'I think we are going to win,' Calgary youth robotics competition heats up with teams from around the world
A huge robotics competition gears up in Calgary this weekend drawing high school competitors from around the world to strut their electronics know-how.
A competitor and student from Calgary's Webber Academy says his team relied on some pretty high-end expertise in the development of their robot.
"Mentors are a really big part of our team," Kai Hefner told CBC's The Homestretch.
"University students who know how to do engineering, they come on and they teach us how to build things. There are a lot of sponsors who sponsor us in-kind for mentors and there is a lot of Google research."
Hefner's group, Team 5630, brings together students from eight schools with five or six mentors on board to help out.
They built a robot that can identify a target and get past obstacles to reaching it.
"It can actually disperse balls, so say there is a bunch of balls in front of a gear. It can intake all of those balls over the robot and pick up the gear instead so that is really cool."
The competition, 2017 FRC Western Canada Regional, isn't Team 5630's first rodeo.
"We actually went to the Idaho regional," Hefner explained.
"Which for us didn't turn out all that well, but it was a good recognition to see that everything works."
A competitor from a Fort McMurray high school says his team used the Japanese term for continuous improvement, kaizen, as the basis of their work.
"We just take each other's ideas and try and make the perfect solution to a problem," said Nathaniel Crossley, a student at Father Patrick Mercredi Community High School.
"A lot of this is mainly teamwork. It is not individually designed. Someone will design something and then pitch it and then we'll see how we like it and if we'll use it or not."
His team's robot can pick up balls, gears and even climb a rope.
Crossley says he's always had an interest in the robotics world.
"It started out with Lego robotics in Grades 7 and 8 and the moved up to VEX and now I am here with FRC which is the biggest robots we have at our school."
Organizers say the competition draws 49 teams from as far away as Australia, China, Poland and Turkey.
And Hefner's confident his team will do well.
"I think we are going to win," Hefner said. "I want to win and I think we will, so we will see."
His team has named their entry.
"Metric, because we are Canada," he explained. "Except everything on the robot is in Imperial but like, whatever."
The competition wraps Saturday at the University of Calgary's Olympic Oval.
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With files from Jenny Howe, The Homestretch