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.
“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 a-teamrobotics.com. They can be found on social media as well, with their Twitter account being @a_robotics, their Facebook page being email@example.com and their Instagram account, which is a_team_robotics.