Hempfield Area High School students to compete in BotsIQ finals
Together with their robot, 25 Hempfield Area High School students are preparing for their final battles at the BotsIQ Finals Competition, which features student-made robots battling for the top spot.
“Take NASCAR, boxing and MMA and put it together,” said Hempfield’s teacher advisor Craig Siniawski. “These kids have a small, 15-pound, highly technical robot. They’re putting it in a cage that’s basically bullet proof and trying to knock out the other robot.”
Working for most of the school year, the students design, create blueprints and build the robot — an effort that, so far, has 400 combined work hours.
After a design is created, some parts of the bot are sent out to companies like Composidie Inc., a metal stamping company, and General Carbide, a tungsten carbide tooling company. The companies donate their time and machines to the project.
Students then spend hours assembling the robot and getting it ready for battle, Siniawski said.
“It’s a time consuming but rewarding program,” he said. “The kids go to the physics teacher … they’re doing mass calculations. I’m sitting here looking at graphic design stuff. Everything we teach across the building is being done through this bot, so a lot of teachers appreciate what these kids do.”
Siniawski said several of his students have accepted positions at companies like Composidie Inc. and General Carbide after graduation, while others have continued on further an engineering education.
Students from all high school grade levels can participate in the program. Freshman typically observe, Siniawski said, getting a feel for which part of the process they want to participate in. After that, certain students are selected to be in groups that fix up the bot after it comes out of a battle, and a driver for the robot is selected.
So far, the project has thousands of dollars worth of materials and work done to it, all of which were donated.
On April 26-27, the students will travel to California University of Pennsylvania to compete for grand champion — a title they’ve held once in the past three years. Last year, they placed second in the nation.
Competing against schools like Pine-Richland, Fox Chapel and Punxsutawney, students face each school in a one-on-one battle with 20 minutes in between. During that time, professionals evaluate the robots to ensure they’re safe to use.
Hempfield’s BotsIQ team has been competing for 12 years.
“They don’t want to win on a technicality,” Siniawski said. “They want to win because they outlast the other one.”
Megan Tomasic is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Megan at 724-850-1203, [email protected] or via Twitter .