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Love of technology keeps Mechatronics students on track for Skills Ontario

Nicholas Rahmon, Biz/Tech Reporter

On a cold Monday, the Barrett Centre of Technology held nine of Humber’s electromechanical engineering students with an overall focus on one thing: “the trials.”

“I used to be a skills competitor for the Mechatronics team while I was attending Humber and now as alumni, I’ve returned as an assistant coach under Mauricio [Zangali Toigo] and I’m now teaching the next generation of competitors in mainly controls programming,” said Avery Bird , an Humber Alumni of Electromechanical Engineering Technology.

The Mechatronics trials, an annual event which combines elements of mechanical engineering and electronics, is the first level towards reaching the World Skills Competition. Humber’s Bogdan Malynovskyy and Mateusz Cwalinski came in fourth in last year’s global contest in Kazan, Russia.

Humber’s technology students will attend the trials in February where they’ll compete in teams of two with tools, laptops, and their controller for the first and second place teams to attend the Ontario Skills Competition.

Humber alumni and WorldSkills bronze champion Avery Bird helps students prepare for the 2020 Mechatronics trials beginning next month. (Nicholas Rahmon)

“They’re given documentation and a bunch of mechanical parts where teams race against each other to finish a system faster and to a higher degree than other teams,” Bird said.

Despite the trials being a first for Electromechanical Engineering students, including Nickolas De Boer, love for technology and positive attitudes are powerful motivators.

“Before going to college, I was on a high school robotics team for six years or so and I realized that’s what I wanted to do and came to Humber for automation and robotics,” De Boer said.

“From there, I joined the skills team as it furthered our studies and gave us skills we wouldn’t learn in the course until later,” he said. “We also have the privilege of having all this equipment to train with.”

Mechatronics coach Zangali Toigo is looking to inspire the next group of technology students towards more gold medals.

“I’ve been in this position for some time, almost two and a half years of training teams,” he said. “I started with Avery [Bird] and Theo [Willert]. They were the first team I coached. They got bronze at the World Skills Competition in Abu Dhabi in 2017, our biggest accomplishment.”

Humber has been participating in the Ontario Skills Competition for more than 15 years and in that time, they’ve won 14 gold medals.

Because of this, alumni Bird and Wesley Juan are here to help teach the group of students, on their free time, the skills required for the competition.

“The best advice I could give to future students would be to keep practicing, focus on what you’re not good at and improve on it, and to succeed, you need to be strong in all areas,” Bird said.

The trials will take place on Feb. 20 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., on the first floor of the Barrett CTI.

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