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Massey University’s Albany team Martin Pike, Maurice Tipene, lecturer Dr Johan Potgieter and Jonathan Aston check their robot.

 

Massey-trained teams triumph in Battle of the Bots

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The winning team of home-schooled
students and Kristin School just prior
to the result.

 

Robot designers mentored by Massey University engineering experts have triumphed at the Vex Robotics World Championships in Dallas, Texas.

The teams – the home-schooled Free Range Robotics and the Kristin Doves, of Kristin School in Albany – won the grand final in partnership with a Chinese team.

The University’s student teams also reached the finals with the Albany campus team coming second in its category.

Dr Johan Potgieter, senior lecturer in mechatronics, engineering and industrial management at the University, says it was a fantastic atmosphere and he was proud, but not surprised, that the New Zealand teams dominated the competition.

“Massey mentors and trains the New Zealand teams and this year we took 16 school teams to the world championships,” Dr Potgieter says. “We teach them programming and basic mechanics as well as team building, and support them through the process. They are hugely talented. We did well last year and now other countries see us as the ones to beat.”

The competition is sponsored by NASA and attracts teams from countries including Brazil, Canada, China, Colombia, India, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Puerto Rico, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, the United Kingdom, and the United States for three days of non-stop, high-energy robotics challenges.

Professor Ian Maddox, associate head of the University’s School of Engineering and Advanced Technology, says it is great to see the teams competing and winning on the world stage.

“Engineering is fun and exciting and this competition is not just about building robots, it’s about strategy and tactics and forming alliances and playing games – it’s not just for nerds and geeks,” he says. “These children are bright and full of imagination and we are trying to get more school pupils interested in maths and engineering.”

Sponsors for New Zealand teams include New Zealand Trade and Enterprise, Fisher and Paykel Healthcare, FedEx Express, Smales Farm, Glidepath, US Consulate and Massey University.

Professor Maddox hopes more sponsors will come on board to ensure the success continues.
“There are opportunities for New Zealand industries to identify and support this talent,” he says.


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