3 / September / 2018

Local students win major award at international robotics competition


Posted 3 September 2018

Five students from two local secondary schools, including Moreton Bay Region’s Grace Lutheran College, have represented Australia at international robotics competition, the FIRST Global Challenge (FGC) in Mexico.

After their successful inclusion in 2017 where they took home silver for International Unity, the same two schools have come together again and received silver for the Walt Disney Imagination and Creativity category.

This year, the event attracted over 190 teams and took place from 16-18 August at the Arena Ciudad de Mexico.

The winning team, named ‘Team Pineapples’, is made up of students from Grace Lutheran College (with campuses at Rothwell and Caboolture) and Brisbane-based St Peters Lutheran College.

The students, along with their teachers and mentors, have been working long hours to build a robot along the FGC theme of ‘energy impact’ to fuel power plants, initiate renewable energy plants and build a resilient transmission network.

The opening and closing ceremonies were large scale and have been compared to Olympic-level entertainment, with 196 countries taking part in the overall event.

Their award was one of only four major awards presented on stage – a stand-out result for the innovative students.

FIRST Global Challenge, international robotics competition held at Arena Ciudad de Mexico

STEM activities on the rise

FGC organisers are hoping for Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) to enjoy the successes of other areas in education so that students can experience competition at a level similar to sport and performing arts.

According to Grace Lutheran College, the students gained so much from their involvement in robotics on a world stage at the FIRST Global Challenge, including the opportunity to witness how the fast-growing industry is a large focus internationally, and have formed global relationships with students from varying cultures.

On reflecting on their robotics journey, they have all expressed a desire to pursue careers in either computer science or engineering. This is an experience that will ensure a lifetime of memories for all involved.

Mr Peter Kellett, Grace Lutheran College’s Manager Innovation Enterprise & Technology and Director of FIRST LEGO League & FIRST Tech Challenge Queensland said he is proud of the students and what they achieved in Mexico City.

“They were not only integral in planning and building the robot, they were the perfect Australian ambassadors by helping out other teams. This included operating Austria’s robots when their team suffered illness,” Mr Kellett said.

“They attracted a lot of attention by handing out their signature pineapple lollies and Tim Tams, and kept their robotics pit vibrant, inviting and fun. Team Australia were given the major award in recognition of how they conducted themselves and worked together as a team.”

He said that Grace Lutheran College is one of the leaders in robotics within Australia.

“Our robotics program is extensive, with opportunities to participate in workshops before students attend at high school.

“We have built a state-of-the-art robotics building and have a focus on developing STEM minds, including a robotics program within the curriculum in Year 7 to 11 and co-curricular robotics across all year levels through the Ignite Opportunities program.”

Thinking outside the square

With innovation and entrepreneurship the future of jobs for students, the Grace Lutheran College provides a multitude of opportunities to think outside the square.

Grace is a major partner with FIRST Australia and hosts Queensland State Championships for FIRST® LEGO® League and FIRST® Tech Challenge, and also currently operates Queensland’s only FIRST® Robotics Competition Robot program.

In 2016, and again this year, Grace has been named one of The Educator magazine's Innovative Schools.

Additionally, Grace recently welcomed Queensland’s Chief Entrepreneur and technology investor, Steve Baxter, and economist, author and entrepreneur, Ian Mason, to speak about their journey, what motivates them and ways to consider the future of business startups.

Among other things, the students learnt that perseverance and planning is key in business startup success.