Future engineers from middle and high schools in St. Charles and Lincoln counties put their STEM subjects – science, technology, engineering and math – into practice on Friday, March 1, at the 15th annual Robotics Challenge hosted by General Motors Wentzville Assembly Center and the St. Charles Community College Workforce Development Department.
Student teams designed, built, programmed and presented robots made with LEGO® MINDSTORMS® robotics kits, modeling them after a real life automatic storage and retrieval system General Motors uses to manufacture automobiles. Brian Steber, senior manufacturing engineer at the General Motors Wentzville Assembly Center, wrote the challenge for students to follow, using Lego’s and cookies.
“It’s a great opportunity for students to learn skills used in manufacturing careers, and have some fun at the same time,” said Steber.
Students were judged on their teamwork and presentation, in addition to design and engineering. The judges were current and retired engineering professionals, from a variety of backgrounds. Following the competition, judges offered expertise and words of encouragement to the students.
“You are all awesome,” said David Bluhm from Boeing. “The skills that you are learning in this process, believe me, they are real,” Bluhm said.
Students were welcomed to SCC by John Bookstaver, SCC dean of business, science, education, math and computer science. Tammie Do Los Santos, SCC manager of workforce development initiatives, coordinated the competition and also talked to students about choosing a college and career, and the opportunities available at SCC.
When they weren’t competing, students attended breakout sessions throughout the day, where they were introduced to technology like Rockwell Automation and Alice programming.
GM employees Mike Dunston, a millwright and predictive technician, Stan Lubiewski, a pipefitter and predictive technician, and Tom Johnson, electrician, led a session called GM Vibration Tech. They introduced students to an infrared camera and ultrasound equipment, showing them how the technology is used in a real-life setting.
There were 18 teams, organized into two middle school divisions (gray and maroon) and one high school division (black). Students chose their own team names.
First place went to “Doofensmer TZ” from Barnwell Middle School in the gray division, “Cookie Commanders” from Barnwell Middle School in the maroon division and “KISS Industries” from Fort Zumwalt South High School in the black division. General Motors Wentzville Assembly Center donated LEGO® MINDSTORMS® kits to the three first-place teams.
Second place teams were “NMS Cougars” from Fort Zumwalt North Middle School in the gray division, the “Smart Cookies” from Barnwell Middle School in the maroon division and “Bananaz” from Fort Zumwalt South High School in the black division. Third place teams were the “Robo-Rebels” from Assumption in the gray division, “Platy Droid Anonymous” from Barnwell Middle School in the maroon division and Winfield High School in the black division.
For more information on the Robotics Challenge or other school-business programs, contact De Los Santos at email@example.com.
St. Charles Community College is a public, comprehensive two-year community college with associate degrees and certificate programs in the arts, business, sciences and career-technical fields. SCC provides workforce training and community-based personal and professional development as well as cultural, recreational and entertainment opportunities. For more information, visit www.stchas.edu.