Campus Life  

RoboCup shines spotlight on fun and engineering technology

Okanagan College Media Release

Students from across the region had an opportunity to spend a day competing in robotics challenges as more than 40 local schools participated in the fifth annual Western Canada RoboCup Junior hosted by Okanagan College on Friday.

The opportunity to learn programming, robotics and engineering technology is one that Bruce Stevens, Regional Manager of the Applied Science Technologists and Technicians of BC (ASTTBC), wishes he’d had as a student.

Stevens took in the action on Friday, watching as swarms of students converged on the Okanagan College PIT to put their robots to the test.

“I wish this kind of event was around when I was in school,” said Stevens. “We have been supporting RoboCup and other challenges like Spaghetti Bridge for a number of years and feel it is our responsibility as an organization to help generate interest in science and engineering because we know that some of the students here today will become technologist professionals.”

ASTTBC sponsors RoboCup, which is an internationally accredited educational competition that includes teams of students ranging from Grade one to Grade 12 working in teams to develop solutions to one of three specific challenges (soccer, rescue and dance) using robots.

A record number of students signed up for the event, which drew more than 120 elementary, middle, and secondary students from schools throughout the region.

The event got underway at 10 a.m. in the College’s Pit area with the soccer and rescue challenges. In soccer, teams comprised of two autonomous mobile robots track a special light-emitting ball in an enclosed field and attempt to score goals. In search and rescue, robots follow a course, negotiate hallways of a two-storey building filled with debris and identify victims within re-created disaster scenarios.

The dance competition kicked off at 1 p.m. in the College’s lecture theatre. Teams competing in dance performed with their robots in choreographed routines set to music and were judged on a range of areas including robot programming, design, costume, use of stage and entertainment value.

Electronic Engineering Technology instructor Nadir Ould-Khessal has been involved with the International RoboCup Federation for the past 14 years both as a team leader and participant. He designed teams while teaching at Temasek Polytechnic in Singapore and later at VAASA University of Applied Science in Finland. His involvement stems from a belief that the games are an excellent way to promote learning in a challenging and creative environment.

“Every year RoboCup has gotten better and better and this year the students have improved dramatically over last year,” said Ould-Khessal. “We are at the point now where very young students are developing engineering skills and a keen interest in the field - but the best part is the fun of the challenges. The education that comes as a result of participating in this competition helps build a very strong foundation for future learning for this generation.”

Top performing students in Friday’s Western Canada competition will qualify to represent Canada in the World RoboCup Games in Turkey this July.

For more information about Western Canada RoboCup Junior, visit: www.okanagan.bc.ca/robocup. To find out more about RoboCup International, visit: www.robocup.org.

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