AUP IT support girls and women in STEM studies and endorse the participation of women in these industries. We sponsored the St Catherine’s Girls School in the FIRST Robotics, South Pacific Regional competition held at Sydney Olympic Park over 15-17 March. The three-day competition challenges the ingenuity, grit and problem-solving skills of all the students competing.
The St Cathodes team is made up of over 20 dedicated students from Years 9–12. These students have a broad range of skills and talents and work together to complete a new challenge each year. The FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Competition is one of the major robotics competitions for high school students in the world, with over 7000 teams participating.
All teams are required to design, program and build an industrial-sized robot under strict rules, within a short time frame. On January 6, the game rules are released and the clock starts ticking, leaving only six weeks to design, build and test a robot.
This year’s game Destination Deep Space was developed in recognition of the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing in 1969.
Based on loading and securing cargo, our robot, affectionately named ‘Who’, was designed to perform two tasks during the game.
The team aimed to score points by retrieving and positioning large disk-shaped ‘hatch panels’ onto a cargo ship. They also scored points by allowing other robots in the alliance to deliver the cargo pieces – large beach ball-sized balls. Expert drivers Elisabeth Cola, Sophia Pinter, and new team member Grace Gay, were able to reliably secure the panels and consistently score points for their alliance. This required great precision maneuvering under pressure, aided by the live-feed camera.
The second system the girls designed was a deployable ramp allowing other robots to drive over the robot and on to a high platform at the end of each match. This allowed the team to score bonus points which would potentially tip each match in our alliance’s favour.
While the ramp was able to deploy reliably, many teams found it challenging to align themselves onto the ramp without being able to practice the maneuver prior to each match.
This resulted in the feature being under-utilised over the course of the competition and provided a valuable lesson into the future.
Pitted against 60 other teams from around Australia and internationally the standard of the competition was particularly high. Despite this challenge, St Cathodes managed to finish 20th out of the 60 teams at the end of the randomly assigned pool matches.
This, unfortunately, was not enough for the team to make the eight teams that continue on to compete in the final playoffs. Despite this small disappointment, the season was still highly rewarding with the girls gaining valuable experience and confidence in what they were able to achieve in robotics.
The St Cathodes maintained their enthusiasm and positivity throughout the competition and were the epitome of gracious professionalism.
AUP IT is proud of St Cathodes and we look forward to providing them professional mentoring support for the coding and software aspects of the program.