Wright State University College of Engineering and Computer Science/ Ohio Robotics Xtreme BOTS Competition

As an academic advisor in the College of Engineering and Computer Science at Wright State University, Ann Wright mentors and advises students through a variety of programs. “If students are looking for a major that is going to have a lot of job opportunities, good paying jobs, engineering and computer science and STEM-related fields are something they should look at,” she said. “If they’re willing to work hard, they can get through those tougher programs because the payoff is really good at the end.”

Wright State University coordinates the college’s Student Ambassadors program, which includes about 20 select students who volunteer to help with outreach activities and student and alumni recruitment and retention efforts. Many Student Ambassadors and other students in the College of Engineering and Computer Science volunteer for the Ohio Robotics Xtreme BOTS competition, organized by Ohio Robotics Inc., and held on the Wright State campus.

Two hundred students forming 42 teams from 17 schools participated in the fall competition on Nov. 22. In Xtreme BOTS, students design and build remote-controlled robots that battle in head-to-head competitions. Wright State University student volunteers mentored the teams in the tournament, assisting with engineering questions and problems and providing support to competition staff and volunteers. Volunteering at events like the robotics competition allows Wright State University students to give back, Wright said. Many of the student ambassadors say they want to help other aspiring students because they received encouragement to pursue careers in engineering or other STEM fields. “They want to give that back to somebody because they had that experience or they just want more students in engineering and computer science,” she said. “It’s a growing field, it’s an important field for the progress of our country.”

A Carnegie-classified research university, Wright State University’s main campus is 12 miles northeast of downtown Dayton, Ohio, near the historic landmarks where the Wright brothers taught the world to fly. The university operates a branch campus, Wright State University–Lake Campus, on the shores of Grand Lake St. Marys in Celina, Ohio and serves nearly 18,000 students and offers more than 190 undergraduate, graduate, doctoral, and professional degree programs through eight colleges and three schools, including Professional Psychology and the Boonshoft School of Medicine. For more information, please visit: http://www.wright.edu.

Wright State is engaged in a $150 million fundraising campaign that promises to further elevate the school’s prominence by expanding scholarships, attracting more top-flight faculty and supporting construction of state-of-the-art facilities. Led by Academy Award-winning actor Tom Hanks and Amanda Wright Lane, great grandniece of university namesakes Wilbur and Orville Wright, the campaign has raised more than $107 million so far.

Xtreme BOTS is organized by Ohio Robotics Inc., a Dayton-based nonprofit organization whose mission is to help increase the number of manufacturing workers in the Miami Valley. The organization hopes to develop this pipeline by encouraging young people from middle school through college to study science, technology, engineering and math. Here are a few testimonials from those who have been engaged:

Rebecca:

Ever since I was a little, I always thought engineering was so “cool;” it represented all the things I loved – Legos, math, taking apart broken appliances and so much more. I dreamed that someday I would become an engineer. That dream started to become more real when I got to high school. My local high school offered an Engineering Tech Prep class which taught junior and seniors more about being an engineer and the connections to work environments. In joining Tech Prep, I got opportunities to learn more hands-on skills and applications related to engineering and not just the math and science aspects.

With Tech Prep, I got selected to be on the robotics team. On that team, I got to learn team building, design and working with an outside company. It was one of the best experiences that I could have gotten while still in high school. It taught me so much and reinforced my desire to become an engineer.   We also made it to Nationals my senior year which gave me a wider view of engineering beyond Ohio.

After high school, I went on to Wright State University to study Mechanical Engineering. I graduated in April 2013 with a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering with a focus in design. I was one of only 4 women graduating with a Mechanical Engineering degree that year. Once I graduated, I went to work for Emerson Climate Technologies where I am a Design Engineer.

When I was asked to volunteer to help out at the Xtreme Bots Competition, I jumped right on it. I want to help high school students realize that their dreams to become an engineer can come true, because I’m a living example of it. They should never give up on their dreams! I also want to help promote women in engineering. The number of women in this field has grown over the years, but it still lags and we need to keep showing young women that it’s possible.

Katie:

When I first got involved with the XTREME bots competition, I knew nothing about robotics, engineering, or manufacturing. All that I knew was that I wanted to build a wickedly awesome fighting robot that will destroy all others. To make this dream come true, our team ask for help from mentors that would become crucial in the building of our robot. These mentors include my striking physics teacher, Mr. Bixel, wood shop teacher, Mr. Schoenleb, and a fellow student, Nick. Step by step, they taught us how to solder, cut metal, and tap holes. They helped us create an effective design, and solve problems. Most importantly, they gave us the encouragement and faith that we would be able to accomplish this daunting task. In a few short months, I went from knowing nothing to building a fully functioning fighting robot, and we could not have done it without the help of our mentors. Ohio Robotics gave me the opportunity to explore the endless possibilities of the world of manufacturing. Being part of this competition made me consider a future occupation in STEM and engineering.

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