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Local teams excel in robotics competitions

By Contributor

Published 3:02 PDT, Tue April 16, 2019

We are hearing more and more that “the robots are coming.”

Many people are increasingly worried their jobs will be automated and replaced by robots.

The future of work is a hot topic these days with many debating the impacts that new technologies like artificial intelligence and robotics will have on jobs, skills and wages. Experts are warning that B.C. must invest more in STEM skills (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) in order to prepare the workforce for future jobs that haven’t been invented yet.

In the meantime, there is a huge gender gap in the current tech workforce, with only an estimated 20 per cent of the tech workforce comprising women.

Luckily, we have here in Richmond a group of amazingly smart and talented kids ages six to 18 who have decided to get ahead of the curve.

They’re not worried about their future jobs getting automated. Instead, they’re building the robots of the future. These three teams of students from across Richmond have been working hard this year with their coaches preparing for provincial robotics competitions organized by FIRST Robotics B.C., a non-profit associated with FIRST (, stands for “For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology”), an international robotics organization founded in the U.S. over 30 years ago. FIRST runs four different robotics competitions all around the world, with a participation of over 615,000 students from more than 100 countries this past year.

B.C. saw 140 teams participate this year in 11 provincial competitions. And the numbers are growing.

The Richmond Robotics teams are from Burnett Secondary, Pythagoras Academy and Daedalos Academy. The Burnett team has eight high school students competing in the FIRST Robotics Competition for Grades 10 to 12.

The Burnett team won at the provincials held in Victoria, which had B.C. Premier John Horgan as special guest. The Daedalos Academy team—Forces of the Galaxy—are in the FIRST LEGO League for ages 9 to 14 and also won at the provincials.

The six team members from a variety of schools, including three from Richmond, build robots out of LEGO Mindstorms Technic parts and motors, and must research and present this year on a solution for human space travel.

The team from Pythagoras Academy, FIRST LEGO League Junior taught by coaches from Roboplanet, are ages 6 to 10 and will be presenting a project on finding water and energy sources on the moon.

Thanks to all their hard work designing, building and coding their robots, 3D printing parts, solving complex mathematical equations and algorithms in order to perfect their robot performance, these teams have now been invited to represent B.C. and participate in the FIRST World Championships hosted in Houston Texas from April 17 to 20.

“FIRST’s mandate is to inspire tomorrow’s innovators”, says Barish Golland, FIRST Senior Mentor for B.C. “With the support of our sponsors, FIRST Robotics programs help influence, nurture and guide the best young minds to support and encourage the next generation of leaders.”

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