Fort McMurray Catholic School’s robotics program ready for a busy year

VEX Robotics Over-Under -web image
VEX Robotics Over-Under -web image

The Catholic School Division’s robotics teams are gearing up for another exciting season.

Building on the success of last year which included two teams making the trip to the VEX World Championships in Robotics, the program is already preparing for the first tournament of the year to be held at Father Mercredi on November 25.

“Our first tournament of the season is one we are hosting here in Fort McMurray,” says Holly Kalma, program coach.

“After that we will likely be heading to Calgary for a December tournament, then back to Calgary in February for Mecha Mayhem (which is a large international tournament), and then hopefully Provincials.”

Kalma says this year will be a bit of a rebranding year for the teams, as many student competitors have graduated.

“Two graduates went to the University of Calgary to pursue engineering. One graduate is at the University of Toronto studying robotics and engineering,” says Kalma.

“Over the past several years, almost all of our robotics alumni have gone into a STEM field.”

Each year there are specific tasks or games in which the student-constructed robots must compete in. This year’s competition is called Over Under. The first objective is for students to design and build a functional chassis for the robot that they can drive. From there they create and build tools that allow the robots to complete the tasks required in the games.

Coach Kalma adds there are more challenges than just building great robots.

“Funding the construction of robots and all of that travel is expensive, so we have some fundraising goals as well,” says Kalma.

“We will be hosting a market in October at Father Mercredi as one of our key fundraisers.”

Coach Tom MacIsaac says their main goal this year is to make it into the provincials, but he hopes they can return to the World Championships in the spring of 2024.

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