North Surrey Secondary’s Hephaestus robotics club during the worlds competition in Texas last week. (Photo submitted)

North Surrey Secondary’s Hephaestus robotics club during the worlds competition in Texas last week. (Photo submitted)

VIDEO: North Surrey Secondary’s robotics team places 44th in global competition

Rookie Surrey club was the only team in B.C. to make it to the worlds

SURREY — While they didn’t win, North Surrey Secondary’s robotics team sure had a blast at a global competition last week.

The rookie Surrey squad placed 44th out of 67 teams in the FIRST Robotics worlds competition, held in Houston, Texas from April 19 to 22.

“It was absolutely incredible to see how these kids managed the challenge with the focus and determination of veterans. We were so incredibly proud of them,” said Julie Occleshaw, career facilitator at the high school.

Although they were not able to join an alliance for the playoffs, “we surpassed all of our goals here in Houston,” she added.

“We couldn’t be more pleased with the team and this entire experience,” she said from Texas on Saturday, April 22.

“We got a bit unlucky to be scheduled to play with some weak teams and we had to carry most of our alliances all day long,” recalled Occleshaw. “We lost more than we won even though we managed to get four rotors going and hang for all of our matches. It just wasn’t enough to get the wins. One match we lost by a single point!”

Occleshaw told the Now-Leader the group took a big hit during their third-to-last match on Friday (April 21) when their robot’s two front wheels broke.

“Our driver had to drive backwards and still managed to get four gears placed and hung. He was incredible,” she said. “We only had a few minutes between that and our next match so all we could do was zap-strap the bumper up to keep it from falling off and getting shut down, and go back out there with two broken wheels…. Amazing for a rookie team.”

Before their final match of the day on Friday, the team had one hour of free time, so they rushed back to the pit to remove the bumper and broken wheels.

“We managed to do it with time to spare thanks to our amazing pit crew,” said Occleshaw.

The team, called Hephaestus, was the only B.C. group who made it to the worlds. They qualified after winning the Rookie Allstar Award in the Western Canadian Regional competition in Calgary.

amy.reid@thenownewspaper.com