Wilkes County middle and high school students participated in the robotics competitions hosted by Wilkes Community College instructors from the Applied Career Technologies division in fall 2019.
Wayne Shepherd, director of Career and Technical Education and Safety for Wilkes County Schools, and Stacie Taylor, chair of Applied Engineering Technologies for Wilkes Community College, organized the event as a way for students to demonstrate the skills learned in advanced manufacturing and in technology, engineering, and eesign classes.
“It is a privilege to host this event each year for the high schools and middle schools. We want a fun event that allows students to use problem-solving skills, teamwork, and critical thinking, which is frequently asked for by employers. The students learn about careers in engineering, robotics, mechatronics, advanced manufacturing, and the degrees WCC offers in these high demand fields,” explained Taylor.
The competitions took place in the gymnasium in Randolph Hall on the Wilkes Campus and included the following categories: Urban Search and Rescue and Drag Racing for middle school students; Pre-Programed Autonomous Course, Robotic Bowling, Drag Racing, and a Remote-Control Course for high school students.
In the Urban Search and Rescue competition, students compete with robots they built prior to the competition. The mobile robot is designed like those employed by emergency personnel (fire, police, military) to secure an area by locating, neutralizing, moving, and disposing of explosive materials.
The high school robotics competition was a pre-programmed autonomous course that students prepared prior to the event. Students had to navigate a course with specific start and end points and stay within pre-defined boundaries. The first-place team from each school continued to a timed programming challenge where they had 20 minutes to program as a team for robot bowling. The object of the robot bowling competition was to knock down as many pins as possible while avoiding obstacles on the course. The team that knocked down the most with the best time was the overall winner.
The remote-control course was a timed course and students had to navigate around obstacles. The drag racing competition was all about the fastest time with a winner from middle school and high school.