Robot masters to compete against the best

Robot masters to compete against the best

A group of Armadale students will head to Sydney next month to compete in a major robotics competition. Photograph – Aaron Van Rongen.

Robots may be something people associate with the distant future but that future is already a reality for a group of Armadale school students whose own machine is about to be tested against those from some of the country’s best young minds.

The group of 13 Armadale Senior High School students built their contraption to compete in an international robotics challenge, which tests school-age students to build machines to set regulations.

The competition, For Inspiration & Recognition of Science & Technology – or FIRST – will be held in Sydney in March, where students will compete with their machines for robotic supremacy.

FIRST is not a robot fighting competition, but a competency one where the students will need to prove their robot can competently lift and precisely place items.

As well as helping students develop important skills, the competition enables schools to develop partnerships and share ideas, with finalists being invited to compete with their robot in the United States of America.

ASHS Specialist IT teacher Simon Montgomery floated entering the competition to students and said he received an enthusiastic response.

Despite the ASHS students being on the back foot due to a hold-up with parts delivery, and it being their first time in the competition, Mr Montgomery said he was hoping for a strong result.

“I think we’ve done a very good job as a rookie team,” he said.

“We’ve stayed at school basically every night since the start of term, plus most of the weekends.

“We’ve spent hours and hours on it over the month.”

Many current school students are likely to work in digital workplaces after finishing school, including with machines or robots, and a 2015 United States labour review claimed future workers would need to be technologically savvy.

ASHS year 12 student Reid Shaw, 17, who helped design and build the school’s robot, said the challenge had tested a whole range of skills.

“That means 3D modelling the whole assembly and robot, building from a kit of parts, wiring the whole robot and manufacturing the claw and pneumatic system,” he said.

“We’ve been under a lot of pressure, but for what we’ve done – as a rookie team – it’s pretty good.”

The Armadale students leave for Sydney on March 15.