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Robotics Team Win Admiration and Praise at National Competition

On Friday, 16th March, 11 Launceston College students headed to the nation finals of the Tomorrow’s Engineers EEP Robotics Challenge at the NEC in Birmingham. The competition was held in the middle of the Big Bang Fair, which is the largest celebration of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) for young people in the UK.

The team finished 16th overall out of 400 competitors, having previously won their regional competition to qualify for the national finals. They were highly praised for creating a control system which no one had ever seen before.  This bit of ingenuity caused many people to ask questions, resulting one of the Lego Education officials coming to talk to the team and take photos of the robot to share with his colleagues around the world.

What competition consists of several components that require more than just designing, building and programming two Lego robots to carry out a range of missions. The team also had to complete presentations on a research topic and teamwork challenges.

Based this year on the RAF for their 100th anniversary, the robotics element was about delivering aid to those in need, often in challenging landscapes.  The team had to build two Lego robots, one to go fast along a track, and the other had to perform several challenging and complex tasks without human intervention.  The so-called ‘speed-robot’ was the fastest in the whole of Cornwall, and held its own at the national event.  Having smashed through the South West regional competition, our team reached the national finals with a good chance.  On the day, the competition was fierce, but they were proud of their achievements, and were looking forward to next year.

As well as the robotics element, the team had to work together to achieve a task given to them on the day.  This task was one which made them work as a team, which is what the whole competition is about.

Finally there was a presentation element, which consists of presenting research on chosen topics and also on the design of the robot.  The topics that Launceston College chose were limb replacement technology and prosthetics.

The Big Bang Fair

The Big Bang Fair is held at the NEC each year, with satellite events up and down the country.  The national finals of many events are held at the NEC one though, including the robotics challenge.

The fair is an event based on careers using STEM, with stands from BAE Systems, the RAF, GCHQ and Network Rail and Code Club, amongst others.  On each stand are interesting activities based around STEM that inspire many young people to think about a career in the STEM subjects, and is the perfect place for a robotics competition, especially as many stands use robots.

Can I Join the Team?

Next year, Launceston College will enter the competition again, and will be on the lookout for new team members.  If you think you are good at inventing Lego Technic models, or you are good at programming, or are excellent at researching and designing presentations then the team needs you.  The robotics team needs a range of skilled people – not just Lego fans.

If you are interested, speak to Mr Piper in the Science Faculty.

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