‘Glic’, a skilled robotics team from Wallace Hall Academy in Thornhill are on a winning streak and have just returned from the World Robotics Festival in Detroit with the World Teamwork Award. This comes weeks after winning the UK & Ireland Final of the First Lego League Robotics Championship in March.
The pupils competed against 600 other teams at contests in Glasgow and then Bristol to win a place at the First Robotics Championship in Detroit.
The World Robotics Festival is an enormous event in the USA, attended by 60,000 people including world renowned companies such as NASA, Google and Apple.
Neil Corrigan, Principal Teacher Design and Technology at Wallace Hall Academy, said: “The First Lego League is a worldwide competition, with 30,000 teams from 90 countries across the planet taking part. The challenge involves work towards two main areas, robotics and an invention. As well as producing a spectacular robot, each team needed to develop an innovative idea along the theme of how humans interact with water. Our proposal was a unique way of heating the home with energy wasted down our drains and Glic worked with Scottish Water, Scottish Enterprise and Heriot Watt University to develop our idea. The team were also nominated for a Global Innovation Award by the Institute for Engineering & Technology for this.
“100 of the top robotics teams from across the world competed in Detroit, so to win one of the main awards there was an incredible recognition of the team’s hard work. I think we made quite a splash, really celebrating the team’s Scottishness in kilts and tartan. However, it was the way every member of the team worked together to wow the judges in so many areas that won the award. I know that everyone involved was very proud of them all.”
The UK champions needed to raise £16,000 to cover costs of travel, accommodation and registration to take part. Donations came from numerous sources such as Tesco, M&S, Business in the Community Scotland, The Hunter Foundation, SP Energy Networks, Thornhill Rotary and local company Lag Tower Data Management. There were other donations from friends, families and staff at Wallace Hall Academy itself. Drumlanrig Castle and Country Estate presented Wallace Hall Academy with £5,000.
Anna Fergusson, Drumlanrig Castle and Country Estate Manager, said: “Winning the World Teamwork Award is a superb achievement especially for such a small local school.
“We were delighted to show our support and help boost their funds to make it to the Detroit competition. They did so well to even get there, and to bring back a big prize was a huge achievement.”
Unusually for the world of engineering, the team members of ‘Glic’, which is Gaelic for ‘Wise’ were mainly girls. Hannah Ogilvie, 15, said ‘Competing in America as UK & Ireland Champions was a real adventure and we all had an incredible experience. We felt we had done well because we got such positive feedback at every stage, but to win the World Teamwork Award against the world’s best teams was amazing.”
Teammate Faith Goodburn, also 15, said “We worked incredibly hard over the whole year to compete in America, but it has all been worth it. We have been interviewed for TV, congratulated in the Scottish Parliament, but more than anything we’ve learnt what it takes to compete on a global stage. We would all like to thank everyone who helped us get there – we had support from friends, parents and teachers as well as our amazing sponsors – the credit for the award extends well beyond those of us who were in Detroit.”