The gymnasium at L.A. Matheson Secondary school in Surrey was buzzing with excitement – and robots – as the best 24 teams in the province competed in the BC Robotics Championship last weekend.
More than 250 students from the ages of 14 to 18 squared off with their robots Saturday and Sunday (Feb. 25 and 26) for a chance to earn one of the top two spots and advance to the 2023 FIRST Championships in Texas.
Ravneet Brar, a grade 12 student at L.A. Matheson, told the Now-Leader that being a part of the Eclipse team has had a huge impact on her.
“Especially as a woman, I would say I’m more comfortable with using machinery, tools and learning how to build robots,” she said, adding the feeling of the whole weekend was “exhilarating.”
The community team from North Delta, Forces Unknown, placed second so they will travel to Houston in April for the world championships. The team FIX IT from Victoria in first overall.
Three teams from Surrey competed, as did several from North Delta. The two L.A. Matheson teams, the Mecha Mustangs, placed 6th and Eclipse earned the Robot Design Award.
Ian Koscielski, executive director of FIRST Robotics B.C., said the competition started as a way to get students interested in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) careers.
“(It is) a different way to explore them get an idea of what they’d be going into when they get into those career options,” Koscielski said.
The challenge for this year’s competition was for the robots to pick up cones and place them in the designated spot.
Zeshan Gill, a grade 12 student at L.A. Matheson, said it was more challenging than it sounds.
“It is kind of hard and complicated actually do.”
Zeshan joined the team because he said he found the topic interesting. Over time, he said, the experience has opened his eyes to the STEM community and all it has to offer.
“I (now) want to have a career in STEM.”
The 2023 FIRST Championships are set for April 19 to 22.