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Meadville Tribune: RoboBOTS teams gear up for annual educational 'bot brawl'

NTMA featured in Meadville Tribune article.

Monday, March 13, 2017

No foolin’, the annual RoboBOTS competition returns to Meadville on April 1st for its 11th year.

RoboBOTS is a hands-on robot-building contest designed to stimulate interest in technical education careers by having students build 15-pound robots that go into head-to-head battles in an arena at Meadville Area Senior High School.

The competition gets underway at 9 a.m. April 1 in the school’s gymnasium. The admission-free event easily draws more than 1,000 spectators each year.

During the previous 10 years, an estimated 2,010 students and 13,500 spectators have seen the event, according to the northwestern Pennsylvania chapter of the National Tooling and Machining Association, a trade group for the industry. The local NTMA chapter sponsors the event.

“It’s really a great outreach to get kids interested and immersed in the manufacturing side of the tooling trade,” said Ken Kuhn, president of Kuhn Tool & Die of Meadville and a past president of the local NTMA chapter.

There are more than 40 teams from 20 schools in the region participating this year. Each team is designing and building a 15-pound robot to do battle in the double-elimination tournament.

It’s the learning process itself that has made the RoboBOTS competition successful, according to backers like Kuhn. While students have fun building the robots, they are learning the practical applications of math and science, but also developing life skills.

“They’re learning how to work together as a team, think outside the box and become problem solvers,” Kuhn said. “When they’re at the actual competition, they have to think on their feet and find a way to fix a problem if something goes wrong.”

Chris Minnis, president and owner of Laser Tool & Plastics, believes RoboBOTS is a great way to get kids involved in technical careers.

“I love it,” said Minnis, who also chairs the northwest Pennsylvania NTMA Education Foundation, which offers educational scholarships to post-secondary students pursuing a career in tooling and machining or manufacturing industries.

“It’s been tremendous for us in increasing the applications for scholarships to continue their education in colleges or trade-related schools,” Minnis said. “The RoboBOTS program really has made them aware of our industry.”

Read more here.