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Lenape Tech wins area's first BattleBots IQ competition

| Tuesday, June 13, 2006

A 15-lb. metal robot named Ila may be Southwestern Pennsylvania's first BattleBots IQ champion, but it was Lenape Tech students who emerged from the regional competition as the real winners. A team of six students from Armstrong County provided the technical skill and brainpower that fueled the robotic warrior's undefeated romp through the competition at the May 13th event held at Westmoreland Mall in Greensburg. The students, under the guidance of Lenape Tech's CADD/Pre-Engineering instructor Heather Simpson, successfully integrated design, engineering, programming, and manufacturing concepts in the construction of Ila. The integrated learning opportunity involved 11th grade students from the school's CADD/PET, Precision Machining, and Welding programs.

"BattleBots takes planning, strategy and teamwork," Lenape Tech team captain Dan Brown, a junior in the school's CADD/Pre-Engineering program says. "I feel that we were successful because each member of the team was involved in every aspect of design, construction, and pre-battle strategy. Our team members each had a specific skill or knowledge that they could contribute, but it was the fact that we worked together throughout the project that made all the difference in the end."

Lenape Tech partnered with Oberg Industries, who provided both financial support and technical assistance for BattleBots IQ. Oberg Industries employees supporting the initiative include Steve Williams, Dave Bachelier, Lucas Foster, Bob Brinner and Greg Chambers. Chambers approached the school with the idea of sponsoring a team earlier in the school year. "We are very fortunate to have community partners like Oberg Industries who play vital role in advising us on curriculum, providing internship opportunities, and supporting enrichment programs like BattleBots IQ," Dawn Kocher-Taylor, Lenape Tech director says.

Lenape Tech competed against eight teams from other Western Pennsylvania technical schools. The battles took place in a 12-foot-by-12-foot arena with two remote-controlled BattleBots squaring off against each other. The regional event was sponsored by the National Tooling and Machining Association, Pittsburgh Chapter. Earlier this year, students from 26 states competed in a national competition held in Miami. A team from Bloomsburg Area High School in Columbia County won top honors.

According to Simpson, the school plans to continue to participate in BattleBots IQ next year with the goal of qualifying for the national competition. As for Ila, which is the Lenape Indian word for warrior, the battle-tested champion may retire undefeated or undergo re-engineering for further competition. Simpson adds that Lenape Tech might enter two BattleBots in next year's regional competition, which would allow students in Lenape Tech's junior and senior classes to participate.

The first-place Lenape Tech team earned a trophy for their efforts, and each member received a gold medal and a $250 scholarship award from Westmoreland County Community College. Lenape Tech also won the competition's Sportsmanship Award, a recognition that Kocher-Taylor sees as very important. "Although we're excited about the team's success in winning the first regional BattleBots IQ competition, we're equally proud of the fact that they earned the Sportsmanship Award," she says. "Our students helped other teams to repair their BattleBots, and conducted themselves in a way that represented their school very well."

Lenape Tech's BattleBots IQ team (front row, from left) team captain Dan Brown and driver Nick Danish; and (back row) Shawn Boyer, Seth Hawk, instructor Heather Simpson, Kyle Cacurak and Tim Daugherty.

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