Robotics teams rise to the challenge at regional championships

Pacific Northwest Regional Championships at BCIT

It was an exciting homecoming for the nine Vancouver Island robotics teams, who were definitely making the news at the recent Pacific Northwest Regional Championships.

Sixty teams from B.C., Alberta, and Washington State gathered at the BCIT campus to compare their skills at robotic programming. In the world of student robotic competitions, it’s the largest of its kind, involving 10,000 teams in 750 tournaments worldwide.

For those not familiar with the scene, imagine the excitement of a gymnasium divided into five competition courts, a skills court, and a practice field, each whirring with machines that will prove the capabilities of their builders.

Each team has brought their best design to demonstrate to a panel of judges how they can apply their cooperative learning skills to achieve a particular goal. Add the attention of live broadcast, large media news coverage from CBC, the Province, and Global TV, and the excitement of parents and peers, and you’ll start to feel how challenging it would be for these students (and their robots) to perform well under pressure.

In each 12’x12’ competition court, the robotic sport of “Nothing But Net” was underway, as robots competed to slingshot foam balls into nets using various configurations of proximity sensors, motors, gears and pneumatics. There were also bonus points for those who could lift a competitor’s robot off the ground.

The Pacific Northwest Regional Championships has two divisions, the A Division, which was made up of 24 teams, and B Division which was made of up 34 teams, all from B.C.

The NIDES/Navigate teams B, C, E, F, G, H and J teams participated in the B Division and had their best season to date, taking home six trophies in all.

Teams 7842F and 7842B won the top team Championship Alliance, 7842F won both the Excellence Award and the Robot Skills Award, 7842B won the Design Award, 7842H won the Build Award.

Although the Navigate teams 7842A and 7842D were the highest ranking teams from B.C. in the A Division, placing third and fourth in regulation play, they were knocked out in the semifinals. Winners in this division go to compete in the upcoming world competitions.

Team 7842 will be hosting a VEX Worlds Party on April 22-23 at the Tsolum School Campus of NIDES/Navigate to watch and follow the 450 high school teams participating in all five divisions at the Worlds.

These events will be live streamed on five video screens beginning at  8:30 each morning to late afternoon and all interested students and adults are welcome to attend.

For Navigate teacher Stewart Savard, it was exciting to see the passion these students have for their achievements and STEM subject areas (science, technology, engineering and mathematics).  “Our teams did exceptionally well, and this was our best success in terms of results. It was a great way to end the season.”