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Penticton robotics students look for community support to stay competitive

The club is made up of 18 students from Penticton’s two high schools
Some members of the First Robotics club in Penticton (from left to right) mentor Josh Walker, Marcus Francisco, Devon Jones, Scarlett Steyn, Isabelle Alva, Mason Price, and Lucas Nickle and the base of their robot. The club is looking for sponsorship from the community to keep competing. (Brennan Phillips Western News)

Penticton’s student robotics club is back in action, and they’re looking for some community support to keep them competing.

The club was formed during the 2019-20 school year by students from both Penticton Secondary School and Princess Margaret Secondary School, and the spring saw the club’s 18 members make it to Victoria and place third overall, netting themselves the Best Rookie title and an invitation to the top level of competition in Houston, Texas, which ended up being cancelled.

Now, the First Robotics competitions are back, and Penticton students are gearing back up for it. Out of the original students, only Marcus Francisco is still there, with the other original members having graduated.

“I was on the drive team the first year, so I was down on the field controlling half the robot, that was definitely what I enjoyed the most,” said Francisco. “Especially when there’s 30 seconds left in the game and you’re driving to win, it feels like a sports game, it’s crazy.”

The club’s undergone some changes, including a switch in the makeup of students from 15 at Pen-Hi and three at Maggie to the complete opposite.

READ MORE: Penticton Robotics team qualifies for international championship in Houston

What hasn’t changed, is the cost to compete. The robot itself has a maximum cost in parts and materials of $5,000, and entry into Victoria’s competition has about a $6,000 US pricetag, and that’s not including any of the travel costs for the students.

“We’re looking for support from any local businesses, the more exposure we can get the better for us,” said club member Devon Jones.

The club is reaching out to the public to find businesses and individuals willing to give them a hand. On the club website is information for potential sponsors as well as links for people who want to make donations.

The exact parameters that the team will be designing their bot to meet at haven’t been revealed yet. Once that happens, in January 2023, they will have just over a month to design, build, program and test their bot before the March 1 tournament in Victoria.

Each bot will compete to be the most effective and fastest to complete the tasks assigned to them, which in the club’s first year including picking up balls to put into slots and then having the bot lift and hang itself. Each year’s competition has a different set of tasks. The robots are all controlled remotely, and are also programmed by the students as well.

“Back in 2019 everybody was here until like 5 or 6 o’clock, and the people who could stay, stayed,” said Francisco. “The last week I had some times where I was here until midnight.”

“We haven’t given this one a name yet. Our first robot’s name was Good Enough, because it was first year, but we don’t know what it’s going look like yet.”

If they manage to be in the top teams, there’s also the chance that they will need to find the funds for a second trip to Houston as well.

For those interested in sponsoring the bot, some of the options also come with branding on the robot, the team’s shirts and their website. More information about the club can be found online at

Brennan Phillips

About the Author: Brennan Phillips

Brennan was raised in the Okanagan and is thankful every day that he gets to live and work in one of the most beautiful places in Canada.
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