TORONTO, March 8, 2012 /CNW/ - Thales Canada today announced that it will be sponsoring the winning Canadian teams at the FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC), an annual event where high-school students from around the world team up with the world's best technology companies to build competitive robots based on an assigned theme.
Built from scratch in only six weeks, these large-scale (five-foot tall, 140 pound) robots compete in high-intensity robo-sports, which are advertised on the Discovery Channel. Volunteer professional mentors lend their time and talents to guide each team. With bragging rights at stake for schools and the companies that support them, robotics takes on a pro-sports experience.
Teams from across Ontario, Quebec, Alberta and Nova Scotia will be facing off against each other in three regional competitions - the Greater Toronto East Regional (March 8-10), the Waterloo Regional (March 22-24), and the Greater Toronto West Regional (March 29-31). The qualifying Canadian teams will travel to St. Louis, Missouri, to represent Canada in the FIRST World Championships April 25-28. More than 300 teams will vie for over $12 million in college scholarships at the finals.
"Kids have the capacity to push the boundaries of innovation, if you give them the right resources," said Michael MacKenzie, COO Thales Canada, Transportation Solutions. "FIRST Robotics is an amazing program that allows our youth to compete and learn from the best, thus ensuring we have a next generation primed for more research and development."
The financial investment by Thales will be split equally amongst all winning Canadian FRC teams that qualify for the World Championships and will go directly towards supporting their travel expenses. Additionally, Thales executive Selva Chelliah (VP Engineering, Transportation Solutions) has contributed his time to be on the judging committee of the FIRST GTR West competition.
"Thales Canada has been a great supporter of FIRST Robotics," said Mark Breadner, Executive Director of FIRST Robotics Canada. "At a time when business is counting every sponsorship dollar, we are very pleased that Thales has stepped forward and increased its commitment to creating a more innovative, entrepreneurial culture in our country."
The 'varsity sport for the mind', the FIRST Robotics Competition combines the excitement of sport with the rigors of science and technology. Under strict rules, limited resources, and time limits, teams of 25 students or more are challenged to raise funds, design a team "brand," hone teamwork skills, and build and program robots to perform prescribed tasks against a field of competitors. It's as close to real-world engineering as a student can get.
"Thales has been sponsoring the FIRST team at Runnymede Collegiate Institute in Toronto for seven years. The team works with Thales professionals who have volunteered their time to provide engineering mentorship. While we will continue with this, we wanted to do more this year by investing financially in those who excel within the competition," said MacKenzie.
"On a smaller scale, these students work with issues similar to what we face in the business world with our automated train control and systems integration solutions. We see our employees of tomorrow right here," he added.
Since the launch of the FIRST FRC competition events in Canada in 2002 over 12,000 Canadian students have participated in the FIRST Robotics Competition. This year there are over 2,825 students representing 113 Canadian high schools across Canada registered for the 2012 competition.
Thales is a global technology leader for the Defence and Security, Aerospace and Transport markets. In 2011, the company generated revenues of €13 billion with 68,000 employees in 50 countries. With its 22,500 engineers and researchers, Thales has a unique capability to design, develop and deploy equipment, systems and services that meet the most complex security requirements. Thales has an exceptional international footprint, with operations around the world working with customers as local partners. www.thalesgroup.com
Thales Canada has 1,300 employees in Montreal, Quebec City, Ottawa, Toronto and Vancouver working in Transportation, Defence & Security, and Aerospace. Sales across Thales operations in Canada were $500 million (CAD) for 2011 to a range of customers including urban rail service providers, civil aviation companies, and military and security agencies. www.thalesgroup.com/canada
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