Students Bring 'Bots to the Battle

Highlands High School students completed robots and are ready to challenge local and statewide competitors next week at the annual Southwestern PA BotsIQ contest held at Century III Mall in West Mifflin.
Twenty one students in Mr. John Malobickys engineering course at the high school split into two teams and joined forces with local manufacturing businesses to create two robots worthy of gladiator-style battle.
Engineers and machinists from F-Squared, Inc. in Tarentum and Evco Corp., also in Tarentum, mentored and guided the novice robot builders for the past few months. In addition to advising the students, they supervised and provided machinery time for building the bots.
These students are learning invaluable lessons from skilled professionals in the field, right here in their own community, Mr. Malobicky said.
The teams will compete on Friday, April 16 and Saturday, April 17, at Century III Mall in West Mifflin. It is the fifth annual competition.
We've all gained a lot throughout this project, said senior student Kim Daloise, of team Axiom, which designed and built a robot named Wall-E. For example, it helped us to learn to be more responsible. With a project like this, we really had to do work efficiently as individuals and as a team. Also, it allowed us to see what a job in engineering would be like. It showed us how we would complete the individual tasks and how we would have to use our time wisely. Overall, it gave us a great feel as to what a future career in this field would be like.
Rachel Sportelli of team Jumbalia agreed. "Being involved in the BotsIQ competition is an experience in engineering and teamwork," she said.
The team members are: Mike Doucette, Kim Daloise, Jen Voytko, Ross Nelson, Nile Rodgers, Nick Karam, Joe Miller of TEAM AXIOM and Mark Zeiler, Mark McKrisky, Fred Sala, Rachel Sportelli, Mike Lenosky, Seth Edwards, Justin Jankowski of TEAM JUMBALIA.
BotsIQ has been identified as a positive force for the manufacturing industry in Southwestern Pennsylvania, garnering the attention of companies and organizations across the region. High school students learn about every aspect of robot building from design to remote operation in competition. While young people learn about robotics, they're also learning about the manufacturing sector and potential careers in the field.
This article originally published in April 2010.