Montreal’s Uniprix Stadium is known for its grand slam tennis matches, but it recently hosted a different type of athlete, as robots descended on the courts to play high-tech basketball.
Along with the robots came their creators: high school students from across the province and beyond, participants in a robotics festival organized by local community outreach group, Youth Fusion, with the help of industry partners Bombardier and BMO Financial Group, and Montreal Hooked on School, a group dedicated to increasing student retention.
This year, Youth Fusion implemented a province-wide robotics festival as part of the international FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) organization. An immediate hit with students and teachers, the festival brought together more than 5,000 people from schools across Quebec as they competed in high-calibre technological challenges.
Founded by Concordia communications alumnus Gabriel Bran Lopez, Youth Fusion creates innovative partnerships in an effort to counter high school dropout rates. By creating links between industry partners, universities and high school students, the non-profit organization promotes student success, post-secondary education and careers in the fields of science and technology.
The formula is simple: Youth Fusion sends university students into high schools to implement projects that motivate teenagers to stay in school, and strengthen their school spirit and sense of belonging.
One of the participating schools was Louis-Joseph Papineau High School, where an enthusiastic group of students was led by Concordia mechanical engineering undergraduate, Carl Chaumont. Together, they built functional, high-quality robot named Patriotix whose primary function was playing basketball in a competition called Rebound Rumble. Each school worked intensely as they collaborated with teachers, university experts and engineers with the ultimate goal of competing at the international championship.
Chaumont’s group proved their robot was up to the challenge. In front of 3,000 spectators gathered at the Uniprix Stadium, Patriotix won his final game and was sent into the winner’s circle, which included robots from Loyola High School, Régina Assumpta College, Vitrail school and the Sherbrooke Seminary.
These five schools meet up again on April 26, 2012, when they travel to St. Louis, Missouri, to represent Quebec at the international championship, which will bring together over 22,000 students from around the world.
Robin Drew, dean of Concordia’s Faculty of Engineering and Computer Science, says he is “proud to be involved with the Quebec FIRST Robotics festival. This is a wonderful initiative that helps kindle a passion for science and engineering in young people."
Drew’s pride is echoed by Concordia’s Chancellor, L. Jacques Ménard, who was present for the tournament in his capacity as Chair of the Action Group on Student Retention and Success. He warmly told the assembled students that, "these challenges will let you demonstrate your creativity, ingeniousness and perseverance, while also creating a sense of belonging, of working toward a common goal and of pride in your schools."
• Youth Fusion
• Quebec Robotics Festival
• Concordia’s Faculty of Engineering and Computer Science
• Photos of the Robotics Festival
• Rebound Rumble video