Robots Lead Student Warriors toward Engineering Careers

By Weaver, Rachel | Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, April 14, 2011 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Robots Lead Student Warriors toward Engineering Careers

Weaver, Rachel, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

For some students, a competition in which robots battle for victory serves as more than a unique learning experience -- it can be a pathway to a career.

In the days since the preliminary round of the annual BotsIQ competition, teams of students from across Western Pennsylvania have been working out the kinks of their robot fighting machines while gearing up for the finals this weekend at Westmoreland County Community College in Youngwood.

"This is a really unique, dynamic way to engage high school students and teach them the central skills for future careers," said Erin O'Donnell, communications specialist with Peoples Natural Gas, the event's corporate sponsor. "The manufacturing sector is so important to Pennsylvania."

Working with a curriculum based on Massachusetts Institute of Technology mechanical engineering methodology, students are taught to design, build and battle robots in a gladiator-style competition. In Western Pennsylvania, the program started in 2005 with six teams. This year, 40 groups participated.

The competition draws on students' knowledge of math, science and engineering. With the help of industry and technical advisers, students get a glimpse of the real world of engineering and manufacturing.

"We wanted to provide some way to show students in schools today what manufacturing is," said James Rugh, member of the BotsIQ management committee.

Rugh works for Apollo-based metal stamping company Composidie, Hempfield Area Senior High School's business partner. Participating companies often invite students to tour their facilities and sometimes even use their equipment to build the robots.

Engineering a career

Alex Udanis, a 2010 Plum High School graduate and Community College of Allegheny County student, has stayed involved with the program as an adviser for several schools, including charter school Propel Braddock Hills. His goal is to help students realize "engineering can be fun and exciting and not necessarily just be a geeky thing."

"On paper, it looks really nerdy," said Udanis, 19, whose alma mater won the competition the past four years. "Once you get to the event, you realize how competitive it is."

Udanis remembers plenty of late nights during the national competition staying up in the hotel room with his teammates and trying to work quietly on their robot.

"I haven't gone to one yet that wasn't stressful," he said with a laugh.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Robots Lead Student Warriors toward Engineering Careers


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?