SCC/General Motors Robotics Challenge sees record participation

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Students learn real world use for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) subjects

Record numbers of middle and high school students competed at St. Charles Community College in the 16th annual Robotics Challenge on Friday, March 7, hosted by General Motors Wentzville Assembly Center and St. Charles Community College’s Workforce Development Department.

Student teams used LEGO® MINDSTORMS® robotics kits and worked together to design, build and program a robot modeled after a real-life pedestal spot welder used in manufacturing at General Motors. Brian Steber, senior manufacturing engineer at GM Wentzville, wrote the challenge.

“It’s really all about the kids,” Steber said. “They’ll remember this for the rest of their lives because it gives meaning to what they’re learning in school.”

Students were judged on their teamwork and presentation, in addition to design and engineering. Judges not only evaluated students, they also gave them practical advice.

“They are learning a big picture approach to problems,” said Ward Silver, an electrical engineer and judge. “In addition to engineering they learn planning and budgeting and how to connect financial resources.”

The judges were current and retired engineering professionals, from a variety of backgrounds. They offered expertise and words of encouragement to the students.

Students also attended breakout sessions throughout the day, where they were introduced to things like Rockwell Automation, vibration technology, animation and gaming, as well as how to make a plan for attending college.

“It’s essential that we serve the needs of our county and prepare kids for jobs in our region with science, technology, engineering and math,” said Stacy Myers, STEM coordinator for the City of St. Charles School District. For the first time teams competed from Hardin Middle School and St. Charles High School. Myers said the City of St. Charles district is in the process of integrating engineering, drawing and robotics into the curriculum.

More than 160 students competed in the Robotics Challenge this year. There were 29 teams from seven middle schools and three high schools, which were divided into four divisions. First place winners received LEGO® MINDSTORMS® Education EV3 Kits provided by General Motors. Students chose their own team names.

First place teams were “Tektite Welders” from Barnwell Middle School in the Gray Division, “The Bow Ties” from Barnwell Middle School in the Maroon Division, “Cougars” from Fort Zumwalt North Middle School in the Blue Division and “Nerdvana” from Winfield High School in the Black Division.

Second place teams were “Snap Dragons” from Barnwell Middle School in the Gray Division, “Mind Welders” from Barnwell Middle School in the Maroon Division, “Guapo Squad” from Barnwell Middle School in the Blue Division and “Lead Engineer Genius Org (L.E.G.O.)” from Fort Zumwalt South in the Black Division.

Third place teams were “Guinea Columbus Robotic League” from Hardin Middle School in the Gray Division, “Insta-blox” from Barnwell Middle School in the Maroon Division, “Cruisin’ Crusaders” from Assumption in the Blue Division and “Midnight Crew” from Winfield High School in the Black Division.

Tammie De Los Santos, SCC associate director of college and career readiness, coordinated the competition. For more information, contact De Los Santos at tdelossantos@stchas.edu.

St. Charles Community College is a public, comprehensive two-year community college with associate degrees and certificate programs in the arts, business, sciences and career-technical fields. SCC provides workforce training and community-based personal and professional development as well as cultural, recreational and entertainment opportunities. For more information, visit www.stchas.edu.