CHEK Upside: Victoria students selected for international robotics competition

CHEK Upside: Victoria students selected for international robotics competition
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At the Vancouver Island Tech Park, a funky-dressed group of teens are putting the finishing touches on their latest creation.

“I love robotics in all its entirety,” said Joel Vermes, a member of Team Fix It 3491. “It’s one of the funnest [sic] things I’ve ever done in my life.”

The Fix It 3491 robotics team is made up of greater Victoria high school students who design, build and program robots from start to finish. They named their current robot project ‘Beyonce’.

“It’s because the game this year has rings and so the joke was if you love it then you should’ve put a ring on it,” said Vermes, referring to Grammy award-winning singer Beyonce’s song Single Ladies.

Beyonce the robot can move autonomously and via remote control. The robot can pick up objects and shoot out small rings at nearby targets. This weekend, the robot’s pickup and shooting skills will be put to the test as the team was recently selected to compete in the Asia Pacific Championships.

“So basically we’ll be sending in scores to Australia, they’ll be judging it and everything through there and the whole world’s going to be competing through, like, computers,” said Vermes, wearing the team’s uniform green fedora hat, green tie and black button-up shirt.

Whether virtually or in-person, the team has worked on the project since September 2020. Back in May, they placed first in the BC First Tech Challenge competition. The students describe the project as a constant work in progress.

“Beyonce has typically, sometimes not always been the best,” said Hanson Chan, a member of Team Fix It. “But that’s the entirety of Robotics, it’s all about learning and improving from the mistakes and improving to the next innovation.”

“My goal actually isn’t that they create the perfect robot, I let them make lots of mistakes because that’s how they learn,” said Team Fix It coach Christine Nicholls. “I just want them to actually learn skills that are going to help them in the future.”

The group features boys and girls ranging in age from grades 9-12, and those new to robotics are welcome to join.

“Being able to join this and develop my skills as well as meeting people that are like me, made me feel like I fit in somewhere,” said team member Mythri Ushettige. “It was really nice.”

For anyone interested in the Fix It robotics program, click here.

Kevin CharachKevin Charach

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