MDA, a Maxar Technologies company announced that it has partnered with FIRST Robotics Canada as a gold sponsor of the robotics competition “Destination: Deep Space.” In an epic space adventure of innovation with a build time of only six weeks, high school students collaborate in teams to engineer and program robots to compete across Canada. The competitions combine the excitement of a championship sporting event with the practical application of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) with mentorship from industry experts.
“MDA is an acknowledged world leader in space robotics, satellite communications, Earth observation and space science, with five decades of expertise that includes some of Canada’s most innovative accomplishments,” said Mike Greenley, group president of MDA. “This is exciting to be partnering in this truly impressive organization. Connecting the future leaders in technology with hands-on experience and real-time fun is a great way to spark interest in space and STEM studies.”
Each year, students in the FIRST program are faced with a focused challenge connected to relevant real-world topics, and this year, space is the chosen theme. Space touches the lives of Canadians 20-30 times a day, from weather predictions, to using an ATM, to checking a map on a smartphone, to downloading movies, to ground and air traffic management. Space applications will be even more pervasive in the future, as autonomous cars, smart cities and advanced autonomous AI-enabled robotics mature.
“FIRST Canada is thrilled to partner with MDA, Canada’s leading space company,” says Mark Breadner, president of FIRSTCanada. “Students are inspired by the innovations at MDA and can use the expertise and experience of the MDA team when imagining and building their projects this season. It’s absolutely critical to have these kids and youth thinking forward to the future of space discovery to become positive leaders in space advancement and STEM fields.”
MDA has a long and successful history as a trusted supplier of robotics and communications subsystems for the ISS. The Mobile Servicing System on the ISS is comprised of Canadarm2, the Special Purpose Dexterous Manipulator known as “Dextre” and the Mobile Base System. MDA built these innovative robotic systems that perform a variety of operations including resupply, maintenance and servicing tasks vital to the ongoing operations of the ISS. MDA also designed and built the Space Shuttle robotic arms, known as Canadarm, which wrapped up 30 years of successful operations when they were retired along with the Space Shuttle program after completing 90 missions.
Canada currently has the opportunity to leverage this proven industrial base to provide next generation AI-based robotics to the next space station, the Lunar Gateway. This type of program is expected to create thousands of high-quality space jobs within Canada over the next two decades.
“MDA feels strongly in the need to support the next-generation space workforce and ensure our best and brightest have opportunities to work in a revitalized Canadian space sector. That is why this opportunity to support FIRST Robotics Canada is so meaningful to us,” added Greenley.