Called the C.K. Cyber Pack, the team is made up of 34 students from three area high schools: Chatham-Kent Secondary School, Ursuline College Chatham and Lambton Kent Composite School. With St. Clair College as one of their lead sponsors - along with Union Gas - the team has been able to enter the FIRST Robotics Competition.
FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) is an organization that aims to inspire young people through science and technology by engaging them in programs and competitions that start regionally and end up on an international stage. The FIRST Robotics Competition is described as "the varsity sport for the mind," and combines the excitement of sport with the rigors of science and technology.
Each year, teams made up of students in Grades 9 through 12 from across the world compete through building and programming robots to perform prescribed tasks against a field of competitors. The teams are challenged with strict rules, limited resources and time limits, and have to raise funds and design a team brand to enter the competition.
While high schools in Windsor-Essex have formed teams to enter the FIRST Robotics Competition for many years, Chatham-Kent high schools were never able to form teams large enough to enter - which is a 25 person minimum.
C.K. Cyber Pack team leader Andrew Reaume, 17, who attends Ursuline school, said he is happy St. Clair got involved to spearhead a team in Chatham-Kent so that he could experience what so many students in Windsor-Essex have before.
"On their own, there was not enough interest from each high school to form individual teams," said Reaume.
Not only was St. Clair a lead sponsor, they provided a space for the team to meet to work on building and programming their robot on a regular basis. At the Thames Campus, the team meets in the Trades Laboratory about four times a week.
"This has been a great experience," said Reaume, who had never been to the Thames Campus before. "It teaches us hands-on skills that we're going to need in the future, like wiring, using power tools, wrenches and things. They're not very hard things to learn, but you might need to know them in your life, so you could fix your own stuff."
Roger Faubert, who is retired from St. Clair College, is the team's coordinator.
Faubert said St. Clair College has supported Windsor-Essex high schools in the past, but has never been a lead sponsor of a team like they are for the C.K. Cyber Pack.
He said as a result of the college getting involved in this, he's heard of at least three members who now plan to attend St. Clair.
"Just putting this together alone, there's for sure two to three students from this group who have decided to go to St. Clair," said Faubert. "It's connected the high school technical world to St. Clair."
The purpose of this year's competition for rookie teams such as the C.K. Cyber Pack is to build and program the robot to pick up objects like recycling bins and move them around.
The regional FIRST Robotics Competition will be held at the University of Windsor Easter weekend.