On April 6-7-8, nearly 400 robots will be coming to Marion. They will be accompanied by about 1,000 students from 70 schools, 3rd grade through college. It’s the 2017 National Robotics Challenge!
Operating in Marion since 2004, the National Robotics Challenge (NRC) had its start in 1986 as the Robotic Technology and Engineering Challenge. This event, now managed locally by EduEverything, Inc., is the longest continually operating robotics event in the United States. The NRC is also widely known as the premier educational event for open-platform robotics competition.
Student teams come in a variety of sizes and each team can compete in any of the event’s 13 different contests. Contests range from small maze robots to a manufacturing robotic work cell, which is basically a miniature factory that fits in an 8’x8’ area, and even a Combat Robot contest. There will be nine teams from the Marion area, all sporting the MarionMade! logo on their bots. The local teams include one from Marion Harding High School, two from Ridgedale, two from River Valley, Tri-Rivers Career Center, two homeschool teams known as the Winter-Crowder Robotics Club, and Boy Scout Troop 86.
One thing that makes the National Robotics Challenge unique in educational robotics is the fact that all of the events are open-platform. This means the students can attack the contest they’ve selected using anything their mind can imagine. This gives the participants of the NRC the experience of real engineering, not just putting together parts from a purchased kit or following someone else’s instructions. Students at the NRC have to design then find, purchase or build the parts they need to make their ideas come to life. This mimics the real world application of learning that happens for any engineer or technician in the field.
The National Robotics Challenge is supported by a number of area companies, including Honda, MTD, IST Ohio, FirstEnergy, Universal Robots, SparkFun Electronics and LEGO Education. The event is open to the public and if you can only come one day, Friday is the day to be there. For more information and to see a schedule for the 2017 event visit: www.thenrc.org