Waterloo Engineering receives Educational Partner Award from FIRST Robotics Canada

The mission of FIRST Robotics Canada is to promote robotics alongside science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) subjects to Canadian youth. To do this FIRST organizes robotics competitions for students from elementary to high school. Students design, build and program robots to compete in a variety of fun challenges, from shooting balls into hoops to stacking boxes. FIRST provides resources, mentorship and support to participating teams, giving them the foundation to work together and use their ingenuity to solve problems.

This April, the University of Waterloo’s Faculty of Engineering received the inaugural Educational Partner Award from FIRST Robotics Canada. Waterloo is the first institution to receive this honour — testament to a long history of collaboration and support.

“One of the big sayings in FIRST Robotics is ‘More than Robots,’” said Armaan Sengupta, a second-year mechanical and mechatronics student. Sengupta credits FIRST with giving him hands-on engineering experience and guiding his career ambitions.

“I was always interested in engineering, but my FIRST experience showed me that this is something I really enjoy and want to do. It really clarified things for me. When I applied to universities, I exclusively applied for mechatronics engineering.”

Waterloo leadership was quick to understand the value of FIRST Robotics competitions in their ability to inspire students and highlight the value of STEM education. In 2005 Dr. Rob Gorbet, a professor in the Department of Mechanical and Mechatronics Engineering, and Dr. Maud Gorbet, a professor in the Department of Systems Design Engineering, with the support of then Waterloo Engineering dean Dr. Adel Sedra, reached out to the organization and offered to host the competition on campus grounds. This makes the Waterloo FIRST Robotics competition the longest running in Canada.