Robotics competition winners will head to US

Robotics competition winners will head to US

Monday, March 23, 2009
Robotics competition winners will head to US

Twelve Auckland teenagers have a date in Dallas next month after manoeuvring their machines to victory in a fast and furious final of a robotics competition on the Albany campus at the weekend.

Two teams made up of Avondale College pupils and home-schooled children will compete at the Vex World Championships on April 30 after winning the New Zealand national finals at Massey University this weekend. The alliance was declared tournament champions from a field of 31 teams.

Competition convener Dr Johan Potgeiter, a senior lecturer at the School of Engineering and Advanced Technology, says it was a lot of fun. “The winning alliance collaborated on their software and they were both awesome,” he says. “Home school’s robot, Free Range Robotics, was absolutely brilliant. In one task it picked up multiple cubes and threw them out of the ring in a real show of strength, while Avondale College’s robot, Binary Blitz A, was extremely fast.”

The competition promotes education and skills in technology, science, engineering and mathematics, as well as critical life skills such as teamwork, project management and problem solving. The international championship is expected to draw 2000 students comprising 200 teams from 13 countries.

Westlake Girls’ High School won the robot skills championship and Onehunga High School won the excellence award. Both qualify for the Dallas finals if they can secure funding for the trip. Home school also won the programming skills section. Other schools receiving awards were Glenfield College (STEM award), Rutherford College (judges’ award) and Rangitoto College (support award).

Vex robotics competitions, which started in the United States, have been gathering momentum in New Zealand since being launched by Massey Albany last year.

Teams taking part in the national contest included Mt Albert Boys’ Grammar School, Northcote College, Rangitoto College, Glenfield College, Kristin School, Albany Senior High School, Takapuna Grammar School, Edgewater College, Westlake Boys’ High School, Westlake Girls’ High School, Avondale College, Lynfield College, Auckland International School, Rutherford College, Onehunga High School and home school teams in Auckland, as well as two teams from Palmerston North Boys’ High School and one from Nelson College.

Sponsors for the competition were New Zealand Trade & Enterprise, Fisher & Paykel Healthcare, FedEx Express, Smales Farm, Glidepath and The Edge radio.