Last weekend, Orillia’s own PF Robotics Jr. robotics club finished tops in the province.
Both teams earned the chance to compete against the best teams from around the globe by qualifying for the VEX IQ Remote World Championships 2021. This year, the tournament is being held remotely with participants given 20-minute time slots in which to complete both the autonomous and driving challenges.
In just four years since inception, PF Robotics of Patrick Fogarty Catholic Secondary School has grown into a provincial powerhouse. However, success did not come easy this year due to the pandemic.
With the cancellation of extracurricular activities at all schools across the province, robotics coaches Jason Janisse and Mike Milliard had to trim down the size of the club from eight teams to two teams and move the operation outside of the school setting.
Kids selected from local elementary schools organized into two teams last summer not even knowing if they would be able to compete this season with COVID-19 restricting large gatherings.
The teams persevered throughout the summer and fall and were rewarded for their efforts when VEX Robotics, the organizer of the global robotics competitions, announced that it had developed computer software that would allow teams to compete remotely. The software uses HD webcams to superimpose two fields on top of one another so that teams from different countries could compete on the same field, and a computer algorithm would score the match.
Throughout the fall and winter, both teams had the opportunity to compete in tournaments across Ontario, West Virginia and Texas from the comfort of home.
Leading up to the VEX IQ Provincial Championships last weekend, each team had stacked up multiple trophies at both local and global events.
“We worked very hard through the remote process and persevered. Both Jason and I are very proud of the work our two teams accomplished, both in person and remotely, this season,” said Milliard, head coach.
At the Remote Provincial Championships, held on April 17, PF Robotics team 1705D, made up of Grade 8 student Luke Sweet from Notre Dame Catholic School and Grade 7 student Shauna Bradt from Monsignor Lee Catholic School, put up impressive scores and wowed the judges during an interview about their engineering principles, earning them the Engineering Design Award.
PF Robotics team 1705A, comprised of Grade 3 student Marcus Milliard and Grade 6 student Troy Woods, both from Notre Dame Catholic School, and Grade 7 student Zachary Emons from Monsignor Lee Catholic School were honoured to receive the Excellence Award at the Provincial Championships. The Excellence Award, the highest award presented in the VEX IQ Robotics competition, is presented to a team that exemplifies overall excellence in building a high-quality robotics program.
The VEX IQ Remote World Championships is May 23 to 29, held remotely in Texas.
Janisse and Milliard are proud of their teams’ achievements this season and are excited for their teams’ chances to finish at the top of the VEX IQ Remote World Championships 2021.