Valentine’s Day means spending time with people you care about and doing something you love.
Which is why high school students from around the Okanagan and the Lower Mainland spent the morning in Kelowna finishing up last minute coding and patching up their robots before letting their creations get onto the field to battle it out with other robots for the 14th Western Canada RoboCup Games.
Okanagan College electronic engineering professor Nadir Ould-Khessal said this year had two challenges: soccer and rescue.
Two fields were set up for soccer where teams used their autonomous robots to score against each other. A third field was set up as a “disaster area” where students’ robots had to overcome obstacles and simulate a rescue.
The competition is quite a big deal because according to Ould-Khessal, winning the Western Canada cup means going to international competitions.
“We are part of the international RoboCup federation … so the teams that win these games are eligible to participate in the international RoboCup federation,” he said.
“Last year, we sent three teams to Sydney – two teams for the soccer challenge and one team in the rescue challenge. The soccer challenge teams, they were placed third internationally.”
Ould-Khessal added that after Friday’s games, the winning teams could get the chance to participate in the world championships in France this coming June.
Participants had various experience levels, with some students coming in for their first tournament and others for their third year.
A team of students from Blended and Online Learning in Kelowna built and programmed robots for the soccer challenge, which they said was going well so far.
Amelia Stokes is one of the team members. She said they placed fifth in last year’s rescue challenge, but she was still satisfied.
“It was nerve-wracking but I was pretty proud of what we did even though we didn’t really place. I was proud of how we showed up,” she said.
“We put a lot of work in, a lot of time and a lot of energy, and I thought it was a really great experience.”
The students don’t all want to be in STEM when they grow up, but they said the experience was important especially in today’s technologically advanced environment.
“It’s a must now to be able to use a computer and even program. In engineering and even other industries sometimes, you have to be able to do those things,” Stokes said.