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Villanova’s robotics team in Texas for world championships


Students compete in robotics competition

The Villy WiredCats are wired and ready for the FIRST World Championships.

The robotics team from St. Thomas of Villanova Catholic Secondary School are in Houston, Texas this week to participate in the FIRST Worlds, marking the school’s return after seven years.


The WiredCats have almost 50 team members this year with Michael Dunne, Celeste Deschamps and Jack Frias telling the River Town Times they are excited to attend this year.


Dunne stated there are approximately 10,000 FIRST robotics teams worldwide and 250 in Canada. Of the 150 Canadian teams, 20 of them get to go to the worlds and Villanova is once again one of them.


About 800 teams from around the world will meet in Houston with the competition running today (April 17) through Saturday. Robotics is considered the “sport of the mind” and FIRST is a global robotics community that prepares young people for the future and advancing STEM education.


The Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board (WECDSB) confirmed the team from Villanova was the only WECDSB school to advance to the world championships.


Deschamps said the WiredCats have a lot of new members this year with Dunne adding that while they didn’t do as well as they wanted last year, they bounced back this year with a team that has been engaged all year.


“So many hours of work go into it,” said Frias. “It’s a huge collaboration. Everyone works together. Every student had equal contributions to this.”



Students prepare their robot for competition.

Frias added they have worked daily on their robot whether it be at meetings after school or at points during the school day when time permits.


Dunne added without everyone working together, the WiredCats wouldn’t have achieved what they have thus far. Community outreach was also big for the team this year, as they went into local elementary feeder schools to assist with their STEM programs and Frias added they also helped with First Lego League (FLL) teams. Deschamps added they also went to the John McGivney Centre in Windsor as part of their outreach.


The team thanks its sponsors and Dunne noted “it’s a very expensive project. Without them, we wouldn’t be able to compete.” Deschamps pointed out some of the companies sponsoring them have professional engineers that also act as mentors.


Deschamps was also happy they have 38 per cent of the team being girls. She said that percentage has grown dramatically this year.


The WiredCats started their season at the District North Bay event held March 22-24, where they were placed 15th out of 32 teams and won the Jack Kamen Imagery Award for combining engineering excellence and outstanding visual aesthetics of machine and team integration. 


They competed at the Windsor-Essex Great Lakes District Event March 28-30 where they placed ninth of 31 teams and qualified for the provincial finals.


During the provincial finals held April 5-8, the team competed against the best 100 teams in Ontario. The WiredCats won 9 of their 12 exhibition matches and were ranked fourth out of the 50 teams in their division at the end of qualification matches, ultimately finishing in 22nd place and secured their trip to Worlds.



The tasks assigned to the robots this year was a form of “disc golf for robots,” said Deschamps. There was also a music theme to this year’s competitions where the robots have to shoot discs into baskets resembling amplifiers, speakers and notes.


Dunne stated being part of the robotics team at Villanova has led the Grade 12 student to seek engineering as a career path. Deschamps is in Grade 11 and Frias is in Grade 10 and both will be returning next year to try and build on what they have done.


Deschamps said there were many subcommittees from actually building the robot to marketing what they were doing and everyone worked like “a well-oiled machine.”


The WiredCats hope to win the imagery award at worlds, something Villanova has won three times in the past. The team plans on posting to its Instagram and Facebook accounts during the competition to keep people informed on how they are doing.


For more information on the Villanova robotics team, visit www.wiredcats5885.ca.

Villanova’s robotics team in Texas for world championships

By Ron Giofu

 

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