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VEX Robotics Club Celebrates Successful Season

A successful season for St. Michael’s College School’s (SMCS) VEX Robotics club has come to a close with three teams advancing to the provincial championships in early March.

“SMCS recently rounded off a great year in robotics at the provincial VEX tournament in Niagara Falls,” says Patrick Feghali, science and chemistry teacher and co-moderator of the club. “Two teams made it into the elimination rounds, competing against the best in the province. We are proud of the work and dedication they put in, with special thanks to our Grade 12 team, 6060Z, who acted as role models and mentors for the younger teams. We wish them the best of luck next year!”

Team 6060X, made up of Grades 9 and 10 students, was able to make the top 20, placing just 17th in the provincial tournament that featured 64 teams.

SMCS VEX Robotics club

“Throughout the years we have been fortunate to have some terrific teams that have qualified for the playoff round of the competitions, and have also won various tournaments,” says Frank Heijmans, Science Department Head and the club’s co-moderator. “This year’s success at provincials consisted of Grades 9 and 10 students, several of whom started this year. As they gained experience, they were able to build a competitive robot and become more skilled at driving it. We are very proud of how they came together as a team this year and are looking forward to the next few years to see how they progress.”

The VEX Robotics club begins preparing for the season in September where they have access to the main robotics classroom along with an adjoining room that further expands their workspace when building their robots.

“Our team spent many late nights at school preparing for the competition just ironing out issues with our robots and getting driver practice in on our field,” says Kieran Cline, Gr. 10 student and member of Team 6060X. “Our team did well in most of our competitions, we were really efficient at fixing any problems we discovered during the matches, and they were all fixed before we next went on the field.”

A week prior to the provincial tournament, SMCS hosted its annual competition in the gymnasium.

“With tremendous help from Mr. Kuzyk and the facilities team, we are able to host the iDESIGN Central Toronto VEX Robotics Competition every February,” says Heijmans. “We just completed our seventh tournament a few weeks ago with 39 teams.”

According to Heijmans, the tournaments offer students a “reality check” on their designs which allow them to then make any necessary changes ahead of the next one.

“This whole process requires the mentoring of younger students and the sharing of ideas,” he says. “We are fortunate that our senior students naturally fall into the mentorship role. It is also nice to see our students grow as leaders.”

Cline offers a few words of advice for students interested in the club: “Know that VEX is a major time commitment. You will spend long nights at school in preparation for the competitions, but it is an amazing experience where you can learn a lot about robotics. Also never give up hope, there is always next year.”

Check out our photos from the recent competitions:

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