Two Upper Canada College Year 5 students have taken their interest in robotics and run with it … all the way to the VEX Robotics World Championship in Louisville, Ky.
Kyle Au-Yeung and Justin Tan tied for fifth place in teamwork, and sixth in programming and solo driving skills, at the Ontario VIQ Provincial Championship at David Suzuki Secondary School in Brampton on March 2. That earned them a trip to Kentucky, along with two other Ontario elementary school teams, to compete against young peers from around the globe from April 28 to 30.
“I enjoyed the provincials very much,” says Au-Yeung of the 70-team event. “In competing, I learned that it is very fun to have tough competition that you can watch driving their robot.
“I also learned a lot about teamwork, which was that you had to communicate with other players and rely on them to have good results.”
Au-Yeung joined UCC’s after-school robotics program last year because he fancied the idea of building and coding robots. With knowledge gained from that, and programs he learned in information and communications technology classes, his interest and enhanced skill set prepared him for what he and Tan have recently achieved.
Au-Yeung says he would like to get more UCC students involved by starting a robotics recess club where participants could build and drive robots.
“The boys had to build and design a robot that can be driven with a controller,” says Bobby Tan, Justin’s father, of what was involved in the provincial competition.
“They also have to learn programming so that the robot can do autonomous drive. In addition, they worked on an engineering notebook that recorded the entire design process that is more than 100 pages.”
At tournaments, competitors are assigned to partner up with different teams that they’ve never met before to undertake teamwork challenges and operate their solo driver-controlled drives and autonomous drives.
Au-Yeung describes the competition this way:
“The point of the game is to score as many points as you can in one minute. The four ways to score points are to: use a robot's arm to lift up a robot along the bars on the field; grab a hub off a high post; place hubs in the scoring zones; and to stack hubs on top of other hubs already in the zone.
“Our robot can pick up the bonus hub, stack, high hang and drag the hubs over the field. Our robot is also programmed to do automated runs that can pick up certain hubs and score points within a minute.”
The boys, who called their team 1829P (Blue and White Blaze) in honour of UCC even though they entered the competition on their own and it wasn’t a College-related event, will use the same robot base but make improvements before taking it to the world championship.
“These boys showed so much perseverance and hard work,” says Tan. “This is a great experience and learning process for the boys and, regardless of the result, we as parents are extremely proud of their attitude and effort.”