The second floor of the Red Deer College Innovation Centre was treated to a healthy dose of robotic fun as students from all over Central Alberta converged to discover and learn about robotics.
Student-designed robots of every shape, size and material zipped around the floor as they tried to complete various tasks during the RDC Robotics Riot, a joint event put on by United Robotics of Lacombe, Red Deer College and FIRST Robotics Western Canada which gave robotics teams the chance to showcase their work to the community while also gaining a little extra knowledge on the side.
The idea behind the day-long event was to gather students who are already involved robotics and also provide those who are interested in getting into robotics an opportunity to see what it’s all about.
“It’s crazy. Just to see everyone else’s different perspectives on how you can change something to complete the same task. Everyone’s got a different way of thinking about it, so it’s really quite amazing just to see everyone interpret it just a little differently,” said Noah Berreth, the assistant captain of the FIRST Tech Challenge Robotics Team at United Robotics of Lacombe.
Berreth, who is in Grade 10 and in his first year with the Lacombe team, said the school-run robotics team has had a huge impact on the high school experience.
“I think it’s important because we’re targeting a different demographic. Anybody who’s athletic can play sports but it takes a special kind of person to be a robotics engineer. It really helps involve more of our community,” he said.
Grade 11 student Shalee Hayden echoed her teammate’s thoughts.
“Just seeing how many different kinds of people come around and join in on this kind of robotics club is amazing,” said Hayden, who is in her second year with the club.
Berreth, who is involved primarily as a builder, also noted that working with robots is a great way to learn some essential life skills, such as problem solving.
“Everything tries to hit itself and blow itself up. Everything is trying to hurt itself so you have to find a way that each system can work together because if the wheel spins but the wheel hits the thrower so the thrower can’t move it’s just a whole mess,” he said.
But fall the time, effort, failures and frustrations are all worth it when the robot finally hums to life and performs its task without a hitch.
“Once you get everything down and its all running smoothly, it’s something else. It’s a piece of art almost.”
The Robotics Riot also included a couple of workshops for teams on building and programming robots while also giving them some time and space to do some practice competitions and showcase the work that the FIRST Lego League, FIRST Tech Challenge and FIRST Robotics Challenge teams have done.