Canada’s first Black youth robotics team launched

Twenty-five students (grades 9 to 12) from the Greater  Toronto Area (GTA) got together at Ryerson University on Monday  for the official launch of TECHTRONIX, Canada’s  first Black youth robitics  team, organized by the African Canadian  Christian Network (ACCN).

TECHTRONIX will enter the  2018 Build  challenge,  the first  international  robotics competition organized  by the United States National Aeronautics and  Space Administration (NASA).

Teams  from various countries taking part in the competition are given six weeks to plan, design, and build their robots which  will perform a series of tasks this spring.

Students  from the  GTA with a keen interest in science and engineering, accepted an invitation by the  ACCN  to join  TECHTRONIX, organizers said.

Ryerson University Technical Officer Joseph Amankrah and members of Ryerson Rams Robotics and Formula SAE teams are training the rookie team in robot-building.

“It’s a joy to see these young minds open up to learning new things,” says Amankrah.

“It’s a privilege to work with them.”

Frank  Oshodi, 15, of  Holy Trinity school in  Richmond Hill, one  of  the students on the team,  said he was excited to work on the robot project.

” I have always been interested in science and I like building things,” he added.

So  far, the  construction of  the robot  is” almost  finished” and it was on demonstration at the official launch of TECHTRONIX.

Persons  at the launch saw the extended arm  of the robot  pick up objects, move  them from one part of  the room to another  and deposit them.

The ACCN  has  partnered with FIRST® Robotics Canada (FRC) and Microsoft to launch the Black youth robotics team.

FIRST® Robotics Canada President Mark Breadner describes the TECHTRONIX initiative as “inspiring and exciting.”

“We are amazed at how this team has come together and how far they have reached through hard work and commitment,” he says.

ACCN Executive Director Cheryl Lewis said she is looking forward to building the confidence of participants, as well as forming new relationships with partners.

“We created TECHTRONIX to nurture Black youth’s pursuit of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) careers and to demonstrate to them that they have what it takes to be at the STEM table,”  Lewis said.