UMEI Lightning Robotics Competes at Provincials in Hamilton


Team 8081 UMEI Lightning Robotics at University of Windsor event with the Quality Award. Isabel Neufeld, Nick Driedger (mentor), Nathan Ribble, Aidan Brown, Liam Brown, Cole Baptista, Delaney Dault, Mason Fittler, Olivia Coppola, Justin Neufeld, Ben Recker, Phil Brown (mentor), John Fittler (teacher)

Although this was only their second season in the FIRST Robotics Competition, the rookie UMEI team made it all the way to the Provincial Championship in Hamilton April 6 – 8, 2023. It was a long journey of qualifying before they met up with the best 80 teams in Ontario.

FIRST Robotics is a world-wide competition, and UMEI is recognized as team 8081 in the world.

Ben Recker and Aidan Brown in the pit area at the FIRST Provincial Championships

After the challenge was unveiled on January 8, UMEI students had to design and build a robot that could load road pylons and cubes onto pegs and platforms at various heights as well as balance their robot on a tilting station.

The teams then meet at competitions and face off in 3-on-3 competitive play, with points awarded in a variety of ways.

Team 8081’s robot with fans in the background at the University of Windsor event

“Our team wanted to build a robot that could be really versatile and reach all levels,” commented lead builder Aidan Brown.

UMEI entered one of the hardest competitions in Ontario staged at the University of Waterloo as their first showing. They managed to finish 12th out of 32 teams, making the playoffs and winning the Engineering Inspiration Award, which celebrates outstanding success in advancing respect and appreciation for engineering within the team’s school and community.

Team 8081 Drive Team: Braedon Douglas, Aidan Brown, Mason Fittler, Ben Recker

Isabel Neufeld, Safety Captain, was also awarded Safety All-Star for going above and beyond to create a culture of safety.

“I was pleased with the way our team performed under pressure and the judges were really impressed with our program,” said robotics teacher John Fittler.

Isabel Neufeld won the Safety All-Star award at both University of Waterloo and University of Windsor FIRST Robotics Competitions

Team 8081 also competed the following week at the St. Denis Center at the University of Windsor, finishing 4th out of 30 teams and winning the Quality Award, celebrating machine robustness in concept and fabrication, and Isabel Neufeld was again recognized as the Safety All-Star.

Aidan Brown and Mason Fittler prepare the robot for competition at University of Waterloo

Chani Wiens, Director of Enrollment & Community Engagement at UMEI, commented, “When you see the variety of awards that these students are being recognized for, it is clear that our goal of ‘whole person learning’ is being realized. It’s not about the robots – it’s about the students.”

Team 8081’s robot in action at University of Waterloo event

After some changes to their robot, UMEI traveled to the provincial championship and finished qualifying rounds with a 7-5 record, making it into the semi-finals.

In the end, they narrowly missed the chance to attend the World Championships in Houston, Texas and are currently ranked 35th out of 127 teams in Ontario.

Team 8081 UMEI Lightning Robotics with Engineering Inspiration Award at University of Waterloo Event. Nick Driedger (mentor), Madison Gosselin, Aidan Brown, Olivia Coppola, Cole Baptista, Liam Brown, Braedon Douglas, Ben Recker, Delaney Dault, Justin Neufeld, Isabel Neufeld, Mason Fittler, Jocelyn Giroux, John Fittler (teacher), Phil Brown (mentor)

“I can’t wait until next season and the new challenge reveal,” commented lead programmer Ben Recker. “This year was our team’s first time through the whole competition season, and we are confident we will be even better next year.”

Team 8081 would like to thank all their sponsors who contributed financially or with parts and labour for their 2023 robot. A full list of the sponsors and mentors can be seen at

All photos provided by UMEI Christian High School


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