BBC crowned Robotics World Superteam Champions

A team of students from Brisbane has defied the odds and beaten some of the best in the world of robotics, including teams from China, Germany and Japan. What better way to celebrate the world of STEM than being awarded World Superteam Champions at the Robocup 2017 Championships in Nagoya, Japan.

From Superteam to tech start-ups, Brisbane Boys’ College is taking the STEM scene by storm, with a team of five Year 12 students crowned superteam robotics champions, after defeating some of the world’s leading technology giants.

Master in Charge, Mr Colin Noy, was incredibly proud that the boys, who competed alongside the likes of Taiwan and Croatia, impressed the other Superteams with their open and logical programming.

“Undeniably, our goalie was the best programmed robot in the Lightweight Soccer Competition, responding perfectly every time,” Colin said.

In fact, one European University Lecturer attending the competition commented that programming level by BBC’s students was a level higher than most of his Masters students.

The BBC team initiated a new tactic in the Robocup this year, allowing communication between the robots through Bluetooth.

The boys’ exceptional programming enabled their robots to switch roles mid-game if the goalie was closer to the ball than the striker, by measuring the distance between them, making the robots intuitive of one another as well as the game itself.

But the competition wasn’t only based on game play, with spirit, presentation, design, poster and a portfolio also assessed.

In what is usually a 15 minute interview with two experts in the fields of programming and robotics, Team Australia interviewed for more than an hour, with the students explaining the intricate details of the programming and construction of their robots to the enthralled panel.

Despite the team from China having the fastest robots and receiving the highest points score for game play, Australia won on accuracy and code.

“Our robots were to the most responsive and most accurate in the competition. Even though we didn’t win all our games, the programming was exceptional,” Colin said.

This is not the first time a team from Brisbane Boys’ College has represented Australia at the Robocup World Championships. In 2015, BBC returned with a win in the Junior Heavyweight Soccer competition.

Brisbane Boys’ College knows that boys like competition and that they learn from other boys, so decided to harness that energy, curiosity and thirst for innovation with a Robotics program some 30 years ago.

A boy’s passion for something can start at a very early age. BBC’s Robotics immersion program begins in Year 3, with Robotics offered as a co-curricular activity from Year 4 to Year 12.

BBC Robotics Captain, Lachlan Grant, has participated in the program since Year 3.

In Japan, Lachlan acted as project manager to the team, whilst the other team members played their part as builders, designers and programmers.

You’d be forgiven if you thought we were talking about a tech start-up company in Silicon Valley.

“The Robotics program develops the total individual to work as a total package, and most importantly, with other people,” Colin said.

“Boys from an early age want to build things. When a boy is almost a man, he’s not still building with blocks, instead he’s building life skills like problem solving, manipulative skills, teamwork, interpersonal skills and project management. Our boys are better prepared for the jobs of the future because of it.”

It won’t surprise you that the students have great aspirations in the field of STEM, with the majority of them knowing from an early age they wanted to pursue an IT or robotics pathway.

Several past students of the Robotics program have gone on to highly successful careers in the STEM disciplines, applying the skills learned at school to real world situations.

Most recently, Brisbane Boys' College showed great strength at the Nationals in September, with two Year 12 teams taking out the Lightweight and Open Divisions respectively.