Simbotics champs again

Simbotics are back-to-back world champions.

A team from Governor Simcoe Secondary School in St. Catharines recently captured gold at the World’s For Inspiration of Science and Technology () Robotics Competition at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.

Attending the tournament for the first time, Grade 9 student Matt admitted, “I was expecting a lot less. As soon as I walked into the dome and saw all the people, I was excited and nervous.”

Having captured gold last year, Simbotics returned with 18 students for this year’s tournament, including the robot operators, Matt and Grade 10 student Melissa.

The two simultaneously operate a robot with 14-year-old Matt controlling the base of the machine and 15-year-old Melissa operating the arms.

The coach “tells me to go and get the balls and move” to the goal, “then tells Melissa to score, then she drops the balls in,” for points, Matt said.

The annual robotics competition features high school students designing, building and then competing against other robots from around the world. This year’s tournament featured 340 schools from around the world.

Three teams are paired up against three other teams, or a blue alliance versus a red alliance. The teams select whom they want to be partnered with according to rankings.

The idea is to have your robot score as many points as possible within a window of two minutes and 15 seconds.

“The team (Simbotics) keeps all the statistics on the other teams competing so they know who they want to be paired up with,” said Greg Phillips, head of the technology department at Governor Simcoe.

This strategy may be the reason why Simbotics is “the fourth highest winning team in history since 1989,” Phillips said. “Simbotics has won close to 50 awards.”

Although the students are gunning for gold, professionalism is the model they are encouraged to practice.

“Gracious professionalism,” Melissa said. “A team from Las Vegas arrived without their robot so we gave them the parts they needed to build a robot. When they were eliminated, they gave back the parts.”

Both Matt and Melissa said they will return for next year’s championship.