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How an after-school club turned into a career journey

Declan, Mark, Matthew, and Xavier come from different backgrounds and have varying interests, but the one thing they have in common is building robots.


Supported by the University of Tasmania, Devil Robotics meets once a week to learn the fundamentals of designing, building and programming robots. University students mentor club participants who are in year five and up, often after they’ve spent time as a ‘Devil’ themselves.

Declan Cooper is in his third year of the Bachelor of Science, majoring in Physics and Mathematics.

Declan started attending Devil Robotics after watching his brother compete at the FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) and is inspired by the idea of what robotics mean for our future.

“I think robotics will become more and more evident in everyday use. They are already a massive part of society without people even realising it. The work I hope to do would include the use of robotics in astrophysics.”

Declan knew that he wanted to study at University and thankfully his choice of where was simple.

I chose to study at the University of Tasmania because of their amazing astrophysics work and creditability in the field.

Mark Stack’s interests were also in maths and science, and he first became involved with Devil Robotics during Year Six. He’s now a mentor to younger participants while he studies the Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Engineering (Specialisation) with Honours.

“During high school I got the chance to participate in FRC during the first year of the group that ended up turning into Devil Robotics. From then on, I had the basic plan to try and go to university and do engineering. I added a Bachelor of Science as I had a lot of interest in maths.”

After considering programs interstate, Mark chose the University of Tasmania for a deeply personal reason.

“I decided that going to UTAS would be the best as it would let me have the support of my family and mean that I could focus on my studies more.”

The best parts of Devil Robotics for me are the skills I get to learn and the like-minded individuals that I get to interact with. Having all the other students and mentors around gives a great environment to learn and gain experience.

Matthew McKeown went from dropping out of school to enrolling in a Bachelor of Information and Communication Technology (Software Development) thanks to Devil Robotics.

In high school, he began taking online classes which renewed his interest enough that he returned to school for year 11 and 12 at Hobart College where he stumbled into Devil Robotics.

Rob Torok, Devil Robotics organiser, taught Matthew at college and encouraged him to join the club but it wasn’t until his friend Xavier demanded he try it that he gave it a go. Matthew has had the opportunity to be involved in several competitions, including the national FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC). Devil Robotics participates in a range of competitions including FIRST LEGO League, RoboCup Junior and Young ICT Explorers.

Matthew went from not seeing a future in formal study to starting his first year in 2020 at the University of Tasmania thanks to a club of like-minded people all striving for one goal.

From my involvement in Devil Robotics this year, I've discovered a passion for designing and coding. After being part of the FRC build season, I felt that the Bachelor of ICT - Software Development was the right decision for me.

Matthew joins his friend Xavier Lim, also studying Bachelor of Information and Communication Technology, and they continue to work as mentors to Devil Robotics club members.

Xavier had always been interested in all things computing, but it was engineering and mechatronics that brought him to Devil Robotics.

“When I learnt about the robotics group, I instantly wanted to find out more so I signed up. I spent the whole of last year volunteering and mentoring the junior group and loved it!”

Xavier has learned more about the possibilities that STEM has for future careers.

Interested in Information and Communication Technology? Apply now to study a Bachelor of Information and Communication Technology.

I see the possibility, with autonomous cars on the rise, that robotic and autonomous systems will someday rule the world of technology. I would love to be a part of this global change.

Find out more about Devil Robotics