15-pound robots

“It was tough to do,” said Monkern, a junior at the school. “They were very fast, but we had a little more torque and were able to push them.”Robobots, coordinated by the northwestern Pennsylvania chapter of the National Tooling and machining center, is a hands-on robot building initiative. Designed to spark high school student interest in technical careers, 28 teams from 14 schools in the region built 15-pound robots to do battle in an arena.

Monkern and his VTC-PM teammates from the Venango Technology Center in Oil City came out the winners in the daylong tournament held at Meadville Area Senior High School.Students are exposed to the practical applications of math, science, engineering and manufacturing skills while building the robots.“It’s the best experience I’ve ever had,” said Brittany Clouner, a senior on VTC-PM. “It was a lot of fun.”Asked what she liked best about it, both Clouner and fellow female teammate Heaven Hebets said changing people’s perceptions about women in technical fields like engineering.

“It was a lot of fun for the kids,” said Tim Lyons, an instructor at VTC and the team’s primary adviser. “It was a wonderful day.”Saturday’s competition attracted more than 1,300 spectators to MASH, impressing many of those in the crowd.“We thought we’d come down and see what’s going on,” said Amy Fuller, who was with her daughter, Samantha, 9. “I’m amazed at all the robots and the amount of work the kids put into it.”“People thinking that girls can’t do it,” they said in unison.Hebets, also a senior, said she plans to study electrical engineering this fall at the Pittsburgh Technical Institute.

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