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St. Joe’s students show heart at Skills Canada nationals

The odds were stacked against Ryan Beck and Keadyn Knox. The high school robotics team had only one day between qualifying for the Skills Canada national competition and the event itself, and they had never used the parts or coding language involved at that level before.

“Going into nationals, I knew we had limited time to program our second robot,” says Ryan. “We had an entire day to write new code in a different language so we definitely just went in there thinking we’re going to try our best and that’s what we did.”

The Skills Canada Alberta competition was held in Edmonton on May 31st and June 1st. After winning their gold medal, the duo got home at 3 a.m. on the 2nd, spent that day working on their robot for nationals, and then flew back to Edmonton in the morning.

The pair knew they were at a distinct disadvantage, as most of their competitors had qualified in provincial competitions last fall and had been able to train with their robots in the meantime. Keadyn says they were willing to meet the challenge.

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“It was pretty stressful. We had a lot of good kids there who even helped us program our robots and that was definitely a big help.”

The pair had to build one or two robots that could think for themselves to put together miniature pipelines that could deliver oil, represented by ball bearings, to a refinery, and clean up a potential spill. They finished 10th out of 11 teams, and feel good about their performance under pressure.

“It was all fair game,” says Keadyn. “There wasn’t a big separation in points; each team was beating each other by only about five or three points, so it was all close together.”

Ryan adds that they’re grateful to have had experience both at the provincial and national level.

“We have to give a really big thank you to our friend, coach, and teacher Mr. McLeod for letting us be able to do this and helping us all the way through.”

Grande Prairie & District Catholic Schools hope to have two robotics teams from St. Joe’s compete in robotics events next year.

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