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Students from the McWilliams Innovation Centre will be competing at the 3rd Annual Sumobot competition on March 6 with some new technology, thanks to a $5000 donation from wtfast. wtfast is a local technology company focused in the on-line gaming industry and employs over 20 staff both locally and internationally.

This year, more than 250 students from local schools will be competing for top spots in Sumobot. Sumobot wrestling is where two robots battle in an elevated circular ring, with the winner being declared after one is pushed out of the ring. Students design, build and program their robots independently having to meet specific size and weight restrictions. The robots are programmed to run autonomously with no external remote controls used.

Four teams from the McWilliams Innovation Centre, a small inquiry based SD23 school will be participating in this year’s event. “We are very grateful for the donation that wtfast has granted our school’s robotics program." says August Beetlestone, the head robotics instructor at McWilliam’s Innovation Centre. "It has allowed us to replace our older, outdated robotics equipment that we have been using. Our students now have a more enriched learning experience and the opportunity to work with the best and most up-to-date technology.”

Since 2011, the robotics students at McWilliams Innovation Centre have collected over 25 trophies, placing 1st through 3rd in Western Canada. They have been learning how to computer program, design, and build various robotic creations for the purpose of competition. These competitions include Search and Rescue, Soccer, Sumobot, and theme based mini-challenges through Skills Canada.

"In 2016, a small team from our school travelled to Leipzig, Germany to compete at the World RoboCup Championships. This is the largest annual competition worldwide. Our middle school students competed in Search and Rescue with one of our teams placing 9th in individual team challenge, and 7th in the combined team challenge. For our first international experience, I'd say the teams did very well," recounts Beetlestone.

Through these experiences, students learn to work in highly collaborative environments, developing solutions to a wide variety of real life simulations.

"It's interesting. This is the first generation of students exposed to technologies once reserved for graduate students in university. Who knows where these students' skills and technological literacy will be by the time they are in university." Quips Beetlestone. "With the continued advances in technology and the medical sciences, I think we will see a day in the near future where artificial robotic limbs will look and feel natural for people who have lost a limb due to an accident, and wheel chairs will become things of the past as robotic exoskeletons are developed to help give people back their full mobility. If anyone is going to help get us there, it will be this next generation who has been given a head start in these fields,” says Beetlestone.

About wtfast

wtfast is the Gamers Private Network (GPN) – a global network built exclusively for the transmission and delivery of online game data. Launched in 2009, the wtfast GPN was designed exclusively for gamers and the eSports market. With six patents granted and partners including HiNet, a subsidiary of Chunghwa Telecom in Taiwan, Singtel in Singapore, ASUS and MSI, wtfast protects against packet loss and improves ping times, saving seconds; which can mean the difference between winning and losing in the gaming world. With advisors including Nolan Bushnell (Atari), Emil Mouhanna (AWS), Jens Hilgers (ESL/BITKRAFT), and Dima Polyak (Riot Games, Super League Gaming), wtfast is committed to providing the best connection for gamers worldwide.

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