Patrick Simpson, Biz/Tech Reporter
Humber College and FIRST Robotics worked together to organize a 32-team robotics event for high-school students over the weekend.
Teams faced off for the chance to win fame and scholarships. Of those teams, three were directly sponsored by the college.
Team Techtronix, which consists of teens in the African Canadian Christian Network group in Toronto, is one of those supported groups.
Humber has been sponsoring the ACCN’s robotics team for the past year.
Cherryl Lewis, executive director of the ACCN as well as one of the lead mentors, said without Humber’s funding they wouldn’t have a place to get together and build their robot.
“We were so very grateful that Humber took us under their wings, so we had a place to build because we didn’t have a place to build because we are not affiliated with one school,” she said.
“We have kids coming from most of the city from Peel, from Durham, from Toronto, from York and we don’t have a place so we are really truly grateful to Humber to say come, you can build here,” Lewis said.
Along with giving the group a place to construct their robot, the college also set up the ACCN with an instructor to help teach the kids coding and building skills.
The skills can go a long way to helping young teens with building the confidence to succeed in engineering based fields.
“I think now that I actually got first hand experiences I understand more what it’s like to actually do it,” said Olind Rundassa, an ACCN robotics team Techtronix team member.
“Before I thought that robotics was too far advanced and many people think that in only six weeks you can’t do much but really when you put the hard work into it, and you have other people with you, it really boosts your confidence and you actually get things done,” he said.
Humber College manager of community projects Lynn VanLieshout said the college has been sponsoring the North Albion Collegiate Institute (NACI) team for just over three years. The college has given the team $5,000 to participate in various robotic competitions as well as help fund their science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) based outreach program, she said.
The link with Humber closes the gap between ability and capability, said
Donna Lim, the lead mentor for NACI Robotics.
“We feel that it’s important in this community where there are not enough STEM opportunities and we hope that in our partnership with Humber that will address some of the gaps,” Lim said.
“We do a lot of outreach in that our kids have gone to middle schools, we’ve hosted at Lego events, and we’ve done a lot of promotion and trying to support teams locally,” she said.
Sukhmen Bhatti, a member of NACI Robotics, said the team goes to other schools to try to teach other students about the benefits of STEM based programs.
“We’re trying to change that perception and say that no matter who you are, you can pursue STEM in your career,” Bhatti said.
“We try to promote STEM in our area and we try to get as many students as we can to really understand how STEM is a field that’s growing,” he said.