RMT Robotics Ltd.
On April 23rd, twenty-one students from St. Mary Catholic Secondary School’s MakeShift Robotics team boarded a bus bound for St. Louis and the FIRST Robotics World Championships. Over the next four days they would compete in a battle of technology, strategy, smarts and nerve against the top 400 high school robotics teams from across North America and around the world.
the team in action!
Despite being only in their second year as a team, this group of dedicated students from grades 9 to 12, along with their mentors from industry and academia were going to compete with their Frisbee-shooting-pyramid-scaling robot “Fling” in the Galileo division. Fling was the result of six weeks of intensive effort which began in early January when this year’s game challenge “Ultimate Ascent” was announced by FIRST. With no instructions, the students built their robot from the ground up. With limited access to equipment they found a way to fabricate, wire, program, and test their creation. There was not nearly enough time but they got the job done. In fact, their robot performed well enough at Regional competitions in Waterloo and Mississauga to be ranked among the top in the world.
In St. Louis the team’s pit crew, scouting team, and drive team put the experience of their two Regional competitions to good use in a series of qualification matches. In each match, three robots from each alliance try to outscore each other by shooting discs through scoring goals in either end of a 27’ by 54’ playing field. For bonus points, the robots attempt to climb a 10 ft tall steel pyramid as the time on the clock ticks down. Utilizing their high precision shooting system and an efficient climbing mechanism, MakeShift finished the qualification round in 23rd place with a record of five wins, two losses and one tie.
During alliance selections for the elimination rounds, MakeShift (team 4039) was ecstatic when they were chosen by team 1114 (Simbotics) and team 118 (The Robonauts) to round out the first seed alliance. These three high-powered robots were the immediate favourite to win the Galileo Division and the Einstein Championship round. MakeShift’s alliance won two of the three quarter-final matches and moved on to the semi-finals. In front of thousands of spectators and in some of the most exciting and high-scoring matches of the whole Championship their alliance split the first two matches of the semi’s with their opposition. In the deciding third match, some bad luck prevented MakeShift’s alliance partner from climbing to the top of the pyramid and their alliance lost (235 points to 219 points) to the alliance that would go on to win the World Championship title.
To even be at the World Championships was quite an accomplishment and to finish so close to a world title is a testament to the team’s hard work. The St. Mary Roboteers are inspired. While some will be moving on to post-secondary studies in architecture, mechanical and software engineering, others can’t they wait for next season and another chance to test drive a career in technology and engineering.
The team would like to sincerely thank their mentors, their supportive parents and their generous sponsors: Eaton Canada, St. Mary Catholic Secondary School, the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board, FIRST Robotics Canada, Xerox Canada, RMT Robotics, Gridpath Solutions, and FIRST Robotics team 2056.
Founded by inventor Dean Kamen, FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) was created to inspire young people’s interest and participation in science and technology. The FIRST Robotics Competition is an annual competition that helps students discover the rewards and excitement of science, engineering, and technology. Working with mentors, students have just six weeks to design, build, and test their robots to meet the season’s engineering challenge. Once these young inventors create the robot, their teams participate in Regional competitions that measure the effectiveness of each robot, the power of collaboration, and the determination of students. The 2012 season is expected to include 2,400 teams competing in 52 Regional events; 14 District Competitions; 1 State Championship; 1 Region Championship; and the FIRST Championship in St. Louis, April 25-28. Participants are eligible to receive nearly $14 million in scholarships from some of the finest science and engineering schools in the country.
This year’s game “Ultimate Ascent” is played by two competing alliances. The match begins with a fifteen-second Autonomous Period in which robots operate independently of driver inputs. Discs scored during this period are worth additional points. For the remainder of the match, drivers control robots and try to maximize their alliance score by scoring as many goals as possible. The match ends with robots attempting to climb up pyramids located near the middle of the field. Each robot earns points based on how high it climbs.