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Friday April 4th, 2014

Posted at 2:27pm

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Have you ever been to a robot battle?

Thirteen local high school teams and groups of students from as far away as New Jersey have converged on the St. Denis Centre at the University of Windsor this weekend to take part in the inaugural Windsor Essex FIRST Robotics Competition.

But the competition isn’t just about the humans that make it all possible. Forty-two robots were featured Friday and will return Saturday to battle it out in an arena setup inside the St. Denis Centre.

Director of Robotics and Youth Programs Dr. Irek Kusmierczyk, a key organizer for the event, says robotics are a way to bring students together to solve problems. “Things will go wrong with the robots, and the question, the point of all of this is, ‘how ya gonna fix it’?”

Executive Director of FIRST Robotics Mark Breadner says inspiration is what it’s all about. “The real reason we do this is to inspire students.” Breadner says high school robot builders often take a path towards science, technology, engineering and math after FIRST got them interested.

The competition includes a pit area for robot repairs, a machine shop for making replacement parts, and of course, the arena where honour is up for grabs.

But how does it all work? The game is called Aerial Assist. Two competing alliances of three robots play in the arena where a truss is suspended over the centre of the field. The objective is to score as many balls in goals as possible during a two and a half minute match. And it’s all about teamwork.

Kusmierczyk says the teamwork also extends to the level of involvement a number of key industry partners bring to help students get involved. Local sponsors such as Valiant, Centerline and Reko are just a few of the companies who have helped to make it all possible according to Kusmierczyk.

If you want to watch robots battling it out, Saturday April 5th is the big day. The event is completely open and free to the public and competition gets underway at 9am at the St. Denis Centre.

For more information, visit Windsor Essex FIRST’s website.

A robot from a team in Stoney Creek, ON prepares to battle

Controlling the robots

Sabre Bytes Robotics from Sandwich Secondary School

Kinetic Knights Robotics from Kincardine, ON

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