Robotics coding easy as x, y, z

University of Sydney Engineering students are mentoring keen coders at International Grammar School (IGS), with promising results.

Competing in the first round of the International Zero Robotics Competition during the recent school holidays, the IGS Zero Robotics team placed 7th within Australia and 49th in the world.

“It was a great result for rookies,” said Chemistry teacher Ms Claire Loh who coordinates the School’s Robotics Club, one of a number of clubs run for IGS students during lunch and after school.

“In the next round, the team will be required to code using 3D vectors, an enormous mathematical challenge for a team with an average age of 14,” Ms Loh said.

“It’s a great opportunity to have our students learning from university students, and particularly valuable for the girls to have access to a woman who is studying aeronautical engineering.”

University of Sydney Aeronautical Engineering student Anne Bettens, in the second year of her Master’s degree, and Zhu John Ma, a third year Mechatronics student, said they really enjoyed mentoring at IGS.

“I really like the kids,” Ann said. “They are learning ahead of what I am explaining. It’s really cool to see them progressing.”

Team captain Max Scurrah-Rose, 13, of Year 8, described the experience as “really motivating.”

“There’s so many things you can do with coding. It’s pretty much limitless. I am expanding my skills.”

Perri Fearnley, 13, of Year 8, described coding as “a unique challenge.” “It’s a great skill to have for the future. I am not the best at Mathematics, but I still really enjoy this. I do Chinese and French, and coding is like learning a new language.”

Fellow student India Quayle, 13, of Year 8, and Jake Loh, 16, of Year 10, agreed. “A lot of jobs will be disappearing once automation takes over, but not engineering,” Jake said. “I love machines. They are easy to predict.”