Robots Rumbling: Student Builders to Meet for Annual Grand Showdown

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4th Annual BattleBots IQÂ? National Competition will be at Universal Studios Orlando, April 13-16, 2005. Over 120 teams of students from around the country gathering to test their skills.

Imagine this: Two robots squaring off against one another in an arena much like the Roman Gladiators did centuries ago. However, this won’t be simply a matter of strength and endurance. What makes this contest even more interesting is that the robots will be designed, built and driven by students in middle school, high school, and college.

The games and fun will begin for real on April 13th, when over 120 teams from schools around the country will begin their annual face-off in the BattleBots IQ™ National Competition. Guided by teachers and mentors and supported by the BattleBots IQ Curriculum, these teams have been working on their robots throughout the school year. Now it's the Final Test! Can their robot survive and prevail in a showdown with another robot, then receive the necessary re-hab to return again for another bout (in an hour!)?

According to BattleBots IQ CEO Nola Garcia, "The student robot builders of today are the innovators of tomorrow. They begin working with an idea and a pile of parts. They experience the thrill of seeing their inventions come to life and responding to their control and direction -- it's hard work, but a lot of fun as well. In the process of robot building, students' imaginations are captured while they design, build and compete with their own robotic creations, also gaining practical knowledge of math, science, engineering and manufacturing. You can see inventing better robots as a metaphor for inventing better lives: these students definitely exhibit the skills and attitudes that they need for future success, and will be leaders in the American workforce of the future."

Teams are coming to the BattleBots IQ National Competition from middle schools, high schools, vocational schools, colleges and universities, and competitors range in age from 12-22. Among the registered participants, 23% are female, demonstrating the growing interest and prowess of young women in the fields of science and engineering.

The teams will compete in one or more of three divisions with two age classes:

  • TableTop, the 12 pound task-oriented division
  • Mini Class, the 15 pound battling robot division making its national debut at this Competition
  • Large Class, the 120 pound battling robot division

-, College Large Class, the 120 pound battling robot division for college students

Among the celebrities from the worlds of education and science who will be taking part in the Annual Competition are John Winn, Florida's Commissioner of Education, and Sharon Burnette, the Governor of Florida's Teacher-in-Residence. Visitors from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory include Richard Petrus and Kevin Watson, both from the Mars Exploration Rovers team, who will be among the competition's judges, along with Col. Jose Negron, USAF (ret), the Program Manager of the 2004 DARPA Grand Challenge.

Other judges are Amy Sun of MITLabs; William Garcia de Quevedo of Zymequest, a mentor, former competitor and MIT graduate; Jim Smentowski of RobotMarketplace.com, a mentor as well as a giant in the world of robotics; and Dr. Peter Drewes, Program Manager for Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), the largest employee-owned research and engineering firm in the United States.

Completing the judging panel are Brian Nave, Sr. Design Engineer with Contemporary Machinery & Engineering Services Inc., who is also co-host of the DIY Network show "Robot Rivals" and organizer of the annual Battle Beach event in Daytona Beach FL; and Joanne Pransky, The World's First Robotic Psychiatrist®, and the U.S. Associate Editor for Industrial Robot Journal and the new International Journal of Medical Robotics and Computer Assisted Surgery.

Early check-in and safety and technical inspections begin on Tuesday, April 12th. The Competition will wrap up with award presentations in the afternoon of Saturday, April 16th.

About BattleBots IQ

BattleBots IQ (BBIQ) is the educational program created by the producers of the wildly successful BattleBots® television series in which homemade, remote controlled robots face-off in competition. As the television show grew in popularity, so did the number of student fans who wanted to build competitive robots of their own. It soon became evident that this activity, the sport of robots in competition, also had the potential to make a powerful and positive educational impact.

In 2001, the creators of BattleBots® initiated BattleBots IQ™ with three components:

1. A Robotics Curriculum, based on the National Curriculum Standards and Massachusetts Institute of Technology's (MIT) mechanical engineering methodology;

2. Teacher Training Institutes around the country; and

3. An annual National Competition where students showcase their custom built robots as they compete for top honors.

Institutional and corporate sponsors have a vested interest in BattleBots IQ. Not only does BBIQ help to create intelligent, bright, self-confident kids with a full palette of solution-building skills, but BattleBots IQ is training a workforce who will know how to trouble shoot, problem solve and invent new technology, which is exactly the kind of employee corporations are looking for today. BattleBots IQ: Changing the Way America Educates!

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Karen Picciano