Don't be shocked two winters from now if you exit your ice-fishing shack on Rafferty Dam to see a robot zoom by on skates.
The Southeast Techhub in Estevan is teaming up with the Estevan Comprehensive School and Revelation Engineering to form Estevan Robotics. Estevan Robotics is aiming to create a bipedal robot.
Southeast Techhub Executive Director Gord More said he hopes to have their first iteration of a walking robot completed by June 2024.
The goal is to provide learning opportunities for students and to showcase Estevan as a hot spot for tech.
Students will be key players in a number of areas.
They'll be applying skills in classes including computer sciences, machining, drafting & Computer-Aided Design (CAD), mechanical and automotive, and entrepreneurship.
More has run the technology-based company IDS Internet Dispatch Services Ltd. for 16 years. He said this project will require a similar strategy.
"I really understand the individual roles of each group or department within a company such as this, and we're going to be using that same framework in the Comp so that not only are the kids learning about technology, but they're learning how the business technology works."
One of the first steps will be to build jousting robots on robotic horses.
"It's for the educational side," explained More. "We want to start small. We don't want to go straight to the bipedal robots. It's just something small that they can work on that's a lot of fun."
The hope is for these robots to have a jousting competition by around the end of this year or beginning of next year.
Revelation Engineering's lead designer Alan Nixon created a CAD file for the drafting students to build the jousting robots. Then things will get handed to the maching class for machining, the automated motor class for electronics, the computer science class for software, and the entrepreneurial class to market the end product.
"Go out into the community, into the local industry and ask them 'What do you need it to have to... solve problems in your business to get rid of pain points?'," said More. "Then we'll actually work with them to create a robot that work with the kids to create a robot to bring the that feedback in.
"Because at the end of the day for profit technology companies, that's how they operate. It's not just the skill set of the science of the coding, of the engineering. It's also the special skill set for the business."
"I am impressed by all the innovation in Estevan, so I want to show the world what Estevan is capable of doing. So the robot will be used... to showcase how innovative and intelligent our community is."
More referenced Estevan-born innovators Eric Grimson, MIT's Chancellor for Academic Advancement and computer sciences professor (who is giving a free presentation Thursday at Southeast College), and Microsoft Corporate Vice President Jeff Sandquist.
There's plenty of concern about artificial intelligence taking people's jobs. More believes it's not a matter of jobs being taken away, but an issue of a shifting career landscape... one he said today's youth are extremely capable at adapting to.
He said thriving in an age of rapidly-advancing technology boils down to being ahead of the curve.
"We're the ones in control. They're not going to put us out of work, they're going to change how we do things... Instead of Estevan being the disrupted, let's be make Estevan the disruptors."