It takes time and a lot of work to build a robot from scratch. Grade ten Esquimalt High School student Katja Verkerk admits she spends the majority of her free time with her robotics team.

She is keen and interested in learning more science, technology, engineering, and mathematics with aspirations to pursue a career in aerospace engineering after high school, especially with the Canadian Pacific Regional FIRST Robotics competition inching closer by the hour.

“We come here on weekends and during lunch hour basically whenever you are free,” said Verkerk.

Last year, the team at Esquimalt High School competed for the first time and they won the all-star rookie award. Twelve students then went to Houston, Texas for a week to attend the World Championships.

This year, the team has almost doubled in size and they hope to do well again at the esteemed competition.

“Pretty close to 40 teams are coming from all over the world. Some of the teams are world champions brought in by FIRST robotics and they come in and they compete with us and its great to see what these kids do, how they put together the robots, what they’ve chosen to do for their problems,” said lead mentor and teacher at Esquimalt High School, Tina O’Keeffe.

Teams are all given the same challenge with six weeks to design, build, and program every single aspect of the robot so its ability to solve the challenge.

“This year the robots have to control basically dodge ball sized rubber balls, pick them up and lift them up to eight feet tall. What we have is an intake that basically uses two rubber rollers that will pull the balls in and a two joint arms that have a wrist that can control the angle where we are placing them,” said team captain Caeden Austin.

They have one day left until the deadline and it’s crunch time.

“We’ve got all the motors wired up everything like that, it’s just a matter of mounting and assembling everything,” said Austin.

Every student plays a vital role in making sure the final product is competition ready.

Cameron Mears is one of the programmers and is working to write code so it all works and does what it’s supposed to do.

“We haven’t tested it yet but hopefully it should work,” said Mears.

After Tuesday’s deadline, they have to put away their robot and won’t be able to work on it again until a day before the competition. Luckily, they are able to use the robot they built last year and continue testing and perfecting their code.

By Monday evening, it was working fairly well but the real test will be out on the competition floor where their creation will hopefully stand out among some of the worlds best.

The Canadian Pacific Regional FIRST Robotics competition will be held at the Save-on-Foods Memorial Arena from March 6-9.

Volunteers are needed for several different roles. Interested people can contact Lucy Mears at [email protected] or call 250-388-6577, 250-812-5673.

 

Luisa Alvarez