Students at Garth Webb Secondary School in Oakville are hard at work putting the finishing touches to their latest engineering marvel ahead of the provincial rounds of the 2024 FIRST Robotics Competition.

Local 793 has been a long-time sponsor of the school’s robotics program, which is helping to inspire a new generation of Canadian science and technology leaders and innovators. On February 22, OETIO Director of Training and Apprenticeship and Executive Board member Jeff Hewitt visited the school to meet the students involved in this year’s event.

Teams design, program and build a robot, starting with a standard kit of parts and a common set of rules to play in a themed head-to-head challenge. Students also build a brand, develop community partnerships for support, and work to promote STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) in their local community.

High schools from around the world are competing in regional competitions for a chance to earn a coveted spot at the 2024 Championship event in Houston, Texas, from April 17-20.

The Garth Webb team is made up of 50-plus students who work in one of seven disciplines – manufacturing, design, media, business, electrical, drive and programming – under the guidance of Robotics Night School lead teacher, Thomas Douglas.

They have been putting in up to 20 hours a week after school and on Saturdays to ensure their robot is ready to impress when they take part in two regional competitions in March before visiting the International Centre in Mississauga from April 3 to 6 for the provincial qualifier.

With such high costs involved in building the robot, Douglas said attracting sponsors such as Local 793 is crucial to keeping the school’s program running. “We could not do what we do without you, and that’s the bottom line. You have been a pillar of support for us, and we are so grateful to have you as a partner in education,” he said.

Local 793 wishes the Garth Webb robotics team the very best of luck as they attempt to book their place at the championship event in Houston.

Students and staff gather in the fabrication room
OETIO Director of Training and Apprenticeship and Executive Board member Jeff Hewitt (centre) joins some of the students and mentors of Garth Webb Secondary School’s robotics team during a recent visit to the Oakville school, including Robotics Night School lead teacher, Thomas Douglas (right).
Students work on their robot
Students in the manufacturing group hard at work on their robot ahead of the beginning of competition in March.
Explaining how the robot works
A Garth Webb staff member explains the robot’s operation to OETIO Director of Training and Apprenticeship and Executive Board member Jeff Hewitt (right) on his recent visit to the Oakville school.
Students fine tune their robot's design on their computers
Students and mentors fine-tune their robot’s design as feedback is received from other departments. The competition helps foster key skills, including teamwork and communication.
Students at work in the manufacturing department
Garth Webb Secondary School has an array of impressive equipment and tools for students to use, including CNC machines, welding bays and 3D printers.