Leif Wartacz General Manager of Northern Europe at Elfa Distrelec
With a Bachelor’s Degree in Electronics and Applied Sciences (B.A.Sc.) and over 30 years’ experience in the industry, Leif Wartacz is now considered a trusted advisor amongst his peers. In his current role with Elfa Distrelec, Leif actively encourages his network to embrace future technologies and provides the knowledge and resources they require for innovation within their projects.
Bringing robotics to the next generation of engineers: Hell Robotics Norway
For the progression of the engineering field towards an innovative and sustainable future, nurturing a passion for tinkering, developing prototypes and critical thinking in the next generation is essential. Recognising a need to supplement the theoretical education Norwegian students were receiving at school with more practical applications of engineering, a local robotics team has inspired countless young people and set them on the path towards a career in science and technology. Hell Robotics holds summer camps as well as robotics and programming classes in local schools when they’re not working towards participating in FIRST Robotics Competition.
Introducing Hell Robotics
Built on the success of five friends competing in FIRST Lego League – an international competition organised by FIRST for elementary and middle school students – and looking for their next challenge, Hell Robotics was founded by Stian Nakken and his teammates when they realised that, unlike in lower years, their high school did not provide any programmes focused on the practical aspects of engineering. Taking on everything from recruiting a team and finding sponsors to developing their robot, the group’s initial goal was entering FIRST Robotics Competition as the competition’s first Norwegian team. In March of 2018, this dream became a reality when the new team competed in Istanbul, Turkey.
This only solidified their passion for robotics, and soon only competing in FIRST Robotics Competition once a year wasn’t enough anymore. The group wanted to pass on their own enthusiasm to the next generation of potential contestants and is now regularly hired by local schools to teach robotics and programming and to hold summer camps that will spark kids’ interest in engineering. One such summer camp took place in Trondheim at the beginning of June 2019.
The 2019 summer camp
From 22 to 25 June, Hell Robotics stepped into NTNU Kalvskinnet in Trondheim to hold a science camp focused on robotics and problem solving. Over the span of four days, 33 students aged 13-16 had the opportunity to work on their very own robotics project and get an introduction to practical engineering. Walking through the door on their first day, the young participants were greeted by Hell Robotics’ own robots Hellboy, Norbert and AutroBot – a taste of things to come.
Inspired by FIRST Tech Challenge, another robotics competition hosted by FIRST, the students were tasked with moving cubes around a game area using their own robots. In order to score points, participants needed to find a way for their creations to lift the cubes off the ground and place them into a goal in the middle of the game area, competing against each other one on one.
The participants were split into groups of two to three members, and each team was given a makeBlock set containing motors of various sizes, some basic sensors, structural parts, a pincher to grab the cubes as well as a central computer based on Arduino that connects to a phone via Bluetooth. During their time at the science camp, the students used these components to create their robots. They tested out many different versions of their final creations, and eventually each group built a robot that they took pride in and that could compete against the other teams.
Stian Nakken, one of the camp’s organisers, looks back fondly on the four days:
It’s truly amazing how many different approaches for their robots these kids come up with. Seeing students working on solving the tasks we set them with such enthusiasm reminds me of myself at that age, and I’m glad I get to pass on something I’m so passionate about. Everyone left our summer camp feeling inspired by being able to go beyond note taking in school – they all got to see that they have the opportunity to do so much more!
Hoping to further help the students keep their interest in robotics and maybe even become the newest members of Hell Robotics, Distrelec offered a steep discount on the Arduino Starter Kit and the Raspberry Pi 3 Model B for participants of the summer camp. Using these development boards ideal for beginners, design engineers in the making can start prototyping early.
In the meantime, Hell Robotics are already hard at work preparing for the next competition by FIRST in September: FIRST Global Challenge in Dubai. Representing Norway, the team will be competing against teams from other nations all over the world, fostering the spirit of robotics and securing many connections along the way. Having grown from the five initial founders to 24 members, it is now Hell Robotics’ biggest goal to raise awareness of FIRST Robotics Competition in Norway so that they soon won’t be the only team from their country competing. We’re sure we can expect great things from these young entrepreneurs, and we’ll certainly be keeping an eye on their progress!
Arduino Starter Kit
This kit walks you through the basics of using the Arduino in a hands-on way. You’ll learn through building several creative projects. The kit includes a selection of the most common and useful electronic components with a book (in English) of 15 projects.
Raspberry Pi 3 Model B
The Raspberry Pi 3 is an ARM-based 64-bit miniature PC that can be used for many applications. This open source project is the ideal platform for further developments and particularly suitable for integration into existing applications.