Robots On The Rise – Father Mercredi Hosts World’s Northernmost VEX Robotics Tournament

It was robot-central down at Father Mercredi High School this weekend.

On Saturday, dozens of students and families were at the Fort McMurray Catholic School District’s VEX Robotics Tournament – the northernmost tournament of its kind.

Kids had a chance to test out their robots, practice against different teams and network with other robotics students.

Robotics Teacher Tom MacIsaac says the program has been part of the Fort McMurray Catholic school district’s curriculum since 2012.

He tells Mix News when it comes to robotics, the community has grown exponentially.

“It’s exploded. We were fortunate because we have such great support from the community and our district. We were also able to offer classes in VEX robotics and First Robotics Competitions. So, students get a taste for it in the classroom, realize they want to compete, and they go and do that.”

Older kids took part in a game known as the VEX Robotics Competition: Tower Takeover – which involves teams using their designs to place cubes in towers.

Meanwhile, younger students also got a chance to experience their first glimpse of robotics through the First Lego League Scrimmage event.

FLL teaches kids to code and test robots using Lego pieces.

MacIsaac notes since 2012, there have been numerous alumni who’ve applied robotics skills to their career paths.

“Robotics is a holistic thing. There are so many sub-components of robotics that students can discover to guide them down paths to what they want to do when they graduate. We have three students now at the University of Alberta for Engineering and another alumnus who is graduating this year in Computer Science.”

MacIsaac says seeing the program grow and flourish has been a proud achievement of his.

“I’m a geek at heart and I’ve been doing a robotics a long time,” MacIsaac said. “I started with underwater robotics but now I’m here in Fort McMurray. Just seeing the support from the district, the community and excitement of the students – it’s contagious, I love it, it’s amazing.”

The tournament was a friendly precursor to a few upcoming competitions.

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