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Battling bots take over LSC

Integrated Manufacturing student Chris Wilczek (foreground) puts the final touches on his robot, while fellow students Stephanie Hennessey and James Loll get a little guidance from instructor Carl Anderson. (Submitted photo)1 / 3
The bots battle in a ten-by-ten-foot area covered with plastic to keep observers safe from possible flying bits of bots. (Photo by Teri Cadeau)2 / 3
It’s typical for bots to use sharp edges and heavy weapons to demolish their competition. (Submitted photo)3 / 3

The Commons area of Lake Superior College was filled with the sound of revving engines, crunching metal, and smelled slightly of smoke Tuesday morning. The bots had arrived and were ready to battle.

LSC’s Integrated Manufacturing students spent the better part of the spring semester molding, welding and machining toward creating a remotely-controlled robotic machines.

The end result? An efficiently designed and engineered robot that could potentially become a pile of rubble in mere minutes.

“We lost our first match. We think one of our motors got knocked out of place or the wire got disconnected,” said LSC freshman Cameron Gray as he worked to get his bot, called “The Squirrel,” back into running condition for its second battle.

Gray worked with two other students to create the bot. The bots are designed by students in the computer integrated design (CAD) program, then worked on by students in the welding and machining courses.

“The purpose is to have the students work together much like they will out in the field,” said Engineering CAD Technology Instructor Rich Kresky. “We know what it’s like working in the industry and we try to emulate it with this project.”

Yet the the bots primarily exist to destroy their opponents in this one-on-one tournament.

Three area high schools, Proctor, Cromwell-Wright, and Mesabi East also brought bots to the battlefield. Each school has their own robotics class and most of the students spend the entire school year working together on the bots.

A crowd of about 100 students gathered to watch the bots attack each other in a plastic guarded arena.

Each bot has its own attack strategy. Some bots sharp pointy corners used to ram other bots. Others have rotating wheels in the front to take chunks out of their opponents, sometimes causing sparks to fly.

The students also get creative with the naming of their bots. This year’s tournament included bots named “Bermuda Beatdown,” “Voodew,” “Minor Threat,” “Scorpion,” “Eulogy,” “Battleproof,” “Lampshade,” and team “Alpha Super Awesome Cool Dynamite Wolf Squadron.”

“Yeah, it’s a pretty long name,” said group member and LSC student Nick Hooper.

One of the battles became personal when Nick’s brother Wyatt Hooper from Cromwell-Wright drove “Battle­proof” from against Alpha Super’s bot. The bots were similar in design and weight, but it was Wyatt’s team which emerged victorious based on a vote from the crowd.

“It’s all about the driving,” Nick Hooper said.

Twelve teams competed, but only one bot could be the winner. This year the prize went to “Voodew” from Mesabi East High School.

Teri Cadeau

Teri Cadeau is a reporter for the Budgeteer.

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