A robotics engineer alarmed by Saskatchewan. education cuts


Fresh out of a major robotics competition, Misha Kovarsky worries today’s Saskatchewan. students don’t have the same opportunities as him.

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Misha Kovarsky reflects on his origins as he prepares to live his dream.

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Fresh off a strong showing at a prestigious robotics competition, with a degree from Queen’s University in his pocket, he’s preparing to work as a space systems engineer for MDA, the company building the latest version of the Canadarm, between other high-tech space equipment. Related projects.

While the work ahead is obviously a source of excitement, the 2017 graduate of Saskatoon’s Walter Murray Collegiate is still thrilled with how his varsity team fared in the University Rover Challenge, an international event in which 100 teams design and build prototype Mars rovers, which are then tested at a research station in the Utah desert.

Kovarsky was the pilot of the Queen’s Entry, leading their robot through a series of challenges guided only by the unit’s on-board equipment readouts and video.

They ended up placing 18th, beating teams from prestigious programs including American Ivy League schools and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Kovarsky said he was particularly proud of how the 250-person team was able to work remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic, even though it cost him some living space.

“I personally had the rover system in my living room for most of the pandemic,” he said, laughing as he recalled the soldering and grinding components.

The Queen’s University space engineering team’s Mars rover sits atop a rock formation in the Utah desert during the University Rover Challenge, an annual event hosted by the Mars Society. (Photo by Erik Ridings/Queen’s Space Engineering Team.)

As the rover’s pilot and the team’s technical director, Kovarsky said he benefited from the problem-solving and leadership skills he learned in the advanced math and outdoor education programs offered. by the Saskatoon Public School Division.

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He singled out his “absolute whirlwind” from a math teacher, Janet Christ, among the many educators who helped lay the foundation for success.

“I don’t think I would be as proficient in math as I am if it weren’t for someone so passionate about teaching,” he added.

Although Christ is retired, Kovarsky said he stays in touch with some of his other teachers and follows news from his home province — and he doesn’t like the state of the education system.

“To see the budget cuts at all levels in Saskatchewan and to see the lack of funding for special programs, but also general funding for teachers, is truly a disgrace,” he said.

Several school boards in Saskatchewan have cut teaching positions and imposed lunch supervision fees on families in recent weeks; Leaders say years of inadequate operating funds from the province have forced them to make cuts affecting students’ classroom experience.

Provincial officials responded by suggesting councils dip into reserves before charging additional fees.

A Saskatoon Public Schools spokeswoman said none of this year’s budget measures involved cuts to advanced classes or outdoor education, but noted budget pressures have resulted in a halving. enrollment in outdoor education six years ago.

Kovarsky was among the last to undergo outdoor training ahead of the cut. Overall, he worries that a lack of investment will mean fewer Saskatchewan kids like him will be able to discover their passions and then excel in them, he said.

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“That motivation really comes from that group of passionate teachers who are always there; they just don’t have, perhaps, the reach that they had as funding was reduced.

  1. Colleen MacPherson, chair of the Saskatoon Public Schools Board.

    Saskatchewan. schools cut services after what they call years of underfunding

  2. Saskatchewan school boards, frustrated with paying more for gas for buses, probably think the same about Premier Scott Moe as they do Ottawa.

    Fact check: Most Sask. school divisions are not sitting on money

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