Last week an enterprising team of 10 secondary students travelled to the Duel Down Under robotics competition held at Macquarie University. The ‘rookie’ team competed over three days with teams from all over Australia. Many of the teams are aligned with schools although, a number of them are community and university clubs that mentor robotics students for the event.  

The FIRST Robotics Competition sees students design and build robots to compete in a designated challenge. After receiving the competition rules at the beginning of January, teams construct their machine (with the help of mentors). Three robots form a randomly-assigned alliance. Drivers must negotiate with the other two teams to coordinate their machines to gain the most points in a space no bigger than an average lounge. And they have only 2.5 minutes to do it.

Iona Fusion was the Team Captain (highest ranking finish) of a ‘Blue alliance’ team and were the overall winners of this competition. They were also successful in achieving the award for Engineering Excellence in Robot Design. This award is given to the team who demonstrated strong principles of design, with a special mention of the computer-aided design and manufacturing used to produce their robot.

The skills that students learn are generally considered university level with elements of engineering, design, coding, statistical analysis and manufacturing.  While the Duel Downunder is a competition and a rather intense one at times, participants float between the pits of other teams, helping with robot repairs, lending parts or equipment and offering gameplay advice.

A huge congratulations to the following staff, students and parents that worked for several weeks (including a significant number of days over the recent break) getting a feel for real STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Maths) education.

Year 8 – Pippa Davis and Zac Morgan

Year 9 – Thomas Crundwell, Amer Al Kinani, Oscar Wallace

Year 10 – Matt Bone and Mark Al Kinani

Year 11 – Alex Reynolds (Team Captain) and Cameron Fails (Driver)

Team Mentors – Mr Warren Reynolds, Mr Justin Munro

A special thanks to the parents of these team members who supported getting students to and from school over the break and supporting at the event. It was an incredible weekend seeing everyone work together for an amazing result. Well done.