Jonathan ZhouAn undergraduate student in the Faculty of Engineering’s mechatronics engineering program is a key organizer of an upcoming international robotics contest.

Jonathan Zhou, a 2022 Schulich Leader at Waterloo, is getting set to kick off an event called Mecha Mayhem in his hometown of Calgary. Zhou was recently a semi-finalist in the Breakthrough Junior Challenge for his work in science communications.

He is organizing the event with his brother, Justin, who is currently completing a Masters in Electrical Engineering at Waterloo and is a member of the Engineering Excellence Fellowship.

The Mecha Mayhem tournament will take place over three days of competition, with more than 120 middle and high school teams attending from around the world. It will feature Canadian tech and robotics companies and will be a chance to promote new talent on the world stage.

The event also aims to promote and diversify robotics and STEM education by donating leftover robotics kits after the competition is over.

“Robotics is not just a fun hobby,” Zhou says. “Many of the real-world skills and lessons I learn in classes at Waterloo, I’ve encountered before in robotics. It’s a great way to develop skills and an interest in mechatronics early on.”

Mecha Mayhem is the first VEX Robotics signature event in Canada. VEX Robotics is a company that offers educational opportunities for students, all the way from elementary school to university. Zhou says that VEX Robotics opportunities in Canada are few and far between, with only select schools across the country offering the programs.

This event is the latest work for Zhou and his non-profit, Western Mechatronics, which he started to help get young people involved in robotics competitions and robotics education.

“My entire team has been hard at work on this for the better part of a year,” he says. “It’s been a lot of work, but I’m incredibly proud of what we’ve done and can’t wait to see the event happen.”

Mecha Mayhem will be held at Calgary’s BMO Centre from February 3 to 5.