robotics game will not disappoint, and the students’ talents, skills, and creativity will amaze the community.”

More than 1,000 people – students, competitors, coaches, industry leaders, and supporters – will be at the Barrie Campus to participate in and watch the robots and young inventors in action. Approximately 100 volunteers will be needed to ensure the competition runs smoothly. Volunteers are needed March 24 to 26. Anyone interested in volunteering can visit firstroboticscanada.org/main/volunteer.