International robotics competition kicks off in Montreal

Click to play video: 'Quebec students test their engineering skills in robotics competition' Quebec students test their engineering skills in robotics competition
WATCH: Over 1,500 students between the ages of 14 and 18 took part in the launch of the FIRST robotics competition in Montreal Saturday in the hopes of qualifying for the international final to be held in St-Louis, Missouri in April. Navneet Pall reports – Jan 7, 2017

It may be the weekend, but thousands of teenagers ranging in age from 14- to 18-years-old, took part in the launch of the FIRST international robotics competition in Montreal.

It’s a competition organized by inventor and entrepreneur Dean Kamen to encourage science and technology among teenagers.

The Quebec launch of the competition was organized by Youth Fusion, a charity that works towards decreasing high school dropout rates.

The launch took place Saturday at the École de technologie supérieure (ETS), a technical institute in downtown Montreal, where groups from different high schools picked up their standardized tools to build a machine.

This year’s theme is “steamworks.”

Teams will have six weeks to collaborate and build a steam pump that can move itself onto an elevated platform and throw balls into a bucket.

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Groups from around the world will then go head to head, and whoever has the highest score wins.

“The atmosphere in the competition is absolutely electrifying,” said Sarah Houde, Youth Fusion’s director general. “It’s like a Stanley Cup of robots.”

The winner of the Quebec competition in late march will get a chance to earn top prize at the international stage in St. Louis, Missouri in April along 80,000 other students.

Among the Quebec high schools entering the competition is Lakeside Academy in Lachine, now participating for the fourth year.

“Most people think it’s about the robot but it really isn’t, it’s about the team,” said David Preston, a teacher and organizer at Lakeside Academy.

“We have a huge range of people here from mentors in the industry coming in to give their time, we’ve got staff giving their time. We have everybody from the nerds, if you like, to the sporty kids, to the artsy kids, because there’s a place for everybody.”

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