High school students from across the region duked it out with handcrafted robots Saturday at
RMU hosted the First Tech Challenge regional-qualifying robotics competition, drawing more than 200 high school students from Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia and New York.
Students battled with kit robots in the daylong tournament, vying for a spot in the state and world-level competitions, where they can earn scholarships.
Student teams spent weeks designing, assembling and programming the robots to compete in the tournament. Engineering students from RMU, Carnegie Mellon and West Virginia University volunteered to work with high schoolers at the event.
Students were required to program the remote-operated bots to pick up crates, bowling balls and small rubber balls, accruing points and working alongside team members to devise strategies for the machines.
RMU mechanical engineering professor Arif Sirinterlikci said the tournament has a real-life application for the students.
"They work with motors, censors, design," Sirinterlikci said. "It teaches them mechanical engineering."
The event marked the first time that RMU played host to a First Tech Challenge event.
"We do have students who become interested in engineering [after taking part in high school robotics events]," Sirinterlikci said. "We will have students who take an interest in it and maybe even recruit them to come to RMU."