Sunday, September 20, 2020

Team 4549B: The future of Robotics

By Petrina D’Souza, 15 Mar, 2019

    Enver Creek Secondary’s robotics team, comprising of Arsh Jassal, Ritam Singal, Madhurjot Sohi, Ali Waraich and Jashan Virdi, ranked first in the world in programmings skills at the VEX Robotics Competition.



    The future of robotics in Surrey looks promising. At the recently-held VEX Robotics Competition (VRC) at Port Moody’s Heritage Woods Secondary, Enver Creek Secondary’s senior robotics team (4549B) ranked first in the world in programmings skills. The team was also declared tournament finalists and won the Inspire Award. 4549B team comprises of five grade 12 students – Arsh Jassal, Ritam Singal, Madhurjot Sohi, Ali Waraich and Jashan Virdi. In early March, the team won the BC provincial championship; they were named Tournament Champion and Robot Skills Challenge Champion, and won the Excellence Award. The team will soon be taking part in the World Championship in Kentucky, Louisville in USA.

    Presented by the Robotics Education and Competition Foundation, VEX is a competitive event where teams of students are tasked with designing and building a robot to play against other teams in a game-based engineering challenge. Classroom STEM concepts are put to the test as students learn lifelong skills in teamwork, leadership, communications, and more. “Tournaments are held year-round at the regional, state, and national levels and culminate at the VEX Robotics World Championship each April,” informs Enver Creek’s teacher and robotics team coach, Reuben Heredia.

    The Enver Creek Robotics program is a Semester 1 course for grades nine to 12 students. Once the semester ends, students have the option to continue working on robotics through the after-school club. “We currently have five teams, three of which are completely new to robotics and four of which have qualified for provincials in their first year,” Heredia adds. For the competition, 4549B team have spent between 10-20 hours per week designing, building, coding and testing their robots since September 2018. “After each tournament, they chat about what worked, what did not, and what they should change for the next tournament, demonstrating an intuitive understanding of the engineering design process. All these steps over the course of the past seven months add up to the robot that scored the high programming score,” says Heredia, who has been involved with the Robotics team for the last five years.

    Arsh Jassal is mainly in charge of the thorough documentation of the project. During each competition, he led scouting. “In addition to my work with the design process, this year I created a scouting system using Excel which makes in-competition alliance selection decisions effortless. As the system takes many variables into consideration, it saves time, as well as computes reliable information, which has equipped us to form winning alliances competition after competition,” explains Arsh, who is also co-director of the Science 4 Youth Club and Vice-President of the Students’ Council.

    Ali Waraich recalls that he first heard about robotics through his friend who had an older brother involved in robotics. “I was attracted to the robotics program because of my friends and being able to work in a team environment while also exploring the world of STEM.” As a designer and builder for 4549B, Ali helps in building the robot and determining what design can be used to effectively compete at competitions. “I take pride in helping our team come up with ingenious designs, such as our original “puncher” design which led us to qualify for the Vex World Championship last year.”

    Ritam Singal, 4549B’s lead programmer, was always interested in engineering, and robotics was one way to develop that interest. “The problem-solving aspect of building, designing and programming a robot keeps me gripped.” Ritam enjoys spending time after school and at home developing his programming abilities to make the team’s robot better. “With my expertise in programming, my team was able to achieve the number one spot in the world out of more than 10,000 teams this year,” he shares.

    Jashan Virdi states that for him and others in the program, robotics is like a safe haven, a home away from home. The passion for robotics existed in him since he was a young boy. “Seeing TV shows, movies about robots, increased my passion for the field.” His main job as a drive team member of 4549B is to keep count of the score and time during the match. “This ensures we know how to play the remaining period of that particular match. Some matches we may be losing and knowing by how much allows us to make decisions that allow the match to turn into our favour,” explains Jashan.

    Madhurjot Sohi was always interested in building new objects. With the robotics program Enver Creek, he was able to future enhance his ability to innovate while competing at the world stage. He is the lead designer and builder on the team; he developed the robot using computer-aided design to ensure the build goes smoothly. “I am also the driver on the team, ensuring I push the limits of the design,” adds Madhurjot, who is also member of the Air Cadet program and working towards his pilot’s licence.

    The team is extremely thrilled winning the No.1 ranking and Inspire Award. “Ranking 1st is a pleasant reminder of how we’ve set new standards for ourselves, as well as the growth-filled journey we’ve been on for the last few years. Similarly, the Inspire Award means that we, as a team, have gotten to a position where we can pass on advice and support younger teams starting their journey into the world of VEX Robotics, which itself is an accomplishment. Being mentors to the younger members is a rewarding experience, and we’re honoured to be recognized for it,” expresses Arsh. Ali adds that it is “tough to be ranked 1st out of 1000s of teams worldwide. To me, every time we win an award or achieve a high standing it shows that our hard work is paying off and it tells us that we are representing our community and city in a great way.”

    Heredia mentions that 4549B earned the award for their outstanding work within the community. “In December, they engaged in community outreach by presenting their Robot to 4/5th graders at Chimney Hill and they met up with 7th graders from Broookside at a “Robotics meet and greet”. Furthermore, over the past two months, they’ve been helping out students at Frank Hurt Secondary with their new robotics team.”

    Madhurjot and Ritam are keen on making a career in robotics. “Not only do I love robotics, but I will get to be involved in the fastest developing career field. I also want to bring my expertise to make innovations in the field in robotics. I will make this a reality and one day change the world,” says a determined Madhurjot. Ritam aspires to study computer engineering ahead. “Since I am interested in technology and artificial intelligence, I will most likely be in the field of robotics. I wish to continue with robotics because its principles are and can be applied in fields other than engineering such as military and medical. Robotics opens up doors to endless opportunities and that is why I want to stay close to robotics.”

    Jashan on the other hand, is leaning towards Biomedical Engineering, which will help him continue his interest in robotics. “It is the best of both world’s – engineering/robotics and the sciences. I would be able to pursue my passion for sciences and keep that passion for robots alive as well.”

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