SIUE Hosts Record 36 Teams at 2013 Botball Tournament

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Southern Illinois University Edwardsville hosts the seventh annual Greater St. Louis Botball Tournament on Saturday, April 20 in the Morris University Center Meridian Ballroom. A record 36 teams are registered for the competition that begins at 10 a.m.

Getting young people engaged in STEM ... is important because it helps develop critical thinking skills ...

Southern Illinois University Edwardsville hosts the seventh annual Greater St. Louis Botball Tournament on Saturday, April 20 in the Morris University Center Meridian Ballroom. A record 36 teams are registered for the competition that begins at 10 a.m.

Gary Mayer, Ph.D., an assistant professor of computer science in the SIUE School of Engineering, is one of the event organizers and is encouraged by the record participation.

“Botball puts the focus on the student as the students devise the solutions and implement them through the building of robots and programming robots’ behaviors,” Mayer said. “Getting young people engaged in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) activities such as the botball program is important because it helps develop critical thinking skills that can be applied to any career field.”

The theme of this year’s tournament is the Mars Sample Return (MSR) Mission. The students are building autonomous robots that will travel around a game board with four goals:

  •     Retrieve samples cached by the Mars Science Laboratory, Curiosity
  •     Gather, sort, and separate unusual and interesting samples detected from orbit
  •     Load the samples into return containers
  •     Assemble the return vehicle (rocket) and prep it for launch

Mayer described the tasks in the tournament challenge as never having a single solution. The teams receive a kit with hundreds of parts such as sensors, motors and structural pieces. Students are free to be as inventive with the kit components as possible. The result is a fleet of unique robots that allow the students to see the strengths and weaknesses of different approaches, especially in head-to-head competition.

Double elimination rounds begin at 2 p.m. An awards presentation is set for 5:30 p.m. For more information visit the regional tournament website.

Edwardsville High School is the defending champion.

The SIUE School of Engineering offers one of the most comprehensive and affordable engineering programs in the St. Louis region with eight undergraduate degrees, five master’s degrees and a cooperative doctoral program, all housed in a state-of-the-art facility. Students learn from expert faculty, perform cutting-edge research, and participate in intercollegiate design competitions. Companies in the metropolitan St. Louis area provide students challenging internships and co-op opportunities which often turn into permanent employment. All undergraduate programs are accredited by their respective accreditation agencies.

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Doug McIlhagga
Southern Illinois University Edwardsville
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