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Students in Windsor, Ont. receive annual bursaries from FIRST Robotics


Five high school graduates in Windsor, Ontario are the recipients of a $1,000 bursary from Windsor-Essex FIRST Robotics (WEFR), a group that promotes and delivers FIRST Robotics Canada programming in the Windsor-Essex and Chatham-Kent regions.

“Now more than ever, it is important to recognize the accomplishments and efforts of our local FIRST Robotics teams. These five individuals serve as shining examples of the spirit of FIRST in our community,” says Larry Koscielski, VP of process and technology development at CenterLine and chair of Windsor-Essex FIRST Robotics.

The annual bursaries are named in honour of James Broom and Spencer James – a student of the FIRST Robotics team at Maranatha Christian Academy and a mentor of the FIRST Robotics team at Belle River High School, respectively – who passed away in 2014.

“Both James and Spencer inspired the people around them, and we established this bursary to honour that legacy,” says Koscielski.

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The following students from the following high schools received bursaries to attend the following post-secondary institutions:

  • Akos Balint, Catholic Central High School (Team 7800), University of Windsor, Sociology and Criminology
  • Jack Bortolin, Hon. W. C. Kennedy Collegiate Institute (Team 5408), University of Windsor, Visual Arts and the Built Environment
  • Alyssa Derikx, St. Anne Catholic High School (Team 4688), University of Windsor, Chemistry
  • Matthew Sterling, Ursuline College Chatham Catholic Secondary School (Team 5689), Conestoga College, Mechanical Engineering Technology – Robotics and Automation with Co-op
  • Zeinab Wehbe, École Secondaire de Lamothe-Cadillac (Team 4938), University of Windsor, Nursing

“It is always a pleasure reading the students’ submissions, but hard to choose only five. This year’s applicants had very impressive and diverse experiences, and ambitious goals for their future. The one commonality is the role that FIRST Robotics has played in providing them with opportunities to grow as student leaders,” says Michelle Bondy, a WEFR board member and chair of this year’s bursary selection committee.

FIRST Robotics Competition is an international robotics program where high school students work alongside teachers and professional mentors to design and build 120-pound robots. The “game” the robots compete in changes every year, and is only announced six weeks before the competitions begin.

In 2013, there was only one high school FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) team and one FIRST Lego League (FLL) team operating at the grade school level.

Today, there are 17 high school and 48 grade school robotics teams competing in Windsor-Essex and Kent Counties. Over 1,000 students were involved in FIRST in the area this year.

Windsor is also home to the Windsor Essex Great Lakes District Event, which draws 1,500 high school students from across North America annually to compete at the University of Windsor’s St. Denis Centre. Due to COVID-19, this year’s Windsor Essex Great Lakes District Event was cancelled.