Calgary student robotics team wins best national rookie award

The Alberta Tech Alliance, a team of 17 Bishop Carroll High School students, won best rookie team at the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition in Science and Technology) Robotics national tournament in Toronto and are looking ahead to their next competition.
The Alberta Tech Alliance, a team of 17 Bishop Carroll High School students, won best rookie team at the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition in Science and Technology) Robotics national tournament in Toronto and are looking ahead to their next competition. 2:11

Some Calgary high school students are preparing for the biggest tournament of their lives.

It will take defensive and strategic skills to win, but it's not quite what you might think.

The team doesn’t practice in a gym or on a field, but with robots.

Seventeen Bishop Carroll High School students make up the Alberta Tech Alliance.

The students are fresh off a victory at the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition in Science and Technology) Robotics national tournament in Toronto and are looking ahead to their next competition — a world event in St. Louis, Mo. next month.

The students took home the award for best rookie team at the Canadian event.

"It was a defensive robot so we'd go over to the other side block the other robots, steal all the balls from them and we'd feed the balls to our team alliances so they could score more points," said Mac Hunik.

Hunik, 15, describes himself as an average student. He says you don’t need to be a so called brainiac to take part.

"We have people who are programmers who are amazing and we have people who are really good at fabrication, we have people who are strong in different areas and that's how this team works," said Hunik.

Making it to the St. Louis international tournament is quite the achievement considering the team just started this year.

"When I started this there was nothing, and damn, I want to start an FRC team," said Alex Rodrigues, referring to a FIRST Robotics Competition team.

With the help of labs at SAIT the students made their robot from scratch out of more than 200 parts.

The final product weighs more than 140 pounds.

According to competition rules teams aren't allowed to tamper, or tweak anything on the robots before the worlds, so it's on its way to St. Louis but this is what the students call a "naked" robot, just a base model and even this is at least 45 pounds.

"We've spent 300, 400 hours on this and it changes your life," said Rodrigues.

"It's like school in that it's a learning experience but it's not like school in that it's infinitely better."

The students will compete in St. Louis at the end of April.