Local team prepares for global robotics competition

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB)- These days, you’ll find the St. Joseph’s Collegiate Institute’s ‘First Robotics’ team hard at work in their Innovation Center after school.

They’re preparing for this year’s competition; the global challenge connects students to industry experts.

“The point of the competition is to have students working with mentors, working in the field, or just as interest area to build these engineering and problem solving skills,” explains Physics teacher Patrick Wick.

Last year, the team built a robot called ‘GEAR-trude’ for First Robotics. They placed seventh out of 49 finalists in the qualifiers.

The first weekend of January, teams will be given a task.

“We have six weeks to design, build, test, program, wire, everything from scratch,” Wick tells News 4.

‘GEAR-trude’ is able to climb a rope by herself.

This will be the fourth year St. Joe’s is competing. Senior Matt Cannon is using this an opportunity to prepare to join the engineering field, something he wants to study in college.

“It sets up a network but it also gives you like a glance into the engineering world and what it’s like in that profession,” Cannon says.

“Going into it I actually had no idea what I wanted to do and then I got into robotics and it made me realize that this is awesome, this is what I want to do, so I’m hoping to go to either UB or RIT for mechanical engineering,” says junior Pat Trimper.

St. Joe’s alumni are highly involved in promoting the project and securing industry mentors.

There are five other area teams competing in the global challenge, but Wick says this team is one of the youngest.

Sophomore Andrew Van Brocklyn got into First Robotics because he likes to build things.

“I was always a fan of building legos when I was younger. I would build them must faster most others,” he says.

There’s a lot of building here, but also a lot of going back to the drawing board.

“The hardest part is though, having everything come together because you only have so much time to work on it,” Cannon tells News 4.

The team hasn’t gotten their assignment for this year yet, but if it’s anything like ‘GEAR-trude,’ they’ll be able to get creative with it.

“It’s a fun bot. It’s something that we build to go and not only go and face a challenge but to have a lot fun with it,” Trimper says of ‘GEAR-trude.’

The team’s goal is do as well if not better than they did at qualifiers last year.

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