It’s not every day that you get a Canadian astronaut to take a look at your work.
On Saturday, a few lucky students got to meet David Saint-Jacques and explain what they created.
“To have the opportunity to talk to someone like that and to show what we did, it feels great,” said participant Ruby Novoa Forcier, 18.
Saint-Jacques’ visit was part of the Robotics FIRST (Favoriser l’Inspiration et la Reconnaissance des Sciences et de la Technologie) Quebec competition.
Around 5,000 students from different schools across Quebec, the United States and Europe got the chance to compete at the event.
Students aged 6 to 18 built their own robots and then faced off against one another.
“The competition is big — there’s a lot of money going into it, there’s a lot of technology,” said Thomas Bouchard, 17.
While they battled, Saint-Jacques, who is both an engineer and a doctor, dropped in to cheer them on.
“This is so exciting,” he said. “To see kids so motivated to build something real — it’s all about teamwork and ingenuity. I really love it.”
Saint-Jacques, who will be flying to the International Space Station in November, says robotics is a big part of Canada’s space industry and competitions like Robotics FIRST help fuel the minds of the next generation.
“The next project, we’re talking about going back to the Moon, to Mars, and it will all involve robotics to some extent,” he said.”Canada has to be front and center in all that. We lead the world right now in space robotics.”
Saint-Jacques will become the ninth Canadian to go to space.