Described as the largest regional Australian event of its type, the 15th Annual CQ Junior Robotics Competition has attracted a record 250 competitors and 88 teams to CQUniversity Rockhampton North campus.
Primary and secondary students from 27 schools converged from across an area spanning Mackay in the north, Emerald in the west, Yeppoon in the east and Bundaberg in the south.
Event organiser Jason Bell says the proportion of female competitors has increased to over 45%, which augurs well for girls’ interest in the STEM subjects – science, technology, engineering and maths.
In 2017, robot dance and robot rescue were the popular categories, although Mr Bell says robot soccer will make a comeback in future years.
“Research indicates up to 40% of current jobs may not exist in 20 years so I think we will have an autonomous robotics revolution where we need the next generation to be able to build robots, program them and fix them,” Mr Bell says.
“With the dance category, the students program their robots to be able to perform intricate movements in time with music and the students get dressed up in costumes and build props so they are able to dance along and participate.
“With the rescue category they have a simulated earthquake where they have to build a robot to save a ‘victim’ from a pretend chemical spill by programming a line-following algorithm into their software.
“Some of these students will have been programming their robots for months during robotics clubs after school or during classes.”