In-person robotics competition returns to Windsor

The robot games have started again.

For the first time in three years, the Windsor-Essex Great Lakes District competition saw high school students from across Ontario put their robots to the test – as 17 teams competed Saturday at the St. Denis Center to showcase their design and engineering skills.

This is the first district competition for Windsor-Essex robotics students since 2019. The 2020 and 2021 competitions have been paused due to COVID-19.

This means that for a student who joined their school’s robotics team after 9th grade, this would be their only district competition before graduating from high school.

“I wanted to join robotics for about three years now. But in grade 10, I didn’t because everything closed around spring,” said Sandwich high school student Alma Piche.

“In Grade 11, we didn’t have any extracurriculars and I was online due to COVID, so I’m really glad I got to be here this year.”

Piche said she felt “lucky” considering there are so many students who didn’t have the opportunity to attend an in-person robotics competition during their senior year of high school. they graduated in 2020 or 2021.

“I’m really grateful things went well for me,” Piché said, adding that her favorite part of the event was meeting students from other schools’ teams.

For Upkar Chana, a 12th grade student at Massey High School who helps design and controls his team’s robot, he first wanted to join robotics because of his older brother who was part of the team years ago.

During Saturday’s competition, Chana said he’s excited to follow in his brother’s footsteps, even if it happens a few years later than he thought.

“When COVID happened, I didn’t think I could do robotics. But yeah, being able to do it this year has been a huge relief.”

This year’s district competition saw the teams compete in 3-on-3 matches, firing big balls into a goal in the center of the field. Towards the end of the match, robots try to hang on to monkey bars.

The higher they climb, the more points they get.

“It’s so cool to see the creativity of these teams spring into action on the pitch,” said Jaeleen Koscielski, volunteer for FIRST Robotics Canada and Saber Bytes 772 alumnus, adding that she’s “been waiting a long time” for the return. from Saturday to -individual competition.

“For a lot of these students, this is their first event and it’s so exciting because we get to show all of their excited faces.”

Martin E. Berry