SWPA BotsIQ is a manufacturing workforce development program disguised as a high school robotics competition. The Smart Sport is designed to provide high school students with an exciting, hands-on team experience while they learn about the pathways to a rewarding career in STEM and manufacturing. Now, in its 13th year, the program has grown from 6 schools to over 60 high schools and over 5,000 students in southwestern Pennsylvania have participated.

Our program has been successful in our initial mission—raising awareness of manufacturing careers— but there’s still work to do. We understand the importance of attracting, preparing and empowering the next generation of manufacturing workers. The simple truth: manufacturing provides rewarding career opportunities and well-staffed companies become thriving companies. That is good for our region, our state and our country.

BotsIQ holds preliminary competitions at local community colleges in March for teams to be able to test their Bots and battle for seedings. The Finals Competition is held in April at the California University of Pennsylvania Convocation Center. Teams not only earn points for their arena battles, they are evaluated by industry experts on their engineering binder. The team’s documentation binder points weigh heavily in the crowning of the competition’s Grand Champion.

The competitions are something that the students can get excited about, but in actuality, they are developing technical skills in mechanical and electrical engineering, machining and welding along with 21st century skills in critical thinking, project management, communication and teamwork.”

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