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Orillia robotics team off to Louisville to slug it out for world title

Senior team from Patrick Fogarty Robotics Academy gearing up to compete at April event in Kentucky

Well, that didn’t take long.

In just its second year of operation, the robotics club that is run out of Patrick Fogarty Catholic Secondary School has qualified a team for the VEX Robotics World Championship.

“This is a huge feat,” said Patrick Fogarty Robotics Academy coach Mike Milliard. “This has been a banner year and it’s only our sophomore year.”

The local club, which includes students from Patrick Fogarty and other area schools, sent three teams — two junior and one senior — to provincials last Saturday in St. Catharines.

All three made it to the finals, but it was the senior team that qualified for the worlds, which will take place April 23 to 28 in Louisville, Ky.

Sixty-nine teams competed at provincials. Thirteen Ontario teams will be at worlds, where it’s expected 580 squads from more than 40 countries will take part.

Patrick Fogarty is one of a “handful” of high-school teams to qualify for worlds, Milliard said, noting many are from private teams or have corporate sponsors.

“The fact that we made it out of Ontario with the level of competition we have here definitely gives me shivers down my spine,” he said.

While there are always opportunities to improve on their skills, members of the local team should focus on maintaining their current momentum as they prepare for worlds, he added.

“We’re already working at 110 per cent.”

Regardless of the outcome in Kentucky, it will be an unforgettable experience for the club.

“However, we’ve already set goals so that we aren’t going to just show up; we’re going to compete,” Milliard said.

International interest in robotics is on the rise. Last year, almost 20,000 teams competed throughout the year with the hope of making it to worlds. This year, there were more than 22,000.

“That is because you have, even right here in Simcoe County, school boards that are adapting,” Milliard said. “They’re bringing in VEX equipment. They’re seeing the trend within manufacturing and definitely trying to prepare our students.”

Milliard thanked his fellow coaches, Jeff Cole and Jason Janisse, for helping make the local robotics club a success.

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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