High school robot nerds are inbound

Callie Burgan, Staff Writer

On Dec. 8, high school robotics teams are to compete at a robotics tournament in the Wellness Center. 

The tournament is free and open to the public, and guests are to experience a head-to-head competition in which 24 teams are to compete for a spot in a Pennsylvania championship.

Teams from Ohio, Maryland and Pennsylvania are to travel to Pitt-Johnstown to compete.

Only Hollsopple, Salisbury, Johnstown and State College have eligible teams in this region.

Roxanne Jenner, Pitt-Johnstown summer code programs director, says she is eager to organize the event with a cordinating high school robotics team, the Robotic Doges, to host the tournament for the first time at Pitt-Johnstown. 

Jenner says that volunteers are a crucial component of the competition, and 30 were still needed as of last week. 

“This event is supported entirely by volunteers. The support from volunteers in our local community and from our university students and faculty has been incredible. 

“We hope to raise an awareness of the impact of (the tornament) and robotics programs in general for both schools and students and to inspire more teams in our local region to participate in the future.”

Jenner said volunteers working with minors are required to be 21 years old and have a background check, which she can help with. These volunteers would be needed for the entire event, which is to be 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m, she said. 

Other volunteers are needed to help with check-in and miscellaneous support. They would not need to be over 21 or have background checks, and could volunteer for a specific time slot instead of the whole day.

 “If you’re interested and available, please contact me for more information so that I can help to identify a volunteer role that best suits you.”

Computer Engineering professor Laura Weiserman is to volunteer as a judge this year. She says that the competition is brilliant because it enhances students’ love for science, technology, engineering and math fields.

“I am looking forward to be having the robotics competition hosted at Pitt-Johnstown and to be working with the (tourament) teams. It will be a memorable day.”

Sophomore Noah McCloskey, Amateur Robotics and Electronics Coalition president, is working to recruit volunteers. The coalition is a campus organization. He says he thinks it is incredible that so many students are interested and getting involved with robotics.

“I’m looking forward to seeing all the different designs that they come up with for the competition, seeing how the students make it all work and how it’s similar to the competitions we’ll be doing in (the coalition). I think it’s going to be exciting getting to volunteer and be involved with the process.”

Junior Maura Malone has been a mentor for robotics competitions for the past four years.

“It has been an extremely positive and engaging experience. (The tournament program) emphasizes engineering, programming and math in fun and creative challenges that result in many different solutions to a single problem. 

“There are teams all around the world which allowed my team and myself to make connections beyond robotics and be exposed to different cultures.”

“I have never been involved with (the tournament), so I am very excited to see all of the different ideas the competitors developed and to encourage the next generation of (robotics students).”

Jenner says that in addition to the robotics competition, there will be a Lego contest for middle-schoolers Grades 4-8 held Jan. 19i n Altoona.

“This event is also looking for volunteers. Whether your skills are technical or not, we could use your help. Program support, pre-planning, assisting with the competition or helping with a team – all are needed. We would love for you to join us.”

For more information regarding these events, those interested in volunteering can contact Roxanne Jenner at (814)-233-7894 or [email protected]