Announcing the first Robotics Festival in Quebec

Universities, businesses and schools join forces to engage youth through educational robotics programs

MONTREAL, Dec. 14, 2011 /CNW Telbec/ - Bombardier, BMO Financial Group, Youth FusionFIRST Robotics Quebec and Montreal Hooked on School, alongside partners from the education community, are proud to announce the first Robotics Festival in Quebec, which will take place on March 15-17, 2012 at the Uniprix Stadium in Montreal. This remarkable event will bring together more than 5000 people from 67 schools across the province, and will showcase the accomplishments of elementary and high school students as they compete in high-caliber technological challenges. 

"In recent years, businesses, universities and schools have mobilized to engage Quebec's youth through educational robotics projects that promote student success and create an opportunity for engineering talents to blossom," asserted Laurent Beaudoin, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Bombardier Inc. and co-founder and Chairman of the Board of Directors of FIRST Robotics Quebec. 

Supported by this strong mobilization, five school boards in Quebec have freed up a total of 34 teachers from a portion of their workload in order to integrate educational robotics into classrooms in 22 high schools and 12 elementary schools. In Montreal, the CSDM took the lead by liberating 22 teachers, and the CSMB has liberated five. In Sherbrooke, the CSRS has liberated three, and in Quebec City and Rimouski, both the CSC and the CSPhares have liberated one teacher each. These teachers are able to invest their time in making links between the exciting world of hands-on robotics projects and the science, math and technology curriculum. 

"The school boards have made a groundbreaking contribution, which allows us to engage more at-risk youth, to value the work of passionate teachers, and to equip schools with opportunities for innovation," pointed out Gabriel Bran Lopez, Founder and Executive Director of Youth Fusion and co-founder of FIRST Robotics Quebec. 

Two innovative new partnerships in educational robotics were announced:

FOR 9-13 YEAR-OLDS: LEGO® CHALLENGES

With the support of engaged and engaging teachers, as well as high school students who act as mentors, 9-13 year-olds use LEGO® Mindstorms NXT technology to build, test and program autonomous robots capable of completing a quest with a scientific theme.

The participating elementary and young high school students acquire skills and knowledge by researching efficient and effective designs, and presenting their innovative solutions to a team of experts. The theme of the challenges varies from year to year: for 2012, the FIRST Lego league has proposed a series of challenges around the theme of food production, and the Zone01 Challenge will focus on ancient civilizations.

"By involving high school students as mentors, we are ensuring continuity between programs in elementary schools, high schools, post-secondary institutions and industries," declared the partners.

FOR 14-18 YEAR-OLDS: "THE STANLEY CUP OF ROBOTICS" OF FIRST ROBOTICS QUEBEC

FIRST means: For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology

Participating high school students face a great challenge: Each team has six weeks to build a high-quality functioning robot, able to play a sport (to be announced next January 7 at ÉTS, École de technologie supérieure). From September until May, and during the six weeks of intense construction, the students work with teachers, university experts and engineers, which enables them to learn, deepen and apply their scientific knowledge and skills. The ultimate goal is very exciting: competing against other robots at the international championship.

"That is why we have nick-named it the 'Stanley Cup of robotics,' " explained Gabriel Bran Lopez.

RALLYING SOCIETY BEHIND INNOVATION IN EDUCATION

Recognizing the urgent need to act on high school dropout rates, the private sector has invested human, technical and capital resources to make educational robotics programs accessible to a growing number of youth. Laurent Beaudoin and L. Jacques Ménard, President of BMO Financial Group and Chairman of the Board of Directors of Youth Fusion, played a key role in the creation of FIRST Robotics Quebec and the expansion of Youth Fusion, through which an ever-growing number of universities, businesses and institutions have joined forces to help young people build robots:

Platinum Partners: Bombardier Inc. and the J.A. Bombardier Foundation, BMO Financial Group, Youth Fusion
Gold Partners: CAE, Hydro-Québec, Vigilant Futures, City of Montreal, Montreal Hooked on School
Silver Partners: Pratt & Whitney Canada, Future Electronics, Autodesk, Héroux Devtek, CGI, BRP, Ministère du Développement économique, de l'Innovation et de l'Exportation
Strategic Partners: Quebec Order of Engineers, Zone01, FIRST Robotics Canada, Brault & Bouthillier, Carrefour jeunesse-emploi de la Capitale-Nationale, Jeune Chambre de commerce de Montréal, The Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal, Caisse Desjardins De Lorimier, City of Québec, City of Rimouski
Universities: University of Sherbrooke, École Polytechnique de Montréal, ÉTS, Concordia University, Université Laval, Université du Québec à Rimouski, Université de Montréal, Université du Québec à Montréal, HEC Montréal and McGill University
School Boards: de Montréal (CSDM), Marguerite-Bourgeoys, de la Région de Sherbrooke, des Phares, de la Pointe-de-l'Île, Marie-Victorin, English Montreal, Lester B. Pearson, Cree School Board
Collaborators: Carrefour des sciences et technologies de l'Est du Québec, Société de Développement Social de Ville-Marie, Éditions Didac-Tic, Blue Storm Media, Interactive Intelligence, MDA Corporation, Canadian Space Agency, Uniprix Stadium, Rio Tinto Alcan

Together, these partners are contributing over $1,000,000 towards robotics programs in Quebec schools and the organization of the first Robotics Festival.

AN INVITATION TO THE 2012 ROBOTICS FESTIVAL

The partners are pleased to extend this invitation to the first edition of the Robotics Festival, which will take place from March 15 to 17, 2012 at the Uniprix Stadium.

Teams from the Greater Montreal area, Quebec City, Estrie, the Bas-Saint-Laurent, Mauricie and the North Shore will be there, showing off their technological prowess gained through months of hard work.

In order to ensure that all the young participants and guests gain the utmost from this experience, the Uniprix Stadium will be divided into various zones: The Gracious Professionalism zone (also known as "the pits"); The Engineering Sports Zone (the stands), the Work and Innovation Zone (machine shop), and the Social Engagement Zone (volunteers).

To learn more about the first Robotics Festival in Quebec, please visit:
www.festivalderobotique.ca

THE FIRST ROBOTICS FESTIVAL IN NUMBERS
5000 participants in total
1800 youth participants
1000 guests
200 professional mentors and experts
32 high schools
35 elementary schools
4 schools from outside of Quebec
8 school boards
9 universities

For further information:

Gabriel Bran Lopez,
Founder and Executive Director of Youth Fusion
Cell: (514) 662-2183
gbl@youthfusionquebec.org