UMEI Lightning Robotics Teams Off To Provincials Again

Coach John Fittler, Peter Martens, Tayler Wiens, Tyler Brisbin, Shannon Douglas, Christina Janzen, Sharon Latam, Ben Recker, Nathan Ribble, Aidan Brown, Jocelyn Giroux, Cole Baptista

After several months of long hours building their robots, UMEI’s two Robotics teams “The Thunderbirds” and “Ablaze” competed against other high schools in Ontario in the FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC). FTC is a World recognized program which unveils a new competition challenge each September.

After designing, building and coding their robot to complete the requirements, Robotics teams from across the globe meet at events where they put their robots to the test in round robin competition.

This year’s task was to load small hexagon pixels from the ground and place them on a slanted board as quickly as possible within two minutes and thirty seconds. To add more complexity to the game, robots that had the ability to launch a drone out of the 12ft x 12ft stadium scored bonus points. As well, robots that could suspend themselves off the ground from a horizontal pole at the end of the game achieved 20 points.

“The game keeps getting more complex every year,” commented coach John Fittler. “Our students wanted to build robots that could do all the tasks, and through hard work, they did.”

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

At the Windsor district event held at St. Clair College Dec 16, both UMEI teams made it to the championship while competing against twelve teams from across Ontario. Unfortunately, they lost in the finals against two teams from Richmond Hill who hold the current World Record for points in this challenge. The Thunderbirds were recognized with the “Motivate Award” and Ablaze was awarded the “Think Award” for their engineering design and notebook.

In talking about their robot, lead builders from Team Ablaze, Christina Janzen and Sharon Latam, said, “we wanted to build a reliable functional robot that could take a hit, but also one that could win over the crowds with our climbing ability.”

Team Ablaze – Tyler Brisbin, Peter Martens, Shannon Douglas, Christina Janzen, Sharon Latam, Tayler Wiens, Coach John Fittler

On January 13, both teams competed in the Kingston District tournament where seventeen teams entered. The Thunderbirds and Ablaze again made it to the championship as an alliance against their archrivals from Richmond Hill.

They fell short of their winning goal but were highly recognized with 1st and 2nd place finishes with the “Connect Award.” This award recognizes teams who promote Robotics and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) within their community and Industrial Base.

Both teams will now compete in the Provincial Championships in Kingston on Feb 10, hoping for a berth in the World Championship in Houston Texas in April.

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