Union Gas throws its support behind Elite Robot 'Rumble'

$30,000 sponsorship awarded to annual tech competition for teams of high school students

WATERLOO, ON, March 22, 2013 /CNW/ - A high-tech "rumble" that pits robots built by teams of high school students against each other is getting major support from Union Gas, through a $30,000 sponsorship announced today at one of the competition's regional events.

In the annual FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) run by FIRST Robotics Canada, high school students team up with technology companies to build 5-foot, 140-pound robots to compete in high-intensity "robo-sports". Volunteer professional mentors are assigned to each team.  In just six weeks, the teams of 25 students or more raise funds, design a team "brand," and build and program robots to perform specific tasks against competitors in regional events held in several provinces. FRC teams can earn a place in a world championship, and this year, Ontario participants can also qualify for over $16 million in university scholarships.

The $30,000 Union Gas sponsorship, announced today by company vice-president of engineering, construction and storage transmission operations, Paul Rietdyk, is supporting the Waterloo FRC Regional event and also includes grants to several student teams from across the province. The regional event, which kicked off today at the University of Waterloo, received $20,000 of the sponsorship.

As part of the sponsorship, last month Union Gas announced a $2,500 grant for the RoBenedicts, a team from Sudbury's St. Benedict Catholic Secondary School that will be competing in the FRC Greater Toronto West Regional competition at the end of March. A Union Gas mentor also worked with the team.

"I can't think of a more exciting way to learn about math, science and technology and business than by building a robot and then testing its chops in this kind of high-energy showdown," Rietdyk said. "Union Gas believes that nurturing these kinds of 21st century skills in today's youth is an investment in their future and ours - and we're proud to support the FIRST Robotics Competition through our sponsorship."

"The FIRST program inspires students, teachers and mentors to work together as the students learn more about future careers in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields," said Mark Breadner, executive director from FIRST Robotics Canada. "We're thrilled with Union Gas' generous sponsorship and its support of individual teams through grants and mentorship. It shows a real commitment to developing our next generation of leaders in science, technology and business."

Union Gas works in hundreds of Ontario communities, including many in the Waterloo/Brantford district. The company is committed to contributing to the communities it serves by supporting direct and indirect employment, offering energy efficiency programs, and helping local organizations through sponsorships, charitable giving and hundreds of volunteer hours. For example, in the Waterloo/Brantford area, Union Gas has supported organizations including Junior Achievement of Waterloo Region and Waterloo Region Children's Safety Village. In 2012, Union Gas and its employees contributed $19,781 to United Way Kitchener Waterloo & Area and $30,644 to Brant United Way.

About Union Gas
Union Gas Limited is a major Canadian natural gas storage, transmission and distribution company based in Ontario with over 100 years of experience and service to customers. The distribution business serves about 1.4 million residential, commercial and industrial customers in more than 400 communities across northern, southwestern and eastern Ontario. One of Canada's Top 100 Employers for 2013, Union Gas is a Spectra Energy (NYSE: SE) company with assets of $5.8 billion and approximately 2,200 employees. For more information, visit uniongas.com.

About FIRST Robotics Canada
FIRST Robotics Canada runs the FIRST program in Ontario and supports the program in other provinces.  Our mission is to inspire young people to be science and technology leaders, by engaging them in exciting mentor-based programs that build science, engineering and technology skills, that inspire innovation, and that foster well-rounded life capabilities including self-confidence, communication, and leadership. We pursue this mission primarily through running high-energy robotics competitions. For more information, visit firstroboticscanada.org.

SOURCE: Union Gas Limited

For further information:

Union Gas Limited
Andrea Stass, Manager, External Communications and Media Relations
Ph: 519 436-5490 or 1-800-571-8446 ext. 5005490
Cell: 519 365-1010

FIRST Robotics Canada
Mark Breadner, Executive Director
Ph:  416 453-6844


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