BGSU to host robotics competition for middle, high school teams


BOWLING GREEN, O.—Bowling Green State University has joined forces with BEST Robotics Inc. to host for the first time this fall a robotics competition for area middle and high school students.

An agreement between BGSU’s College of Technology and BEST Robotics Inc. has established the Falcon BEST Hub, the only one in Ohio, Michigan and Indiana.  The program provides students with a pre-college, real-world engineering experience that incorporates the practical application of math and science in a fun, team-based robotics-building project.

BEST, which stands for Boosting Engineering, Science and Technology, aligns well with the college and university’s focus of increasing education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), said Dr. Faris Malhas, dean of the College of Technology.

The competition starts at Kickoff Day when the teams are given their robotics supplies including plywood and a box filled with items such as PVC pipe, screws, an irrigation valve, piano wire, an aluminum paint grid, a bicycle inner tube, “a micro-energy chain system” and other odds-and-ends.  The teams are also provided returnable items to include VEX Robotics control system kit, servo kit, and belt and pulley kit.  With the guidance of community mentors, each team’s challenge is to design and build a functioning competitive robot in six weeks.

The Falcon Hub will host its Kickoff Day on Sept. 14, 2013 at Perry Field House on BGSU’s campus.  Mall Day on Oct. 12 will give the teams the opportunity to test their robots before the local competition, which will be held Oct. 26 at BGSU’s Stroh Center.

BGSU is working with BEST Inc., a nonprofit organization based at Auburn University in Georgia, to bring the robotics competition to the area. Each fall nearly 750 middle schools and high schools and more than 11,000 students participate in the competition at other BEST hubs across the country. There is no fee for schools to participate

“Because of the proximity to the automotive industry, we decided this program would be a plus for young adults in this region,” Malhas said. “We want to use our expertise in the college to offer 9-18 year olds the opportunity to solve real-world science and engineering problems, to understand what engineers do and to experience design-to-market product development,” Malhas added.

Dr. Wayne Unsell, professor, construction management, and Dr. Todd Waggoner, professor, engineering technologies, are spearheading the inaugural year of the Falcon BEST Hub.  Dr. Unsell serves as Falcon BEST Hub Director and Dr. Waggoner serves as Falcon BEST Operations Director.  They will be recruiting teams from schools, as well as mentors and volunteers to help with the competition.

“We are looking forward to bringing this unique robotics competition to students in the region,” said Unsell. He encouraged any school or home school groups interested in participating, or individuals or groups that would like to volunteer to help with the competition to contact him via email at cunsell@bgsu.edu.

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(Posted April 17, 2013 )