Winners crowned at national robotics league championship
Students' display high technology robotic skills in two-day competition designed to help attract students to high-paying technical careers.
With sparks flying and metal grinding, 29 robots built by 91 students from 14 schools battled for national recognition in two days of intense battle at the National Tooling and Machining Association's (NTMA) 2011 National Robotics League (NRL) Championships held May 21-22 at Vincennes University’s Aviation Technology Center in Indianapolis, Ind.
Bloomsburg (Penn.) Area High School’s Pixie received the highest overall point score as a result of a combination of points earned through the robot's performance and documentation submitted with the robot, and was declared the "2011 NRL National Champion." The school was awarded a $500 check from the NRL to support the robotics program.
NTMA founded the NRL to help change misperceptions about manufacturing and attract students to high-paying technical careers. The program partners teams of middle school, high school, and post-secondary school students with local NTMA manufacturers who work together to build machines designed to do battle and test ingenuity. The result is the creation of incredible 15 lb robotic machines and fun and exciting events, all while building high tech skills and sparking the interest of students about careers in manufacturing. The bleachers were packed with cheering fans watching rounds of metal-crunching competition in the Plexiglas arena.
A volunteer panel of three judges from the Indiana Chapter of the NTMA scored each round, with points awarded for combat and engineering. NTMA Board Chairman Grady Cope, CEO of Reata Engineering & Machine Works in Englewood, CO, presented trophies to the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place teams.
"The large numbers of students, parents, teachers, and volunteers that the NRL brought together exceeded our expectations," said NTMA Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Rob Akers. "The NRL program is one of the best mechanisms we have found to attract students into our industry and teach them about the highly-technical, well-paying career opportunities in manufacturing.”
Bloomsburg also received recognition for “Coolest Robot” (Excessive Force) by a vote of all the student participants. Competition judges awarded Fayette County (GA) Area Vocational Technical School a certificate for “Best Documentation” for their Grim Reaper III robot, and University of South Florida Robotics Interest Group's The Brain, was awarded first place in the day's competition.
“One of the most educationally effective components of the weekend was the professional review of the engineering documentation and personal interviews with the student teams, said Michael Bastoni, coach of the Plymouth (MA) North High School Team. "This represents 'Best Practice' with respect to project-based learning and authentic assessment and was a particularly beneficial experience for the student designers and builders."
The NRL Championship was sponsored by DMG/Mori Seiki, Grainger, and DS SolidWorks.
The top three finishers in the robot battle competition:
1st Place: University of South Florida, Tampa, FL
Team: USF Robotics Interest Group
Robot: The Brain
2nd Place: Bloomsburg Area High School, Bloomsburg, PA
Team: Malicious Intent
3rd Place: Venango Technology Center, Oil City, PA
Team: Joy Manufacturing
NTMA is the national association representing the precision custom manufacturing industry, which employs more than 440,000 skilled workers in the United States. Its mission is to help members of the U.S. precision custom manufacturing industry achieve business success in a global economy through advocacy, advice, networking, information, programs and services. Many NTMA members are privately owned small businesses, yet the industry generates sales in excess of $40 billion a year. NTMA’s nearly 1,300 member companies design and manufacture special tools, dies, jigs, fixtures, gages, special machines and precision-machined parts. Some firms specialize in experimental research and development work.