BotsIQ "Challanges" Students

Student-participants of the BotsIQ Robotics Education Program might think the BotsIQ Challenge is destruction. To design and build a robot capable of denting, slashing, scratching, and gashing.

When two robots are removed of their safety restraints and unleashed inside a reinforced arena, it's certainly easy to get that impression.

Following the July 2008 competition at the Washington County Fair, Journal Sentinel writer Don Behm noted that, inside the arena, the 15-pound mechanical robots seemed more like gladiators:

And spectators cheered like Romans when Up Chuck, armed with a spinning bar and built by Slinger High School students, systematically destroyed Black Widow IV, an entry from Germantown High School...Up Chuck's steel bar lifted its opponent off the arena floor as the audience of 50 or so howled approval.

During a BotsIQ match, two robots participate in a head-to-head competition to outscore - and not necessarily destroy - each other. Students participate in an educational, engaging, and competitive environment with safety and operational limitations.

Regardless of the outcome, though, there is more to a BotsIQ competition than victory or defeat; students are able to nurture the core-principles of an advanced manufacturing career.

The true BotsIQ Challenge is not destruction at all, but construction (if not cleverly disguised). The construction of a multi-dimensional skill set, featuring mathematics, engineering, mechanics, teamwork, project management, and even public speaking.

According to the handout documentation, the official mission of BotsIQ is to "revitalize and promote scientific and technical education in middle schools, high schools, and post secondary institutions through robotics."

It makes perfect sense, then, that chief supporters of the Wisconsin chapter are area businesses, technical colleges, and manufacturing organizations.

BotsIQ gives students the opportunity to learn and develop apprenticeship level skills before students are age-eligible to do so. Employers are discovering that participants of the BotsIQ program are more prepared to contribute.

"I need employees with hydraulic and electronic aptitude or experience," says shop-owner Bill Gilbert, "I hired my last employee solely because he listed BotsIQ club on his resume. He is working out great."

BotsIQ is nonprofit, national program inspired by the television series BattleBots®. The next BotsIQ Wisconsin competition will be held on April 4 at Discovery World, from 11:00 am until 6:00 pm.

The event is free to the public with discounted ($5.00) parking, and will be located inside of Discovery World's Innovation Theatre (simulcast in the Digital Theatre), a stadium-seated amphitheatre strangely reminiscent of a coliseum.