Castlebar Town Cuncil accorded a civic reception to students from St Gerald's College, Castlebar in recognition for their outstanding achievements in a research project: Robot Engineering.and Logistics at Lough Lannagh Holiday Village. Included in photograph Cllr Blackie Gavan, Acting Town Mayor; Marie Crowley, Town Clerk; John Garavan, Chairman B.O.M.; Frank Durcan, Frances O Dowd, Sean Bourke, Principal; Declan Askin, Coach. Student Teams: Charlie Smith, Darren Mc Tigue, Daniel Mannion, Michael Clune, Jamie Chambers, James Mc Hale, Shane Kavanagh and Ciaran Mulgrew. Brendan Mc Hugh, Teacher; and town councillors. Photo Tom Campbell.
The St. Gerald’s College team consisted of 3 parts:
Research Project Team: Charlie Smyth, Darren Mc Tigue & Daniel Mannion
Robot Engineering Team: Michael Clune, Jamie Chambers & James Mc Hale
Logistics Team: Shane Kavanagh & Ciaran Mulgrew
Coach: Mr. Declan Askin
They were presented with a cheque for €3000 by SAP Galway, one of the leading software development companies in the world, who sponsored the competition nationally and provided valuable technical assistance.
FIRST® is an American foundation (For Inspiration & Recognition in Science & Technology) that has been running this global competition for the last 10 years. Last year 200,000 competitors took part worldwide.
The competition theme for 07-08 was called Power Puzzle. This theme required teams to explore how energy production and consumption choices affect the planet and our quality of life today, tomorrow, and for future generations.
The competition has 4 sections weighted at 25% each:
1. Research Project
Each team must carry out a research project based on a particular theme for that year. In 07/08 it was based on an energy audit of a public building. Based on the audit the teams had to suggest methods of energy conservation for the building having consulted various experts in the field. Finally, they had to communicate their findings to the community through the use of various media. Teams are allowed 5 minutes to present their project using any format they desire. This is followed by a 10-minute question and answer session with the project judges.
2. Robot Game
This is the most well known aspect of the competition. Teams must construct and programme a robot capable of carrying out a possible 13 specific missions in a 2 ½ minute game. This is done using the LEGO NXT robotics equipment and programmed using Robolab software. The score for each mission is dependant in its level of difficulty. The highest scoring teams from 3 rounds go through to the final.
3. Technical Judging
Teams are interviewed by a panel of experts on topics mainly dealing with their robot design and their programming.
A panel of hidden judges who monitor each team throughout the day judge teamwork section of the competition. They look for teams that work well together as a unit, are very organised and who also display excellent sportsmanship in all aspects of their participation.
Having won the Irish competition St. Gerald’s went on to represent Ireland in the UK & Ireland final held in the University of Birmingham on Saturday 2nd Feb.
There were 24 teams in the final, which was again divided into 4 sections.
St. Gerald’s scored very well in the Technical Judging and Teamwork sections and they came a very respectable 8th in the Robot Game section of the challenge. Their great success came in the Research Project where they won the overall award in the section with an excellent project presentation based on data from an energy audit of the college buildings.
As a result of all of this result the team were eventually placed 3rd overall in the UK & Ireland Final.
Because of this placing the team were then invited to represent Ireland in the FIRST® Open Asian Championship held in Tokyo, Japan from 27th to 29th April 2008.
Attending this prestigious event required financial contributions from many sponsors. The team are very grateful to Mr. Brendan Chambers in this regard for his significant contribution. They would also like to thank SAP Galway, the De La Salle Parents Association, Mayo County Council, Discover Science & Engineering, Galway Science & Tech. Festival, Mr. M. Clune, Microsoft UK and Aniar IT for their generous contributions.
The team travelled to Tokyo with the Mr. Sean Curran, Mr. Brendan Chambers and Mr. Michael Clune acting as guides.
They competed in Tokyo against 68 teams representing 29 different countries over 3 days. The competition was very demanding but they also managed to combine it with some amazing educational and cultural experiences in and around Tokyo.
After the 3 days of competition it was announced that the St. Gerald’s team had won the overall prize for teamwork. This was a tremendous achievement for everyone involved and significant in that it was the best result any team from Ireland or the UK had achieved in the Open Asian Competition to date.
For more: see www.geralds.ie
Tom Campbell, LIPPA
Tom Campbell Photography
Spencer Street, Castlebar, Co Mayo
Tel: 094 9022485