Game on! Students lean on Hatch mentors to build autonomous throwing-and climbing-capable robots
High-school students across North America are teaming up with technology companies to design, build, and program their own robots. Hatch, alongside clients like Bruce Power and Ontario Power Generation, is sponsoring the FIRST Robotics Competition this January, partnering with student teams to donate funding, provide technical insights, and above all, drive mentorship.
The competition is being run by FIRST Robotics, a registered charity and volunteer-run organization. FIRST Robotics seeks to inspire young people to pursue further studies and careers in the fields of science, technology, and engineering.
“Part of the program places a high level of importance on learning from mentors, where students can work side-by-side with experienced professionals who donate their time to help them develop in STEM fields,” says Mark Breadner, executive director of FIRST Robotics Canada. “We’re hoping to inspire students to consider pursuing a career at Hatch one day.”
The North American Space Agency is a key partner of the program. On January 7th it announced the “game,” in which students will use their robots to meet challenges and compete for a winning title.
Hatch experts will meet with teams representing five high schools in the Greater Toronto Area over the next few weeks, leading up to the final build day on February 21st. These first weeks are crucial as the students design their robot to meet the game’s unique challenges. The cost, height, weight, motors, and batteries used are restricted to ensure fair competition. The robots must operate both autonomously and by remote control for part of the game.
“It’s as close to ‘real-world engineering’ as a student can get,” explains David Chataway, one of two young professionals at Hatch who is organizing the company’s involvement. Both Chataway and his co-organizer, Alex Wigle, participated in the competition as students. They now hold full-time engineer-in-training roles at Hatch.
Six regional competitions will be held across Ontario during March and April, followed by a District Championship on April 15th. Hatch sponsored teams will attend the events in order to compete and advance onto the world championship. Over 85,000 high-school students in approximately 3,400 teams are participating around the world for 2017.
“For decades, we have inspired innovation and encouraged an entrepreneurial spirit in the industry,” adds Joe Lombard, Hatch’s global managing director of metals. “Part of this is understanding the importance of mentorship and the impact it has on helping to develop tomorrow’s innovators and leaders.”