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School students descend on CQUni Mackay for inaugural Junior Robotics Competition

School students descend on CQUni Mackay for inaugural Junior Robotics Competition

Published:28 June 2018

TOP: Grace Brown and Laura Morris were among 63 students who created robots to compete in Mackay’s first Junior Robotics Competition. BELOW: CQUni Engineering student Evandri Van Zyl (centre) used her knowledge in mechatronics to mentor participants at the competition.

Hours of work during lunch breaks creating fully autonomous intelligent robots has paid off for 63 school students at the Mackay Junior Robotics Competition.

Hosted by CQUniversity Mackay School of Engineering and Technology, the event is part of RoboCupJunior Australia and designed to provide primary and secondary students with the opportunity to foster artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics research by presenting a standard problem, where a range of technologies can be integrated and examined.

Event coordinator and Mercy College Mackay teacher Sandra Bayliss says the Mackay competition attracted good numbers in its inaugural year and has promoted a variety of skills that extend across the school curriculum

“Under the guidance of mentors, the event encourages students to a take a fresh look at robots as an educational and entertaining medium that not only improves engineering and IT abilities but also builds on critical teamwork, organisational and problem-solving skills,” Ms Bayliss said.

“On a personal and professional level, it is an opportunity for young people and their mentors to network in the broader community while learning to apply newly-acquired knowledge and experiences.”

The competition required the participants to use standard EV3 or NXT robotics kits in the categories of soccer and rescue, testing the robots’ sporting and search-and-rescue skills.

With aspirations of a career in Aerospace Engineering, Year 8 Mercy College Mackay student Laura Morris had been looking forward to the competition.

“I have enjoyed coding and building our robot then seeing how differently everyone’s robots are programmed and performing,” Laura said.

“We also received tips from our mentors that were applied to our team strategy.”

The Junior Soccer challenge was won by Mercy College Mackay, with Mirani State School and Whitsunday Christian College taking out the Junior and Senior Rescue challenges, respectively.

CQUni fourth-year Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) student Evandri Van Zyl mentored and judged the participants’ robotic soccer games.

“The school students have gained hands-on experience at CQUni’s Engineering facility and received advice from both Engineering staff and students, ensuring their robots compete at peak performance," Evandri said.

“It is great to see so many young people embracing robotics and technology from an early age."

The 2019 Mackay Junior Robotics Competition will again be held in June, with numbers anticipated to be even greater with the introduction of a third challenge category of Dance.