geekStarter Community Highlights – April 2017

geekStarter’s Robotics Workshop
Our first robotics workshop took place in Calgary on April 9. Many thanks to our awesome speakers and panelists, and congrats to the teams for their presentations! Read more here.

Guest speakers Mohammad Moshirpour, Doug Rosvick, and Emily Marasco with our robotics teams from Fort McMurray and Calgary at April 9 workshop

Guest speakers and panelists Mohammad Moshirpour, Emily Marasco, and Doug Rosvick with our robotics teams from Fort McMurray and Calgary at the workshop

geekStarter teams in First Robotics competition

APEX Robotics FR Team 5897 ranked 6th at Western Canada First Robotics Regionals

APEX Robotics FR Team 5897 ranked 6th at this year’s West Canada First Robotics Competition

On April 5-8, teams Trappers, RoboMaidens and APEX Robotics competed in the First Robotics – Western Canada Regionals at the Olympic Oval in Calgary. This was a most exciting and fast-paced competition involving 50 teams from across the world. The competition consisted of a series of matches in which three-team alliances raced their robots to get their airships ready for flight. The better prepared their airship was at the end of each match, the more points the alliance would win. After a tough two days of matches, APEX Robotics, RoboMaidens, and Trappers finished their First Robotics season and took home new learnings from this amazing experience, as well as some very exciting results.
RoboMaidens Team with their robot at West Canada FR Competition in Calgary

RoboMaidens Team with their robot at West Canada FR Competition in Calgary

Updates from UAlberta Problem Solving Club
Alberta Gold – the ACM-ICPC team which advanced to the 2017 World Finals – is currently training assiduously and takes part in 4-5 hour long practice contests every Saturday. These contests often involve other ACM-ICPC teams from across Canada, including other 2017 finalists such as the Pacific Northwest region champions from UBC. Keep it up!

Alberta Gold Team is headed to the ACM-ICPC World Finals

Alberta Gold Team is headed to the ACM-ICPC World Finals

In preparation for the next season, the club recently held an outreach programming contest which gathered a total of 110 participants, including computer science teachers and 22 high-school students from the Edmonton area. Thanks to connections established by the undergrad computing science society from University of Alberta, local IT companies made prize donations at the event – a most welcome surprise and promising sign for the club’s future endeavors.

Ross Sheppard High-School team in Edmonton continued to work on their various raspberry Pi projects, trying to iron out any problems so they can move on to tackling the drones. More recently, they’ve been trying their hand at GoPro in an effort to document their work in video format and share it with the community.  The team’s ambition is to use drones to obtain overhead footage of Sheptacular – Ross Shep’s summer extravaganza – and they are getting really excited. Way to go!


Team members from Notre-Dame Collegiate extracting DNA from engineered bacteria

Team members from Notre-Dame Collegiate extract DNA from engineered bacteria

Notre Dame Collegiate Syn Bio team from High River built their own shaker incubator and moved forward with their project design.
Since their shake table broke, the team spent the past few months designing and building a shaker-incubator with help from an electrical engineer from the community. Check out this video showing the final product. Once their DIY shaker-incubator was working, the students went back to their wetlab experiments.
Meanwhile, with help from their team mentors, the team continued their research on several aspects of the project, such as how to express their genes of interest in bacteria and mechanisms behind existing pregnancy tests. Some of this research led them to re-design the genetic circuit for their main project: an ovulation-detection system for natural family planning. The plan now is to create a fusion protein made up of a colour reporter and part of the receptor for Luteinizing Hormone (LH). How is this supposed to work? Since LH levels are higher at ovulation, the hormone would attach to the receptor and produce a colour change. For longer shelf-life and to avoid storage issues, the team aims to build a bacteria-free system. We wish them good luck!