Western Pennsylvania School for the Deaf
BotsIQ: A level playing field for students of all abilities.
Industry Technical Advisor: New Century Careers
WPSD BotsIQ Team
Tony Dimenno, a job coach at WPSD, has worked with Team WPSD two of the four years they have competed. He has found that Bots IQ is a perfect fit as part of the school’s vocational curriculum.
The blend of cognitive and manual skills is part of the attraction. “Some have ideas and plans about design that are great,” Tony says. “Others find the mechanical aspect is easier.” But one thing the 2010 teammates had in common — their motivation to learn to use the machinery.
All teams adapt in different ways. “We emphasized the safety aspect by focusing on the consequences,” Tony explains. The documentation paperwork – a competition requirement – is daunting for most teams. “We made sure we were communicating in ways that the team understood the reason for the paperwork, not just the words.”
But, in the end, BotsIQ seems to have a language of its own. At school, it was not unusual for students to just stop by to see how the bot was developing. “They had many questions about the bot we were building,” Tony says. “And the team was happy to answer all of them!” At the competition, Tony was amazed to find one of the team members so comfortable in the common ground of the BotsIQ environment that he proudly ushered members of other schools’ teams to check out “The Silencer.”
Highlands High School
BotsIQ: It is the most challenging thing we have ever done
Industry Technical Advisor: F- Squared & Evco Machining
John Malobicky and members of the Highlands Team
It was local manufacturer F Squared who came to Highlands High School in search of a BotsIQ partner. And they found mechanical
engineer-turned-teacher John Malobicky ready for the challenge.
John had written a curriculum for an entry-level course in engineering, which Robert Morris University had approved for three college credits. John was teaching it at Highlands. “BotsIQ requirements were an ideal match for the capstone project for the course,” John realized. “What’s more, it offered students hands-on application of the principles critical in meeting the course requirements: teamwork, scheduling, project management, budgeting and production control, among other engineering concepts.
Team Axiom produced its bot design with CAD at the school and then worked in RMU labs alongside college professors like Dr. Sushil Acharya and Dr. Arif Sirinterlikci to do the rapid prototype work.
John is an advocate for originality. While both Highlands teams are able to salvage parts from year to year, he wants students to gain as much engineering experience as possible. So they start from scratch each year.
“It takes a lot more time, “ he concedes. And students agree. ”It is the
most challenging thing we have ever done,” they write in their project evaluations. But in the end, they share a collective sense of pride: “We never thought we’d get it done!” And they did – for the second year in a row!
Eastern Westmoreland CTC
Bots IQ: The perfect educational tool to stimulate interest in the industry.
Industry Technical Advisor: Kennametal Knowledge Center & Westmoreland Mechanical Testing and Research, Inc.
A short conversation with Marie Bowers, administrative director at Eastern Westmoreland CTC, will convince you that her career move to career and technical education suits her. So it is no wonder she has been involved with BotsIQ all five years.
She credits manufacturing professionals like Hamill’s CEO Jeff Kelly and Human Resources manager Phyllis Miller for her initial interest. “The executives involved with BotsIQ as organizers and coaches for the teams are a great reflection on the industry,” Marie says.
Marie calls Bots IQ “the perfect educational tool to stimulate interest in the industry.” The students get real-life, workplace-like experience in the process. “The deadlines are real.” Westinghouse Mechanical Testing and Research and TSI Titanium, this year’s business partners, were generous not only with their time, but their resources. While the CTC can design and build a bot from scratch on-site, technical guidance and donations of supplies play a key role in producing a quality bot.
“BotsIQ brings together students from various departments – mechanical engineering, machining and welding – to work toward a common goal and solve problems. This results in cross training and teamwork that will carry over into the workforce someday,” Marie believes.
Eastern Westmoreland CTC 2010 Bots IQ Team
Business partners gain, too. “Competition days are great opportunities for students to network with potential employers,” says teacher/advisor Ken Pedder. More than one EWCTC student has caught the eye of a local manufacturer. Composidie Inc. in Apollo has a student completing his worksite co-op training there. And Oberg Industries in Freeport has expressed interest in a 2010 team member.