/R E P E A T -- More than 3,500 young Quebec students gathering at Uniprix Stadium to compete in 3rd Robotics Festival! (March 20-22)/

50% high tech / 50% extreme sport - An event that's 100% excitement (and nearly twice as big as last year)!

MONTREAL, March 18, 2014 /CNW Telbec/ - The Robotics Festival is back, and will be rolling into Uniprix Stadium March 20 to 22.  Now in its third year, this thrilling robot competition fusing high technology and extreme sport continues to grow unabated as it further entrenches itself as one of the most exciting events year after year. Both spectacular and electrifying, the Robotics Festival is the culmination of an educational program developed by Youth Fusion and FIRST Robotics Quebec aimed at fostering school perseverance and preparing the next generation of scientists, engineers and technologists. Over 3,500 young students will be competing, including a record number of girls (almost 30%), from 97 elementary and high schools. Add the mentors, teachers, sponsors and spectators, and the event will be attracting nearly 5,000 people daily at Uniprix Stadium. The Robotics Festival is presented by Bombardier and the Lucie and André Chagnon Foundation, in association with the BMO Financial Group, Saputo and Montreal Hooked on School.

"When you combine high school dropout rates, the shortage of skilled workers and an aging population, you can see how Quebec risks losing its standing as a global science and technology leader. We must do everything in our power to encourage our youth to stay in school and strive for academic success. Our competitiveness and prosperity depend upon it. All of us need to play a role in making this a priority," warns L. Jacques Ménard, President of BMO Financial Group, Quebec, Chairman of Youth Fusion and a member of the board of FIRST Robotics Quebec.

Two international competitions
This third edition of the Festival will feature two international competitions designed to give young students an unprecedented experience: the challenge for 14-18 year-olds, dubbed Aerial Assist this year (building a functioning robot capable of passing and catching fitness balls), and the LEGO® challenge for 9-14 year-olds (designing robots able to carry out natural disaster preparation, response and rebuilding missions, in keeping with this year's theme of Nature's Fury).

The young participants will include 11-year-old Adil Ali, a Grade 6 student at the Barclay elementary school, in Park Extension, who will be competing in the LEGO® challenge for 9-14 year-olds with two of his friends, ages 11 and 12. The youngest of seven brothers, Adil, born in Quebec to Pakistani parents, is a model student, as well as a shining example of integration. The key to Quebec's socioeconomic future is training and preparing more people like Adil!

Impressive progress
In 2012, the Robotics Festival attracted approximately 1,000 young students from Quebec. In 2013, the event drew over 2,000 participants. This year, the turnout will top the 3,500 mark, i.e. 2,300 students from 60 elementary schools and 1,250 from 40 high schools.

"The Robotics Festival is enjoying such tremendous success in schools and with young people that we're barely meeting demand. I am delighted about the enthusiasm and the enrolment numbers the event is generating across Quebec, namely as a result of the many leaders in the school board community, the school principals and the teachers who mobilized to set the process in motion. We do our utmost to provide these young students with an unforgettable experience. It all comes down to respect. We can't ask them to  work hard to produce something extraordinary and reciprocate with a competition that is simply ordinary. If we want them to believe in themselves, to take their education seriously and to pursue promising careers, we have to step up and deliver an event that matches these aspirations," states Gabriel Bran Lopez, Cofounder of FIRST Robotics Quebec.

The 2014 challenge for 14-18 year-olds: Sponsored by NASA
The challenge for 14-18 year-olds is part of a wider international robotics competition sponsored by NASA, which is once again expected to attract over 55,000 young students, from some 2,750 schools. In this year's challenge, two competing Alliances of three schools each will square off on a field and endeavour to win by scoring as many fitness balls as possible in the opposing goal during their two-minute and 30-second match. The more goals an Alliance scores, and the more their robots work together in the process, the more points an Alliance receives. Of the 40 teams competing this March 22 in Montreal, only the Top Six will qualify for the World Championship, slated for late April, in Saint-Louis, Missouri.

"The educational component of the Robotics Festival is a long-term undertaking intended to nurture and shape the topnotch scientists and engineers of tomorrow in a field that will be at the forefront of a continental industrial revival. Every Quebec business should be involved in this effort. We need events of this scope capable of having a catalyzing effect in Quebec elementary and high schools, and all indications are that the Festival can really turn the tide and make a difference," deems Laurent Beaudoin, Chairman of Bombardier Inc. and FIRST Robotics Quebec.

The secret: "Gracious ProfessionalismTM"
In order to meet these challenges, the students work for several weeks with mentors, university students, teachers, engineers and technicians associated with the program's partners, enabling them to learn and deepen their scientific knowledge and skills. The students also develop marketing tools to promote their team (costumes, buttons, banners, etc.). FIRST Robotics Quebec exposes them to what is known as "gracious professionalismTM," which advocates teamwork, cooperation and helping one another.

"I truly believe the Robotics Festival and the educational program will play an increasingly key role, both in paving the academic way for many of tomorrow's Quebec scientists and engineers, and in securing the socio-economic future of our society as a whole," states astronaut Julie Payette, Executive Director of the Montreal Science Centre, who recently joined the board of FIRST Robotics Quebec.

Website: www.festivalderobotique.ca

SOURCE Youth Fusion

For further information: Media Relations: Hémisphère relations publiques: Mélanie Bergeron, 514 922.2009; Caroline Bergevin, 514 914.5138; Marie-José Bégin, 514 994.0802