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West Van high school trio wins national robotics championship, sets eyes on world stage

Alex Jando, Jadyn Mithani and Yara Riahi won the Canadian FIRA autonomous car challenge for high school students and could compete internationally this August.
The trio is now seeking sponsors who can help them cover about $10,000 in expenses to get to Brazil for an international robotics competition and update their small robotic vehicle.

A trio of prospective engineers from West Vancouver hope to represent Canada this August at a renowned international robotics competition, after winning the Canadian championship.

Stamping their tickets to the Federation of International Sports Association (FIRA) Robo World Cup and Summit in Sao Luis, Brazil were: Alex Jando and Jadyn Mithani, both Grade 11 students at Sentinel Secondary School, and Yara Riahi, a Grade 11 student at West Vancouver Secondary School.

The trio won the autonomous vehicle race May 19 at Simon Fraser University and is now seeking sponsors who can help them cover about $10,000 in expenses to get to Brazil and update their small robotic vehicle.

“We hope to go to Brazil for the international tournament but we need better hardware to improve the car,” said Jando.

The international stage is certain to test their engineering skills.

“We’re not engineers but we will be engineers,” said Mithani.

Riahi explained that the trio has had an interest in the burgeoning field of robotics for the past two years.

“We can use our skills to apply to the real world. Being able to create something and have it move —  that’s the big thing,” said Riahi.

“I think you need a lot of ability to keep working at something — and it will fail 100 times. You’ll spend a lot of time that goes to waste that no one will see but in the end it’s great to see something that works,” said Riahi.

Mithani said he imagines a future “where everything is robotic” even our dinner plates, which could be delivered by a household drone.

“Everything in life you can improve by automating,” said Mithani.

“But when you get into the realm of machine learning you have to keep an ethical scope in mind; how it could be used in a bad way,” said Mithani.

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