WINDSOR, ONT. -- Five local high school graduates and FIRST robotics alumni will receive $1,000 toward their post-secondary studies.

The bursaries are provided by Windsor-Essex FIRST Robotics (WEFR), a group that delivers and promotes FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Canada programming throughout Windsor-Essex and Chatham-Kent.

"It is always a pleasure reading the students’ submissions, but hard to choose only five,” Michelle Bondy, WEFR board member who chaired this year’s bursary selection committee said in a news release. “This year’s applicants had very impressive and diverse experiences, and ambitious goals for their future. The one commonality is the role that FIRST Robotics has played in providing them with opportunities to grow as student leaders."

FIRST Robotics Competition is an international robotics program where high school students along with teachers and professional mentors design and build 120 lb. robots. The “game” the robots are meant to compete is announced six weeks before the competition and changes each year.

The bursaries have been awarded to:

  • Akos Balint, Catholic Central High School (Team 7800), University of Windsor, Sociology and Criminology
  • Jack Bortolin, Hon. W. C. Kennedy Collegiate Institute (Team 5408), University of Windsor, Visual Arts and the Built Environment
  • Alyssa Derikx, St. Anne Catholic High School (Team 4688), University of Windsor, Chemistry
  • Matthew Sterling, Ursuline College Chatham Catholic Secondary School (Team 5689), Conestoga College, Mechanical Engineering Technology – Robotics and Automation with Co-op
  • Zeinab Wehbe, École Secondaire de Lamothe-Cadillac (Team 4938), University of Windsor, Nursing

"Now more than ever, it is important to recognize the accomplishments and efforts of our local FIRST Robotics teams. These five individuals serve as shining examples of the spirit of FIRST in our community" said Larry Koscielski chair of Windsor-Essex FIRST Robotics.

These grants are awarded annually and have been named in honour of James Broom and Spencer James, a student and mentor of FIRST Robotics teams at Maranatha Christian Academy and Belle River District High School respectively, who passed away in 2014.

"Both James and Spencer inspired the people around them, and we established this bursary to honour that legacy" said Koscielski.

There are now more than 17 high schools and 48 grade school robotics teams competing in Windsor-Essex and Chatham-Kent, more than 1,000 students were involved in FIRST this year.