Yorkton university student travels to Abu Dhabi for world robotics competition

A pre-nursing student might seem out of place at a world competition in the field of mobile robotics. But when your last name is Chiasson, robotics runs in the family.

Brock Chiasson is just beginning his first year of Arts and Science classes at Parkland College in Yorkton. This week, however, he is representing Canada at the WorldSkills competition in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

WorldSkills is the globe’s largest vocational skills competition, welcoming almost 1,300 young people from 77 member countries and regions. There are 51 skill competitions covering everything from aircraft maintenance to hairdressing to welding.

While Chiasson is new to post-secondary education, his training in robotics is extensive. He is following in the footsteps of his father, Kevin, and his older brother, Bo.

“They have both travelled the world for skills competitions and have achieved much success, so I was eager to get involved,” Chiasson says. “Their success struck me and made me want to become involved in this activity and compete.”

Before graduating from Yorkton Regional High School, Chiasson and his teammates conquered domestic competitions, twice winning gold at the Skills Canada national competition. The global competition is the pinnacle for Chiasson and teammate Sean Furber, who studies at the University of Saskatchewan.

Sean Furber and teammate Brock Chiasson (right) are competing at the WorldSkills Competition in Abu Dhabi Oct. 15-18. (Courtesy of YRHS World Robotics Team Facebook page)

“Our expert is my dad, and my older brother is the trainer,” Chiasson notes. “They’ve helped us along the whole time, just teaching us to improve our skills with teamwork, focusing on our own task, sticking to our strengths. They’ve helped us a lot with that kind of thing. It’s very encouraging, since they’ve already been through this.”

Each weekend this fall, Furber has driven to Yorkton from Saskatoon so he and Chiasson can train for the weekend. Chiasson estimates they spent 16 hours every Saturday honing their skills and working on their robot.

“It’s nerve-racking because Sean is kind of swamped [with coursework] right now. But I’ve had a lot of time to work on the robot. Hopefully it pays off in the end. I’m nervous for the competition because it’s the end-all for robotics.”

Chiasson says the WorldSkills mobile robotics competition is particularly challenging. He describes the contest unfolding in a playground environment, with a reception area as the starting point. In this scenario, a parent comes to the reception area and asks the robot – which is based on a real-life robot that will be deployed in Dubai – to retrieve their child from the playground. This task must be carried out three different ways: with competitors piloting the robot; piloting the robot without a direct line of sight; and autonomously/programmed.

“It’s kind of out of the blue that a robotics student is going into health care,” Chiasson admits. “But there’s more and more robotics being applied in health care and medicine, so hopefully I’ll get involved in some of that. I’d like to see if there are any advances that I could work on.”

At the conclusion of the 2017-18 academic year, he intends to enter the University of Saskatchewan’s College of Nursing. From there, he will complete his Bachelor of Science degree in Saskatoon. But the family connections convinced him to begin his post-secondary studies at Parkland College.

“Everyone was moving around. My younger brother’s at the Regional this year, he’s finishing up. I thought I’d stick around, cut down the cost of living a little bit.”

And being able to prepare for a global robotics competition is a nice advantage, too.

College, City of Yorkton renew agriculture land lease

The City of Yorkton and Parkland College have signed a new lease on almost 100 acres of agriculture land near the city.

The donated land is used by the College for applied research and revenue generation. The lease includes 41 acres just south of Yorkton for the College’s research farm and 58.6 acres of hay land at the city’s west end. These parcels would otherwise be leased to a farmer for approximately $5,600 per year, according to the City.

“The City of Yorkton is pleased to offer the lands to organizations like Parkland College in support of their operations and as a revenue generation source,” said Mayor Bob Maloney.

The land is home to a long-term agriculture applied research partnership with East Central Research Foundation. The partnership enabled Parkland College to become the first regional college in Saskatchewan to undertake an applied research program to serve regional economic development. The College also uses the research site to provide hands-on training to students enrolled in agriculture programs.

Yorkton Mayor Bob Maloney and Parkland College President Dwayne Reeve talk at the Research Farm just south of Yorkton.

“We are grateful to the City of Yorkton for its contribution to education and applied research,” said Parkland College President Dwayne Reeve. “The information our experts collect on this land is valued by the research community, agricultural industry, and local producers.”


About Parkland College:
Parkland College provides high quality, learner centred education and training as a foundation for lifelong success. The College offers a superior learning and campus experience for all students through quality programming and services. Students can get started on their careers by completing university classes, full degrees, and skills training and trades certificates. Parkland College also delivers high school upgrading, safety training, and corporate/professional development. Parkland College is proud to be one of Saskatchewan’s Top Employers for 2017.

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For more information contact:
Brendan Wagner
Coordinator, Corporate & Internal Engagement
Parkland College
Phone: 306.728.6595

Over $65,000 in Entrance Scholarships awarded to 18 students

Parkland College awarded 18 Entrance Scholarships with a combined value of approximately $65,800 at a presentation event Tuesday in Yorkton. All students receiving Entrance Scholarships this fall are taking university, skills training, or trades programs at Parkland College.

Scholarship Name

Value

Recipient
Canadian Federation of University Women – Yorkton Chapter – Saskatchewan Opportunity University Entrance Scholarship

$500

Althea Louise Borillo, Yorkton
CUPE 4980 Saskatchewan Opportunity University Entrance Scholarship

$1,000

Kirsten MacDonald, Yorkton
CUPE 4980 Saskatchewan Opportunity Skills Training Entrance Scholarship

$1,000

Whitney Dixon, Melville
GX94 / Fox FM Saskatchewan Opportunity Entrance Scholarship

$1,000

Jenna Eiffert, Yorkton
Kahkewistahaw Gas and Convenience Store Saskatchewan Opportunity Entrance Scholarship

$1,000

Mason DeVos Payne, Yorkton
LEON RAM Companies Saskatchewan Opportunity Skills Training Entrance Scholarship

$1,000

Shaquille Genaille, Kamsack
Loucks Pharmacy Saskatchewan Opportunity University Entrance Scholarship

$1,000

Andriana Howard, Norquay
Mosaic Potash Saskatchewan Opportunity Skills Training Entrance Scholarship

$1,000

Tylan Decelles, Edenwold
University Education Saskatchewan Opportunity Scholarship

$1,000

Jory Erickson, Melville
University Education Saskatchewan Opportunity Scholarship

$1,000

Austin Sabiston, Lipton
Walker Wood Foundation Saskatchewan Opportunity Scholarship

$2,500

Cassie Jones, Yorkton
Walker Wood Foundation Saskatchewan Opportunity Scholarship

$2,500

Hannah Efford, Yorkton
Walker Wood Foundation Saskatchewan Opportunity Scholarship

$2,500

Daryn Nevill, Melville
Walker Wood Foundation Saskatchewan Opportunity Scholarship

$2,500

Jayden Lang, Melville
Yorkton Rotary Club Saskatchewan Opportunity Basic Education Scholarship

$2,000

Jennifer Mountney, Melville
Yorkton Rotary Club Saskatchewan Opportunity Skills Training Scholarship

$2,000

Reghan Olm, Churchbridge
Yorkton Tribal Council/Parkland College Saskatchewan Opportunity Studentship Award

$21,300

Jason Bobb, Broadview
Yorkton Tribal Council/Parkland College Saskatchewan Opportunity Studentship Award

$21,000

Jonas Cote, Kamsack

 

These scholarships are made possible through the generosity of local businesses and organizations, community members, Parkland College staff, and the Ministry of Advanced Education’s Saskatchewan Innovation & Opportunity Scholarship (SIOS) program. SIOS is a matching program in which funds are provided on a dollar-for-dollar basis with local non-government donors. For every dollar raised locally, the province matches that dollar to support scholarships, as available.

Students interested in learning more about scholarship opportunities at Parkland College are encouraged to find out more here. Internal Scholarships for students already enrolled in Parkland College programs will be awarded in March 2018. Applications for those awards will be available to students beginning in December.


About Us:
Parkland College provides scholarships to students pursuing post-secondary education locally. Contributions to the Scholarship Initiative help Parkland College maintain the ability to contribute to the education and training of residents in the Parkland area. The initiative positively impacts the lives of individuals and families, as well as communities and businesses within the Parkland region. This is the 20th year that Parkland College has offered scholarships to its students.

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For more information contact:
Brendan Wagner
Scholarship Committee Chairperson
Parkland College
Phone: 306.728.6595