The robots are coming back to Georgian’s Barrie Campus Athletic Centre on March 3 and 4. In the FIRST Robotics Competition, 30 robots, built and programmed by teams of Ontario high school students, compete in an epic battle that combines the excitement of a championship sporting event with the practical application of science and technology.

“Georgian is excited to host its second annual FIRST Robotics event,” said MaryLynn West-Moynes, Georgian College president and CEO. “Innovation is key to sustainability, building a healthy economy and tackling societal challenges. This competition will demonstrate that our future is in the very capable hands of the next generation of talented scientists, engineers, technologists and change makers.”

 FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), an international organization, recently announced the theme, parameters and goals for the 2018 robotics season.

FIRST Robotics Canada is thrilled to partner with Georgian College to stage the robotics competition in Barrie,” said Mark Breadner, FIRST Robotics Canada president. “This year’s robotics game, POWER UP, will not disappoint, and the students’ talents, skills, and creativity will amaze the community.”

Students have only 45 days to develop custom, 120-pound robots. They’ll work in teams to design, build, program and test their machines using a wide variety of skills like CNC machining, CAD, math, programming and welding. Under strict rules, limited resources and time restraints, teams will raise funds through community outreach, design a team brand, hone teamwork skills and create a robot that can perform the prescribed tasks against a field of competitors. It’s as close to “real-world” engineering as a student can get. Three teams from Simcoe County are among the 30 teams participating in the Georgian event.

Teams will also be judged on game points, teamwork, engineering excellence, and entrepreneurial spirit for the awards ceremony on March 4.

Georgian’s event is one of nine competitions taking place across Ontario this year. The award-winning teams will move on to provincial championships at the Hershey Centre in Mississauga in April to fight for a spot at the FRC World Championship in Detroit, Michigan.

While at Georgian, teams will be invited to explore the Barrie campus state-of-the-art robotics, electrical and computer labs. They will also make good use of machine shops, where the robots will undergo any pre- and post-battle repairs.

More than 1,000 people – students, competitors, coaches, industry leaders, and supporters – are expected to attend the event. Approximately 100 volunteers are needed to ensure the competition runs smoothly between March 2 and 4. Anyone interested in volunteering can visit FIRSTroboticscanada.org/main/volunteer.

In the photo, the 2017 FIRST Robotics competition at Georgian College drew a packed crowd.