Sheridan College plays a supporting role at GTA West First Robotics Competition

Photo credit: NASARobonaut / Foter.com / CC BY

Photo credit: NASARobonaut / Foter.com / CC BY

For the fourth year, Sheridan College has been invited to set up the Tool Room/Repair Shop at the GTA West First Robotics Competition being held at Mississauga’s Hershey Centre on March 29 and 30.  Student teams from 42 high schools in Ontario, the US and Singapore will compete, using robots they have only ten weeks to design.

Sheridan Machine Shop

“It’s a high energy, high stakes environment,” says Michael Reid, a technologist at Sheridan’s Skills Training Centre, who runs the on-site shop that Sheridan sets up each year.  “The teams all have their own pit crews, just like in NASCAR, where they can trouble-shoot or make minor repairs in between matches. What they lack is the machinery, equipment and expertise to make bigger fixes on the fly, especially when emotions are running high.”

That’s where Sheridan steps in.  For the duration of this round-robin competition, Sheridan’s Tool Room/Repair Shop is ready to help.  “On move-in day, we’ve had students come up to us in a panic because they didn’t have the time or equipment to perfect their robots. Our first challenge is often to help them get their robots fully functioning,” explains Reid.

Photo credit: NASARobonaut / Foter.com / CC BY

Photo credit: NASARobonaut / Foter.com / CC BY

Engineering on the Fly

This year’s challenge is to build a 140-pound Frisbee-shooting, pyramid-climbing robot that can compete in high-intensity robo-sports.  “During last year’s competition, we worked on almost 500 fixes,” adds Reid.  “That included fitting bearings, welding robots in order to patch holes, taking some weight off the robots to make them faster, or reinforcing them to make them stronger. We’re open from 8 am to 9 pm every day, but the line ups usually start by 7am.”

At the ready to share their expertise this year are: Michael Reid, Roman Motyka (staff technician) Tom Gayford (Welding, Tool & Die graduate), Trevor Polehokie (Welding graduate), Rahil Raoof (former student and part time staff), Ben Rahim (graduate of Mechanical Techniques and current apprenticeship student), and Greg Chisolm (graduate of Mechanical Techniques and returning student).  “We bring a flat-bed truck worth of state-of-the-art equipment and a giant inventory of aluminum, cutting tools, and spare materials,” says Reid.

“It’s hard not to get caught up in the excitement. These kids have poured their hearts into their projects and the atmosphere is intense because the winner moves on to a world competition.  If we can offer some just-in-time-engineering to keep their dreams alive, then I’m

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