York U’s Lassonde School of Engineering to host FIRST Robotics Canada competition


TORONTO, March 22, 2018 –In a battle of the ‘robots’, York University’s Lassonde School of Engineering will host over 30 teams of high school students from across the GTA and their 120-pound robots for the FIRST Robotics Competition 2018 on March 24 - 25.

This year’s game, FIRST POWERUP, is presented by FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) – a charity encouraging kids and youth in science, technology, engineering and math. It is taking place during National Engineering Month.

With strict rules and limited resources, the student teams raise funds, design a team brand, hone teamwork skills, and build and program 120-pound robots to perform tasks. The game, which tests the rigors of science and engineering, involves two alliances of three teams each, with each team controlling a robot and performing specific tasks on a field to score points.

The game has a retro-8-bit theme and teams are required to place "power cubes" on large balancing scales to tip the scale and gain ownership. Alliances can also trade power cubes for power ups, giving them a temporary advantage in the game. At the end of the game, robots can climb the tower attached to the centre-balancing scale using a rung attached to the tower, giving them additional points.

Lassonde’s Renaissance EngineeringTM approach already helps graduates from its accredited engineering and computing programs understand the societal context of their inventions and designs.

“Using technology responsibly is more important than ever, be it as entrepreneurs, designers or future leaders”, says Professor Richard Hornsey, engineer and interim dean of the Lassonde School of Engineering. “Who is legally responsible when autonomous cars collide? Should police use Facebook posts to gather evidence? Will future classrooms be full of AI professors teaching AI students? Tomorrow’s design decisions are not just technological, they are Renaissance.”

This year, the Lassonde School of Engineering is partnering with FIRST Robotics Canada to bring to Canada the first 50:50 gender balanced robotics competition for over 1,000 high school students. The renowned all-girls robotics team from Afghanistan was also invited to Canada this year to compete.

“Research tells us that diversity drives innovation”, says Marisa Sterling, engineer and assistant dean, inclusivity and diversity, Lassonde School of Engineering. “We want young women to bring their full abilities forward to spark the new ideas Canada needs to steward the fields of technology and engineering. By providing students a gender balanced environment where the combination of students, judges, volunteers and staff are 50% female, the women at this competition will no longer feel in the minority but instead will feel included and welcome.”

Lassonde was the first school in Canada to launch a goal of achieving gender parity in engineering and science – an initiative known as the Lassonde 50:50 Challenge.

“The BEST (Bergeron Entrepreneurs in Science & Technology) initiative at the Lassonde School of Engineering is delighted to team up with FIRST Canada to host the inaugural YorkU-FRC regional event,” says Terry Sachlos, associate director, Bergeron (BEST) initiative and assistant professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering. “We look forward to welcoming the next-generation of entrepreneurial students, and their guests, to YorkU.”

The school has a shared commitment to technology entrepreneurship offering unique opportunities such as the BEST Undergraduate Certificate in Technology Entrepreneurship, for enrolled students to advance their entrepreneurial ambitions during their undergraduate studies.

The regional FIRST Robotics Competition event takes place at Tait McKenzie Centre 1 Thompson Rd., North York, ON Canada.

For a full schedule of events, visit FIRST’s website.

Media contacts:

Anjum Nayyar, York University Media Relations, 416 736 2100 ext. 44543 anayyar@yorku.ca

Kim Cooper, FIRST Robotics Canada, kim.cooper@firstroboticscanada.org

York University champions new ways of thinking that drive teaching and research excellence. Our students receive the education they need to create big ideas that make an impact on the world. Meaningful and sometimes unexpected careers result from cross-disciplinary programming, innovative course design and diverse experiential learning opportunities. York students and graduates push limits, achieve goals and find solutions to the world’s most pressing social challenges, empowered by a strong community that opens minds. York U is an internationally recognized research university – our 11 faculties and 25 research centres have partnerships with 200+ leading universities worldwide. Located in Toronto, York is the third largest university in Canada, with a strong community of 53,000 students, 7,000 faculty and administrative staff, and more than 300,000 alumni.

York U's fully bilingual Glendon Campus is home to Southern Ontario's Centre of Excellence for French Language and Bilingual Postsecondary Education.

FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) is an international non-profit organization designed to inspire students to pursue further studies and careers in science, engineering, technology, and mathematics. Students develop skills in problem solving, innovation, leadership and teamwork as well as design, manufacturing, programming and testing. FIRST’s programs reach 300,000 students in 70 countries. FIRST Robotics Canada, a Canadian non-profit started in 2002, now reaches 20,000 Canadian students, and includes a Girls in STEM Advisory Council.

For more information about FIRST Robotics Canada, visit firstroboticscanada.org.