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Extreme BOTS showcases ingenuity, careers

By Steve Bennish - Staff Writer

With combatants named Warhead, Ohio Chainsaw Massacre and The Battle Axe, the only thing missing from this cage fight is the “Mad Max” action film character.

This morning at Wright State University’s McLin Gymnasium at the Nutter Center, 45 teams of local high school and college students will unleash their robots in battles to the death.

It’s all part of the annual Xtreme BOTS exhibition. The remotely controlled robots they designed and built will beat, upturn, crash, bulldoze and otherwise put opponents out of commission.

The battling bots contest is free and open to the public, but organizers are asking for a $5 donation from visitors.

There should be enough action for a Hollywood flick and a sequel or two. Although no blood will be shed, expect sparks and robots to fly, spin, lose control and turn upside down.

“Anything short of machine guns,” is how Dan Griffith, president of manufacturer Dysinger Inc., put it. Griffith, who has been involved in organizing the event since 2007, says the robot battles have a serious side.

It’s the real life experience that students get in design, engineering, metal working, electronics, team work and leadership — not to mention tactics. The students, about 225 in all, are bound for manufacturing and engineering careers and many, including teenagers, already have jobs lined up. Griffth has hired a few.

Each team is paired with a manufacturing company to help them build the team’s design. Robots have entered competition with weapons like saw blades or chains.

It’s the fun side of workforce development and STEM education, as in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.

Josh Entingh, 17, was there from Centerville with “Frostbite,” a robot in the shape of a skateboard ramp with a spinning beater attached. “I’m learning all the machines in machine shop,” he said. “I’d love to work with the Air Force in designing airplanes.”

Matthew Colosimo, 16, arrived with a team from Ponitz Career Tech Center. “It’s about the fundamentals of teamwork,” he said. “It showed me what works and what doesn’t.”

Congressman Mike Turner, R-Dayton, is scheduled to attend and to present awards to the winners.

There’s a Career Exhibition area along with a 3D printing display, a UAV display, a life-size walking robot, a working Motoman training robot and presentations throughout the day by the Wright State University Engineering program.

Participants include Centerville High School, Kettering Fairmont High School, Wright State University, EHOVE Career Center of Milan, Oakwood High School, Miami Valley Career Technology Center, Coldwater High School, Dixie High School, Springboro High School, Amelia High School, Milford High School, Chaminade Julienne High School and the Ponitz Career Tech Center.

The Xtreme BOTS program began seven years ago as a project of the Dayton Region Manufacturers Association. DRMA turned over management a new organization, Ohio Robotics Inc., led by DRMA members Griffith, Steve Staub, President of Staub Manufacturing Solutions and Bryan Jackson of Miami Valley Career Technology Center.

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