Student Teams Partner with Local Manufacturers to Design, Build, Destroy
Twenty-eight Northeast Ohio high school teams will go head to head at the seventh annual Alliance for Working Together (AWT) RoboBots Competition Saturday, April 29, from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Lakeland Athletics and Fitness Center.
Admission is free and doors open at 8 a.m.
RoboBots is a regional combat robotics competition presented by the AWT Foundation and sanctioned by the National Robotics League (NRL).
Each team has been paired with a local manufacturing company. Beginning in the fall, supplies and labor are donated by the manufacturing mentor. The high school teams meet, manufacture, build and test their 15-pound combat robot at the manufacturing facility.
“It’s important for the teams to actually get into the manufacturing shops,” said Alyson Scott, president of Fredon Corporation and AWT RoboBots chair. “We want them to get into these shops so that they can see what it’s really like.”
Company employees serve as technical advisors and mentors to the team to ensure success - even for novice teams with limited experience in engineering and manufacturing. Scott adds that sometimes these employers might notice a particularly hardworking student and even bring them a job application.
Bots are put through a safety inspection and weigh-in in order to qualify and compete. Teams in both classes must provide documentation of their project. High school teams must additionally present their work to a team of judges who will determine the winners of Best Team Presentation and Best Documentation. (Interviews take place behind closed doors; however, special arrangements can be made if media wish to observe.)
The Annual RoboBots is a double-elimination tournament. Two teams fight head-to-head in each three-minute battle. The winner is the last bot standing, or, if both bots are operational, the team earning the most points for aggression, control and damage advances. First, second and third place trophies will be awarded. High school teams also compete for top honors in the following categories: Best Engineered, Best Documentation, Best Sportsmanship and Coolest RoboBot. The Fan-Favorite Award is open to fans to vote through AWT RoboBots’ Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/AWTRoboBots). The 2017 team with the best documentation will receive a $1,000 prize thanks to support from SolidWorks and the NRL.
Return of the Junior Bots
Returning for the second year are Junior Bots teams from middle schools in Lake & Geauga counties. The Junior Bots competition begins at 12:30 p.m. in the Lakeland Athletics and Fitness Center.
As part of a state of Ohio grant, each team has been provided a kit for a mini combat robot. Teams are allowed to modify their bot designs and choose alternative weapons, which allows for scientific inquiry. Students may reach out their assigned manufacturing mentor for technical assistance as they work to keep their robot under the 2.2-pound weight limit, but also balance strength and aggressiveness.
In order to help teachers, the Lake County Educational Service Center has also developed a curriculum guide for the Junior Bots program. Teachers are then able to show what standards are being met as these teams (which may be clubs or classes) work together. Middle school students design, assemble, test and drive their bots; students also learn business and marketing skills during their team sessions. For example, teams design their logos, develop a budget for parts, and keep meeting minutes.
In this double-elimination tournament, two teams fight head-to-head in each 1.5-minute battle. The winner is the last bot standing, or, if both bots are operational, the team earning the most points for aggression, control and damage advances. First, second and third place trophies will be awarded at the conclusion of the tournament.
The Alliance for Working Together Foundation (AWT) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization whose members and supporters are working together to promote rewarding careers in manufacturing through building awareness of manufacturing careers, promoting enrollment in careers and training programs, working with training centers to ensure curriculum is relevant to today’s employers, and providing career support to those already in the field through programs like scholarships and camaraderie-building activities.