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Connor MacLean

Six out of this world FIRST Robotics experiencesApril 6, 2019

More than 1,000 students, volunteers, parents and sponsors descended on McMaster this weekend for the FIRST Robotics Canada District Competition.

We are transferring to orbiter internal power. Discovery is running off its onboard fuel cells. T-minus 10 seconds to lift off.

Nine. Eight. Seven. Six. Go for main engines start. Main engines start. Two. One.

This was the Faculty of Engineering's third time hosting FIRST Robotics Canada District Competition, one of Canada's premier science, technology and engineering competitions for high school students. This year, the Destination: Deep Space event drew more than 1,000 competitors, parents, volunteers and sponsors to McMaster from April 5 to 7, where some of the best and brightest young minds in Ontario put their robots to the test.

In Destination: Deep Space, presented by the Boeing Company, two competing alliances collected samples on planet Primus. Unpredictable terrain and weather patterns made remote robot operation essential to their mission on the planet. Each team's goal? To gather as many cargo pods as possible and prepare spaceships before the next sandstorm.

Angela Tollis, Grade 12 student attending McMaster Engineering in Fall 2019 and recipient of the $15,000 ArcelorMittal Dofasco FIRST Robotics Entrance Scholarship 2019
Role at FIRST: Volunteer

"One of my friends pushed me to join the [FIRST Robotics] team and the first thing I saw when I walked in was how accepting people were. I'm excited to come to McMaster because I look up to a lot of people that come to this university. Being in FIRST Robotics, I've met a lot of engineers, which I didn't really have growing up to look up to... A big motivator for me has been Girls in STEM and equality. Being on my FIRST team, I remember in my Grade 10 year, I was one out of three girls on a 28-member team, so that became a really big priority for me... I hope to go back and mentor while I'm in university."

Adam Tosti, Engineering 1 student and recipient of the $15,000 ArcelorMittal Dofasco FIRST Robotics Entrance Scholarship 2018
Role at FIRST: Volunteer and mentor

"FIRST Robotics is an opportunity to solve problems with a great group of people, build great friends and be introduced to the engineering and problem-solving experience at a young age. It's great that they're [kids] excited about robotics and the STEM field. A lot of high schools, especially mine, had a big focus on sports in the past. Technology didn't get a big say. Now that they're getting excited, it's getting a lot more ground."

Angela Chiarelli, Grade 11 and 12 Math and English teacher at St. Thomas More Catholic Secondary School (Morebotics, Team 7623)
Role at FIRST: Mentor

Angela Chiarelli.

"My goal in being a mentor is to get students involved and excited about STEM, especially young girls. Currently, our team is made up of approximately 40 per cent girls. We hope to see this number soar in the years to come."

JD Herlehy, Grade 12 student at Manitoulin Secondary School (Manitoulin Metal, Team 6865)
Role at FIRST: Participant

"FIRST Robotics has been really fun. Every time I step into the robotics team at my school, it's a different mindset. At McMaster, the most exciting thing is the friendliness of people. I don't want to go into a cliché story of taking things apart, but that is kind of how it is. I just like to build things, make things possible, turn an idea into a reality and be able to say, 'Okay, this is a problem I have right now, this is how I'm going to get it done, and these are the steps I'm going to take.' It's really broadened my problem-solving skills."

Areeba Aziz, third-year Computer Engineering student
Role at FIRST: Volunteer

"I was in FIRST Robotics in high school for three years. It introduced me to Engineering... It's really exciting for me to see young students get excited about FIRST Robotics because we always see students participate and get excited about sports and cheer for their teams, but this is something completely different, but they still have the same excitement because they made the robot all by themselves."

Megan Wood, Electrical Engineering graduate student and manager for the McMaster Engineering EcoCAR Challenge
Role at FIRST: Volunteer

Megan Wood.

"It's important for people to get excited about engineering from a young age. FIRST Robotics is an introduction for a lot of kids and shows them how much engineering touches our lives. I volunteered this weekend with my team from EcoCAR because I want to help inspire the next generation."