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Roving, battling bots descend on Cal U

| Monday, Feb. 19, 2018, 3:09 p.m.
Above, robots created by students from Plum High School ('Interfector') and Eastern Westmoreland Career and Technology Center ('Redeemer') battle at the Southwestern Pennsylvania BotsIQ competition on April 28, 2017, at Cal U.
Patrick Varine | Tribune-Review
Above, robots created by students from Plum High School ('Interfector') and Eastern Westmoreland Career and Technology Center ('Redeemer') battle at the Southwestern Pennsylvania BotsIQ competition on April 28, 2017, at Cal U.

Battling bots are more than science fiction or children's toys these days.

The next generation of robots will be on display at four robotics competitions at California University of Pennsylvania this spring.

Cal U officials said the events, which kick off on March 17-18, are free and open to the public.

First, about 200 students from the region's high schools and middle schools will compete to build an underwater rover and test its performance in Cal U's Hamer Hall pool in the SeaPerch Underwater Robotic Competition, organized in collaboration with the Navy's Recruiting District in Pittsburgh.

The following week, on March 22-24, 1,100 high school students from around the world will gather at the Cal U Convocation Center to compete at FIRST@ power up. The teams will put their 120-pound custom-designed robots to the test in a challenge similar to a classic arcade game. Teams from China will join competitors from Pennsylvania, Ohio, New York, New Jersey, Michigan, Florida and Hawaii.

The BotsIQ, Southwestern Pennsylvania Regional Competition, featuring competitors from 85 regional school and community, will take the stage at the Convention Center April 12-14. The competition features 15-pound fighting robots. The event will mark the 13th annual BotsIQ competition , a manufacturing workforce development program of the Pittsburgh Chapter of the National Tooling & Machining Foundation.

Finally, as the school year ratchets down, the National Robotics League will take over the university's Convocation Center May 18-19 when competitors from 70 schools across the country send their robots into battle.

Debra Erdley is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 412-320-7996 or or via Twitter @deberdley_trib

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