Baker ‘bot beats best at B.C. bout

Mount Baker Secondary students have won medals in robotics, mechanical drafting at a provincial contest

Left to right: Mt. Baker teacher Bill Walker

Left to right: Mt. Baker teacher Bill Walker

Four Mount Baker Secondary students have won medals for robotics and mechanical drafting at the Skills BC Competition.

Edmond Yoo, Derek Johnson and Landon Harvey won a gold medal for robotics, and Simon Eaton won a silver medal for mechanical CADD drafting at the competition in Abbotsford on April 17.

Electronics teacher Bill Walker said he’s very proud of his students, who will now represent B.C. at the national skills competition in Vancouver from June 5 to 8.

“We’re going to the nationals, as long as we can get enough money to go,” said Walker. “We’re hoping to go there and bring back another gold.”

The students have been working on their robot since the first week of the new school year.

“It would be hundreds of hours,” said Walker. “You get really attached to the robot, building it and making it better.”

In the competition, the robot must complete a task more effectively than a competing robot, Walker explained.

“It’s basically a radio-controlled forklift. It picks up pallets, it has to drive over an obstacle course, then it has to deliver them into a rack. There’s another robot going against you. You get more points for more of these pallets you have in a row, either horizontally, vertically or diagonally,” said Walker.

“While it can do the same task, a lot of the robots were very different looking. They are all built from scratch. Most robots didn’t look like any other robot; it depended on the kids’ imagination – how it was going to look and how it was going to perform the task.”

It’s the third time electronics students have competed in the Skills BC competition, and the second medal won. Last year, Mount Baker students received a silver medal.

“We’ve participated three times now, and in the three years we’ve won a silver and a gold. That’s not bad,” said Walker.

“It’s not easy to build a robot that can even get into the competition, let alone win it. It’s very tough.”

Meanwhile, drafting student Simon Eaton won a silver medal for mechanical CADD drafting at the competition.

“They were given a photograph of some sort of a cart to move machinery on. They were given the photograph and they had to draw the plans for it working from that photograph,” said teacher Paul Knipe.

It’s a skill an engineer is likely to need in the workforce, Knipe explained.

“Often they would be given an existing product and they would have to make modifications and improvements to it. That particular type of assignment is pretty real world; it’s pretty common.”

The award will look good on Eaton’s resume, and was a valuable experience.

“It gave him a chance to work on some of his CADD skills and also how to put things together from a design perspective,” said Knipe.

Mount Baker Secondary School has been participating in the Skills Canada competition since the mid-1990s and has won medals in categories as diverse as carpentry, cabinet making, desktop publishing and culinary arts.

Three of the medal winners were enrolled in College of the Rockies’ Engineering Graphics course as dual credit students. Dual credit allows secondary students to apply for eligibility to receive both secondary school and post-secondary credits for College courses.

College of the Rockies’ Regional Transitions Coordinator, Brian Conrad said, “The partnership agreement between the School District and College of the Rockies has been a definite asset for these students. This program, combined with their hard work and the dedicated support of their teachers, Bill Walker and Paul Knipe, contributed to their tremendous success. We congratulate them all.”

To learn about dual credit courses at College of the Rockies, go to: www.cotr.bc.ca/DualCredit. To learn more about the Engineering certificate program go to: www.cotr.bc.ca/university.