Allan Parks

A-Team Robotics take part in FIRST Robotics’ Ryerson District Event



By Ron Giofu


A-Team Robotics didn’t get the result they were looking for in Toronto the weekend of March 15-17, but are still making progress.

The robotics team, also known as Team 6544, took part in the FIRST Robotics Ryerson District Event at the Mattamy Athletic Centre, which is located inside the former Maple Leaf Gardens and operated by Ryerson University.

“There were 37 teams,” explained Allan Parks, who is one of the coaches and mentors. “We finished 16th in qualifying matches. We were quite happy with that. We made it into the quarterfinals but we didn’t get past the quarterfinals.”

Each team had to bring their newly-created robot to the event and do the tasks as directed in this year’s challenge. FIRST Robotics’ challenge this year is entitled “Power Up” and includes tasks involving a scale, a switch and climbing.

The theme is a take-off of the old 1980’s-style video games, Parks stated.

A-Team Robotics participated in the FIRST Robotics Ryerson District Event last Thursday through Saturday in Toronto. The team was eliminated in the quarterfinals. The team, which is based out of the Centreline plant on Alma St., is always welcoming new sponsors. People can visit for more information. (Submitted photo)

The scale challenge involved having the robot keeping enough weight on the team’s side of the scale than that of the opposing team. The scale varies from being four to seven-feet off the ground. The switch is a similar concept only it was not as high off of the ground.

The climb had to see the robot get at least 16-inches off of the ground.

“Every year in January, they release a new challenge,” said Parks, adding that each team had six weeks to build and program a new robot to complete the challenges.

“The kids got to be in downtown Toronto and even that was a great experience,” Parks said of the most recent competition.

A-Team Robotics has 18 members this year, which is double of what the team had last year in its inaugural season. Parks said they are mainly Grade 9 and 10 students with a Grade 12 student as well. The students are all from General Amherst High School, and though no formal affiliation exists currently, the school is helping out in certain areas and a relationship is growing.

Despite being in their second season, A-Team Robotics is performing well.

“When we rated ourselves against the other robots, we still look like a more seasoned team,” he said. “Our kids are learning and gaining a lot of value through this.”

The next competition for A-Team Robotics will be Easter Weekend in Windsor.

If any person or company wishes to sponsor the A-Team Robotics group, they can visit for more information.


Local robotics team wins top honours at weekend competition



By Ron Giofu


A-Team Robotics did an A-1 job on the weekend.

The local robotics team won the top overall prize at the FIRST Southwest International robotics competition held at Sandwich Secondary School. Allan Parks, one of the team’s coaches and mentors, said they took the top prize out of the 22 teams that attended.

“It was a good day,” he said. “The team did very well.”

The competition saw robots have to do similar tasks as last season, including putting balls in hoppers, gears on pegs and climbing a rope. It was a pre-season competition with the new season getting underway Jan. 1.

Parks said the robot underwent some modifications since the last time they competed.

“Those modifications the team made proved successful,” said Parks.

The team had about ten members last year and now has grown to 21 members. There are a lot of Grade 9 participants but some in other grades as well. They are all General Amherst High School students with the school itself becoming involved with the team on a more consistent basis.

“Word is spreading and the interest is coming,” said Parks.

A-Team Robotics won the FIRST Southwest International robotics competition over the weekend at Sandwich Secondary School. The Amherstburg team works out of Centreline, located on Alma St. (Submitted photo)

Wanda Coull de Bont, another coach and mentor, said the win was “pretty important because we haven’t won yet.” She said the pre-season event was to showcase the team to its new members and show what goes into a competition. New members got a chance to participate in various different ways.

“It made us feel all of our hard work paid off,” said Coull de Bont.

“It showed new members what competitions will be like even though it was at a slower pace,” said team member Ryan Harris.

Max Beadow said they won’t get “rookie points” this season so the robot has to be built well, though Parks pointed out they want to have two robots this season – one for competitions and another to practise on.

Beadow added it feels good the school is taking a greater interest and hopes it will expose the team to potential new members.

“We’re just excited for the new season. With new members, we’re ready to learn and have some fun,” he said, noting they don’t know the new challenges yet for the upcoming season. “Robotics is a big part of my life.”

Adam Tronchin said it was a good experience to win, even if it was a pre-season event.

“It was a good experience and lots of fun,” he said.

Tronchin added “it’s really good to be integrated into the school” and hopes that if that continues, it can help A-Team Robotics attract new members and sponsors.

Three more awards nabbed by A-Team Robotics



By Ron Giofu


A-Team Robotics is still classified as a rookie team in the FIRST robotics league, but they still keep piling up awards.

After winning the Rookie All-Star award at the Durham College event in early March, the local robotics team captured three more at the recent FIRST Windsor-Essex Great Lakes Event at the University of Windsor.

A-Team Robotics brought home the Rookie Inspiration Award, which celebrates a rookie team for outstanding success in advancing respect and appreciation for engineering and engineers in their community. They also captured the Industrial Design Award, which “celebrates form and function in an efficiently designed machine that effectively addresses the game challenge.”

The third award was the Highest Rookie Seed Award, with that award recognizing the highest seeded rookie team at the end of the qualifying rounds.

“This is a really good group of kids. They showed maturity beyond their years,” said Dan Paquette, one of the coaches and mentors with A-Team Robotics. “As mentors, we don’t have to do a lot with the kids, which is nice. It’s amazing how much they are capable of doing.”
The robot was the same as in the Durham College Event in Oshawa and had to perform the same tasks as well. Paquette said they had to make some changes and upgrades with the robot performing better at the Great Lakes Event.

A-Team Robotics won three awards at the recent FIRST Windsor-Essex Great Lakes Event at the University of Windsor. Their home base is the Centreline facility located in part of the former SKD building.

A-Team Robotics won three awards at the recent FIRST Windsor-Essex Great Lakes Event at the University of Windsor. Their home base is the Centreline facility located in part of the former SKD building.

“We got a lot of comments from people at the competition that our team doesn’t show that it’s a rookie team,” said Paquette. “It’s a big compliment for all of the kids. A small part of it is the mentors but a bigger part of it is the kids.”

The top 60 teams in Ontario make it to the provincial championship in Mississauga and A-Team Robotics hopes to make it. Paquette said they don’t have a big team, but it has received a lot of support from the Amherstburg community and that has helped make this season rewarding.

Wanda Coull Debont, another of the coach/mentors with the robotics team, was thrilled with how they performed.

“They did fantastic,” she said. “We learned more at the second competition than at the first competition. Even so, there is still so much more to learn.”

The more A-Team Robotics competes, the more they learn and “that is the best part of the competitions,” Coull de Bont stated.

“I’m so proud.”

Coull de Bont added they were hoping for the Rookie Inspiration award but as team member Justin de Bont stated, “we came home with all three.”

Justin said they are “pretty proud” and said they didn’t compete as if they were a rookie team, but more as a veteran team.

All of the members of the team are Grade 9 students.

They thanked the sponsors, which include Bornais Insurance, Romano’s, Bank of Montreal, Windsor Family Credit Union, Fort Malden Dentistry, Dr. Lovell Chiropractic, Sobeys and Ambiance Hair Design.

“None of this would be possible without the sponsors,” said Justin.

Ryan Harris and Justin Bornais were also pleased with the team’s performance at the Windsor-Essex Great Lakes Event. Harris said they were “very happy” to get one award but “shocked that we got three.

“We were only hoping to get the Rookie Inspiration Award.”

Harris joked that his family remarked that he “couldn’t get down there fast enough” when the team went up to accept their awards.

Bornais agreed, stating getting called up once was good but getting the call two more times was a lot better. Whether they make provincials or not and regardless of how they do if they get there, Bornais added the knowledge they have gained along the way won’t disappear.

“I feel happy we made it this far,” added Harris, believing they can use their experiences to attract new members next season.

“It’s just the beginning for this team,” he said.

Bornais said they couldn’t have done what they have done without their sponsors or mentors and robotics has changed the way he feels about his future.

“I’m starting to like it more than I thought I would,” he said.

Other team members include Adam Tronchin, Cassidy Zelle, Max Beadow, Mackenzie Parks, Kurtis Paquette and Devin Paquette. Coaches and mentors also include Allan Parks, Jeremie Bornais and Ludi de Bont.

For more information on A-Team Robotics, visit their website They can be found on social media as well, with their Twitter account being @a_robotics, their Facebook page being and their Instagram account, which is a_team_robotics.

A-Team Robotics wins award at Durham College event



By Ron Giofu


The newly formed A-Team Robotics group has managed to pick up a major award in their first year together.

The robotics team, which meets at Centreline’s plant within the former SKD building, captured the Rookie All-Star award at FIRST Robotics’ Durham College event earlier this month. The robot that A-Team Robotics had to construct had to perform three tasks, with those tasks including climbing a four-foot rope, put a gear on a peg and put balls into various chutes.

Allan Parks, one of the coaches and mentors to the team, said the project all competitors had to work on was released Jan. 7. The teams had the same parameters and budget in which to work from but each team could devise how they would create their robot to meet the parameters.

The A-Team Robotics group won the Rookie All-Star award at the recent Durham College event. The team is based out of Centreline’s Amherstburg facility, located in the former SKAD building. (Special to the RTT)

The A-Team Robotics group won the Rookie All-Star award at the recent Durham College event. The team is based out of Centreline’s Amherstburg facility, located in the former SKAD building. (Special to the RTT)

The team is still fairly new, having only been created in October. Parks said most of the team is in Grade 9 and thought General Amherst High School would have its own team. When that fell through, A-Team Robotics was formed.

“When the school couldn’t commit to a team,” said Parks, “I decided to start a team myself.”

Centreline offered to let the team use part of their Amherstburg facility and the team meets there Monday, Wednesday and Friday evenings as well as on Saturdays. That increases to seven days per week as competitions near.

The Durham College Event was the A-Team’s first big competition but not their last.

“The kids did amazingly well,” said Parks.

Parks said the team didn’t act as if it were a first year team as everyone they encountered in Oshawa thought they were experienced competitors.

“I was blown away by the maturity of this young team,” added coach/mentor Jeremie Bornais.

Bornais added he was impressed by the leadership of the mentors as well and also acknowledged the support of the community.

“It shows the support we have in Amherstburg and as a group,” said Bornais.

Comments heard at the Durham College event were that the team’s maturity outweighed their years, Bornais added.

Parks added the teams help each other out at FIRST Robotics events and it was no different for the A-Team Robotics group, as they assisted other teams as well.

The team had a budget of roughly $24,000 for the competition and they helped fund themselves by obtaining sponsorships. In addition to building the robot, they have to create a business plan and help market themselves through social media.

Parks believes robotics gives kids a head start in life as they learn about design, business, social media, technology and trades. They do everything from machining their own tools to writing the Java codes to run the robot.

“A lot of kids were starting from square one,” said Parks. “It’s giving them the skills they can use later in life.”
Parks said the students can compete for the jobs of tomorrow with the skills they are learning today and that robotics teams gives them real world experience at an early age.

The team currently has nine members “which is small by most team’s standards,” said Parks.

“We started from scratch,” he added, noting all but one of them is in Grade 9.

Members of A-Team Robotics work on their robot during the FIRST Durham College event held recently in Oshawa.

Members of A-Team Robotics work on their robot during the FIRST Durham College event held recently in Oshawa. (Submitted photo)

Team members include Adam Tronchin, Cassidy Zelle, Justin Bornais, Justin De Bont, Max Beadow, Mackenzie Parks, Kurtis Paquette, Ryan Harris and Devin Paquette. Coaches and mentors, other than Parks and Bornais, include Dan Paquette, Wanda Coull de Bont and Ludi de Bont.

“It feels good,” Tronchin said about winning the award. “We worked hard to win it.”

“I think we actually placed really well for a rookie team,” said Zelle.

Harris said he helped drive the robot and admitted he was nervous before doing it but the nerves wore off as he drove the robot in the competition. He added he was excited at the end of each round.

Tronchin pointed out they are learning skills for jobs down the road with Harris agreeing. Harris added the leadership from the mentors proved to be valuable as well.

“I really just enjoy everything I do. It’s a lot of fun,” added Zelle. “The people are great. You just have a great time.”

Justin Bornais said he didn’t know what some of the tools were beforehand and now has learned to use them. He said the experience on the robotics team has really been worth it.

“I really think new people would enjoy robotics as much as I do,” said Justin, adding they owe a lot to the sponsors, mentors and Centreline.

“The commitment is worth it,” added Harris.

Zelle said she enjoys coming to robotics and looks forward to coming.

“I always enjoy coming here and I want to come back,” she said.

The team competes next at the Windsor-Essex Great Lakes Event at the University of Windsor March 30-April 1. They hope to make it to the Ontario Championships, which will be April 12-15.

For more information on A-Team Robotics, visit their website They can be found on social media as well, with their Twitter account being @a_robotics, their Facebook page being and their Instagram account, which is a_team_robotics.