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Coach 'thrilled' with Orillia robotics team's debut on world stage (6 photos)

Patrick Fogarty Robotics Academy makes an impression in Kentucky; 'We built a robot for the event that we knew would be competitive, and it was'

Robotics teams from Ontario, including Orillia, made their presence known at a world championship event earlier this month.

Orillia’s Patrick Fogarty Robotics Academy made its first trip to the VEX Robotics World Championship in Louisville, Ky. The team had 11 matches and, after four days of competition, ended up with a record of 6-5, finishing in the middle of the pack of 584 teams from around the world.

“I was pretty happy,” said Mike Milliard, the local team’s coach. “I knew the tournament was big and the competition would be tough. For us to have some success down there during our first kick at it, I’m thrilled with how our team did.”

The PF team went in confident, having performed well in various tournaments in Ontario in the lead-up to worlds.

PF Robotics Academy Team 42904G — comprised of Jess Cuthbertson, Andy Lentini, Julianne Pires and Logan Woodrow — was the first VEX Robotics team from Simcoe County to compete at the international level.

“One of the team’s most memorable matches occurred when they had the opportunity to pair with another Canadian team, against the Americans,” Milliard said. “Our Canadian pairing dominated the match, beating the Americans 33-3.”

While it was an impressive debut on the world stage for the local team, it was also a learning experience, he said, adding some “minor adjustments” will need to be made if PF gets the chance to return to the tournament next year.

“We built a robot for the event that we knew would be competitive, and it was,” Milliard said, “but next time, I’d bring more equipment with us to make sure the programming is precise.”

That could mean the team taking its own surface on which to practise. There were 16 practice fields at Louisville’s Freedom Hall, but with hundreds of teams competing, some had to wait hours for a 10-minute slot.

Despite those challenges, the team powered through.

“We had high expectations going in and the kids are really satisfied with how things went,” Milliard said.

The Dr. X Academy of Robotics and Coding, from Richmond Hill, placed first in the middle-school division, while the E-Bots Pilons, of Oakville, finished fifth at the high-school level.

"Teams from Ontario did exceptionally well at the world championships,” Milliard said.

The PF Robotics Academy will enter eight teams in the VEX Robotics challenge with the hope of returning to worlds in 2020.

The club will also host VEX Robotics qualifying tournaments Nov. 9 and Dec. 7 at Patrick Fogarty Catholic Secondary School, featuring about 36 teams from across the province.

Milliard thanked the many local sponsors who supported his team throughout the season.

For information about the PF Robotics Academy, check out its website.


Nathan Taylor

About the Author: Nathan Taylor

Nathan Taylor is an experienced multimedia journalist and editor who covers Orillia and other parts of Simcoe County.
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