It’s a place where aspiring engineers and computer programmers can come together and compete to build the best robot.
Tuesday marked the 11th annual Oxford Invitational Youth Robotics Competition, where schools from across and outside of the county come to compete with the robots their teams have built.
This year, the teams were tasked with designing and building a robot from a Lego Mindstorms kit and program it to assemble bolts, washers and nuts and assemble them in a controlled manner.
Grade 12 students Lennon Nemirovsky and Quinn Fisher from Sir Fredrick Banting Secondary School in London were both competing in the challenge Tuesday.
Nemirovsky said it took their team around two months to build their robot.
“We had so many students interested in robotics that we actually divided them up,” he said. “We had enough of these kits that we had them all build their own robots, then they competed and we decided which one was better. This ended up being the best design.”
Fisher added that they took the best aspects of each of the four robots they had to choose from and integrated them into their final design.
“We took the best parts from each robot and we found a way to join them together to optimize everything,” Fisher said. “It was the best thing we could possibly come up with, just by combining everyone’s ideas.”
Both Fisher and Nemirovsky agreed that the robotics challenge was a good experience to participate in.
“It’s an experience you can’t really get anywhere else,” Nemirovsky said. “You’re competing against other high schools, so it’s not only with students that you know… It gives a good competition sense to students like myself.”
Fisher added that one of the best parts of being on a team like this is watching people get to know each other and interact.
“They all have the same interests and they meet people who they might not have met or hung out with much before,” he said. “Then they realize that they have a lot in common with that person. So you see all of these friendships start to form… It’s really something special.”
Grade 7 student Cameron Jansen from Roch Carrier French Immersion School in Woodstock was competing on the youngest team at the competition. He said his team was the underdogs and they were going to try and do as well as they could.
“I’ve been doing (robotics) for the past couple of years, but this club just started this year,” Jansen said. “It’s pretty fun with all of the programming and building.”
Jansen said he hoped his team’s robot did it’s job well.
“We don’t necessarily need to win because there are some more experienced teams,” he added.
Rui Vidal, an enforcement officer with the Ontario College of Trades, was judging the competition, and said they look for timing, operation and assembly when they judge the participants.
Lisa Wells, manager of continuing education and contract training with Fanshawe College’s Woodstock campus, said Fanshawe is very interested in the opportunity to assist with the challenge because it allows high school students to build a robot and compete as a team.
“It’s our hope that this will spark an interest in robotics engineering or technology in general,” Wells said. “It gives the participants the opportunity to solve a problem, work as a team and practice conflict resolution problem solving skills as well.”