Appetite for Destruction: Heights BattleBot Wins, NS Mentors
Cleveland Heights High School students mentored by Nottingham Spirk associates took first and second place in the recent gladiator-style AWT RoboBots Battle in Northeast Ohio. It was another big step forward for an after-school robotics program that’s been growing, thanks to ongoing commitment from students, teachers and corporate partners.
The Heights High Robotics Club started with just a few students five years ago, and now boasts more than two dozen members. Club membership has grown alongside participation in the Principles of Engineering classes taught by Greg Nachman, who also serves as the robotics club’s faculty adviser.
Nottingham Spirk has been involved from the start, and we’ve scaled up as the club has gotten larger and more ambitious. Our efforts have been coordinated by engineer Jim Szpak, who visits the school frequently for meetings. Students sometimes visit NS’s Innovation Center as well, as they and our associates collaborate on the design and building of the battle bots. The team is also supported by Dunham Products, Talan Products and Dr. Allen Wilkinson, a retired NASA scientist.
“We are so thankful for the support from NS,” Nachman says. “It’s truly astounding how many hours and materials that are donated to allow the students to be successful. With two teams this year, Jim took on managing a huge beast of logistics and engineering, in addition to mentoring all of those students. I feel so grateful to have all of this support. John Spirk came to the competition and they kids were very excited about it.”
The RoboBots Battle is organized by the Alliance for Working Together Foundation, which promotes careers in manufacturing and serves as a regional chapter for the National Robotics League. This year’s competition drew 20 high school and 27 middle school teams this year. Heights finished in third last year, but this time the school’s Black and Gold teams finished first and second, respectively.
“It was one of the best feelings I’ve ever experienced,” recalls junior Eric McCallum, the Gold team driver. “The anticipation was the part that hit me hard. But in the moment, I was able to tune out all the noise and focus on commands from the coach.”
Black team driver Gabriel Gosselin, who recovered from what he described as a “rough” first-round match, also talked about the importance of focusing amid the chaos of the battle. But after, he adds, “I lost my voice from screaming. It was exhilarating. There’s nothing better.”
The team is now preparing for the National Robotics League Competition at California University of Pennsylvania, May 19-20.
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