Jabberwocky – the name hails from Lewis Carroll’s popular Through the Looking Glass poem about a kid who slays a dragon, and its meaning is not lost on a brand new team of FIRST Robotics competitors based in Springwater Township.
Calling themselves the JavaWockies, this young but mighty team of high school robot enthusiasts have been meeting regularly since September. Working at KTR Machining, they started by building a robot that could move, and then as their confidence grew, working on a robot that could compete in the upcoming FIRST Steamworks game at Georgian College in Barrie, March 25 and 26. They now have support from several local businesses.
“This project has taught our team a lot, from communication skills and teamwork to many engineering and robotics skills,” says Katie-Ann Reevie, an adult team mentor. “Some people think we just do computer stuff, but we had the opportunity to safely use the manual and CNC milling machine, vertical and horizontal band saws, manual lathe, circular saws, soldering irons to name just a few.”
This rookie team (#6336) will battle 34 other teams of high school students at Georgian’s inaugural competition at the Barrie Campus.
One of these teams will be the seasoned Cybergnomes (#2013). The gnomes hail from Stayner and are based at J.T.’s Snowmobile Repair Shop. They’re a relatively small team, but now have five years of hard-hitting competition under the respective belts of their current and past members, along with a strong brand, and more than 50 business partners.
We have consistently performed as well as teams from schools and communities more than twice our size, winning many awards,” explains Donna Lawson, one of the adults supporting the team. In 2016, they won the Western Canada Regional, the West Michigan Robotics Invitational, the Quality Award, the Innovation in Control Award, and the Excellence in Engineering Award. They were also semi-finalists on their field at the World Championships.
This year, the Cybergnomes aim to build an ultra-cool robot they hope will lead them to victory in one or more of the competitions they have this year in Barrie, Oshawa and North Bay.
“Our long-term goals are to recruit more members to keep this incredible program running,” says Lawson. “We are definitely hoping that the Barrie event will help to create more interest in our team, as well as the creation of more teams in the area.”
Both the Cybergnomes and the JavaWockies are looking forward to showing off their machines at Georgian’s Barrie Campus in a few short weeks.
“We are so happy that our first competition is here in Barrie (so) our families can come,” say members of the JavaWockies. “It’s going to be a great way to show our sponsors what a great investment we are and maybe get more teams started. Winning at home would be the best.”
Georgian staff and faculty are equally excited to host Barrie’s largest ever robotics competition. “We are so proud to support the next generation of innovators and technologists,” says Lisa Banks, Vice President of External Relations at Georgian College. “And who knows – some of them may be Georgian students some day!”
The action will take place Saturday, March 25 and Sunday, March 26 in Georgian’s Barrie Campus Athletics Centre (J Building) and there is plenty of free parking throughout the weekend. For more information, visit GeorgianCollege.ca.
Approximately 100 volunteers will be needed to ensure the competition runs smoothly. Volunteers are needed March 24 to 26, which includes set up day. Anyone interested in volunteering can visit firstroboticscanada.org/main/volunteer.