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An automatic success

(April 27, 2000, Gazette)

It shoots, it scores
O’Donel High teacher Clar Button describes award-winning robot, Leaf the Lucky.

Photo by Chris Hammond

By Susen Johnson

The Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science and Technical Services co-hosted a plaque ceremony and reception on April 17 for the team of high school students who recently won the Canada First National Robotics Competition. Clar Button, a teacher at O’Donel High, and the Vinland Berzerkers — a group of students from schools across the Avalon East district, brought in their hockey-playing robot, Leaf the Lucky, to thank members of the engineering faculty and Technical Services staff for their cooperative effort in helping the team create the android and bring home the win.

The Berzerkers beat teams from 21 other school districts across Canada and even California (including Silicon Valley), and thanked Memorial for the important part the university played in the effort.

“The Faculty of Engineering provided us with some facilities — meeting rooms to brainstorm in, a phone line for teleconferencing, and some mentoring,” Mr. Button explained. “And Technical Services helped us with design and did some fabrication that the students aren’t allowed to do themselves.

“I would say we used them less than we should have; they know so much, their experience is vast. We couldn’t have done it without them.”

Speaking on behalf of the faculty, Jim Cooper, Engineering’s manager of finance and administration, said, “The enthusiasm of the participants grows each year and we’re only too happy to assist this type of activity in any way we can. Congratulations on the great win.”

Russell Callahan, Technical Services division manager, echoed these sentiments.

“We see it as an opportunity the students gave us, and we’re glad to have been able to contribute in a small way to such a great win,” he said.

Following a demonstration of Leaf’s stickhandling prowess and display of the Canadarm trophy that the team received for the win, the high school students were treated to tours of the Technical Services and Engineering facilities.