The Galactic Wranglers Robotics Club out of Lacombe and Bentley are headed to Houston, Texas the week of April 15th for the World Championships, after they took home the Rookie All-Star Award at the Rockies Regional Competition in Calgary.
Robotics Mentor Warren Kreway said the trip to the World Championships comes after a complex year that saw an influx of rookies and also a downsizing of the club down to eight members.
“It was very successful and the kids were very focused,” Kreway said. “We started a new project called Geek Starter, which the kids pulled through; we went to FTC about a month ago in Edmonton and our rookie team did very well; and they challenged the FRC team last week in Calgary and they won a new award called the All-star Rookie Award.”
The Rockies Regional began with concern after the Wranglers went into the event with a robot in need of repair, but Kreway said the Club continued to battle through and eventually won the award based on an interview panel with the judges.
“It was the community and outreach work they do in Blackfalds, Bentley, Lacombe, Ponoka and overseas in the Ukraine,” Kreway said. “That impressed the judges. This is the first time this award has been given and it was quite a shock to us because all of the rookie awards had already been given out. We were just elated.”
Kreway said the Wranglers have taken in the NASA Space Centre in Houston, on top of rubbing elbows with over 800 robotics teams, consisting of 60,000 students.
This is the fourth World Championships the Club has attended and Kreway hopes this year’s success will lead to growth next year.
“Next year we will have a rookie fun team and we will have a competitive team,” he said. “There are not many kids that want to compete at that level, but there are a few and we will give them that challenge.
“The dynamics of the team is continually changing and we have a lot of girls in the Club this year, which has been a big bonus. The rookie girl team won a Connect Award in Edmonton. They were absolutely stoked.”
After winning in Calgary, the Club was needed to come up with around $20,000 for the trip. The community of Lacombe and central Alberta quickly stepped up to the plate.
“In five days we had $18,000. That shows me that by these kids giving back to the community, it will pay back and we will continue to honour the community,” Kreway said, adding the group consists of members from Lacombe, Bentley, Blackfalds, Lacombe and Ponoka — all of which gave support.
“Wolf Creek Public Schools was very excited about it. We contacted Jayson Lovell right away and they bought in. They put funding behind it and allowed us to take the kids out of school.
“The High School has been over the top. They have realized the value in robotics and we have taken our school and put it on the robotics map. Both Wolf Creek and LCHS need to be commended for their support.”
Kreway added, “I am very honoured to be part of this community and they have honoured robotics and everything else that we do.”