The hard work of the robotics and computer science students from grades 9 to 12 at Springbank Community High School is paying off. A group of 16 students will now be heading to Houston Texas from April 18-22 to compete at the FIRST World Championships at the 2023 FIRST Tech Challenge. 

The team’s ticket was punched when they won gold at the prairie super regional competition that saw teams from across the western prairies compete. Springbank Community High School teacher, Bob Mathew says, “We had three teams, and two of our three teams qualified for the 30-team provincial. Our senior team was knocked out in the semifinals and primarily our grade 11 team with some grade 10’s was able to move on to the gold medal and move on from there.” 

The team from SCHS is small but mighty and is competing against larger more affluent schools. Mathew says, “For example, the other team (from Alberta) that is going to the World Championships is a private team out of St. Albert and they are sponsored by Shell, they have a $160,000 robot. The fact that the SCHS kids competed against heavily funded private schools and won was a learning experience says Mathew, “It was a wonderful thing for the students to recognize that it does not matter where you come from, the opportunity if you work hard and work together and you collaborate amazing things can happen.” 

The program is proving extremely beneficial for the students and the community, but it does not come cheap. Mathew says the program is currently looking for strategic corporate sponsorship that would not only provide cash but possibly a mentorship opportunity. There is also a taxable donation program that is run through the Rocky View Schools website. There has also been a GoFundMe page set up to raise funds specifically for the student’s trip to Huston Texas.  

Mathew describes the robotics programs as “Take the best of the 80’s industrial arts, then throw in entrepreneurship, and have a halo event of robotics (that’s the glamour part) but really, we are teaching high-end technical vocational skills to students.” Those skills can greatly increase a student’s earning potential should they pursue a career in technology after they graduate.