UMEI Robotics Teams Place 2nd In Provincials

Back row: Cole Baptista, Cody Konrad, Ben Recker, Mr. John Fittler, Aidan Brown and Braedon Douglas. Front row: Nathan Ribble, Isabel Neufeld and Mason Fittler with their FTC robots and trophies and medals from the regional competitions

Sunday, February 26 marked the Ontario Provincial Championships of the First Robotics Tech Challenge in Central Scarborough. Thirty-one teams from across Ontario gathered at Centennial College, and the Essex County representatives included two teams from UMEI Christian High School in Leamington, Radiant Robotics and The Thunderbirds, after both teams qualified in their district FTC events.

The event required robots to load mini-pylons on multi-levelled pegs with the highest level being the hardest to achieve. UMEI’s robots could deposit cones on all three levels.

Radiant Robotics – Ryan Friesen, Cody Konrad, Isabel Neufeld, Braedon Douglas and Mason Fittler

“I was really pleased with the way our robot functioned throughout the tournament,” commented Aidan Brown, lead builder for The Thunderbirds. “Mr. Fittler, our coach, had us well prepared for responding to breakdowns.”

After round-robin play, The Thunderbirds were undefeated and ranked 2nd while Radiant Robotics overcame some early hurdles to finish with a 17th ranking. Both teams qualified for the playoff round with the hope of winning a bid to the World Championship to be held in Houston Texas.

The Thunderbirds – Cole Baptista, Aidan Brown, Ben Recker and Nathan Ribble

“You have to be able to handle pressure during the driving matches,” said elevator and claw operator Cody Konrad. “These are great skills to help us in the workforce.”

After several duelling matches, Radiant Robotics and The Thunderbirds were finally back together as an alliance finding themselves in the championship match. Unfortunately, they were not able to overcome the strengths of the robots from the North York and Richmond Hill schools, losing two straight matches but ended the event in second place.

The Thunderbirds and Radiant Robotics of UMEI (left) competing as the Blue Alliance during qualifying rounds of the First Tech Challenge Ontario Provincial Championships

“My FTC experience was unforgettable,” said Radiant Robotics team manager Isabel Neufeld. “My team helped each other succeed and never failed to reach out the competing teams. Not only have I grown in my skills, but in my confidence and desire to work together with others to achieve great things.”

Lead programmer Ben Recker is already looking to the next season. “It was a great season and we are already preplanning for the unveiling of the next challenge coming this September,” said Recker.

Ben Recker shakes hands with the winning team after placing second at the First Tech Challenge Ontario Provincial Championships

Radiant Robotics and The Thunderbirds would like to thank all their mentors and sponsors who supported them during the season, which included 34 local businesses and many individuals.

For a full list of sponsors, visit the Robotics page at

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