Rocky Mountain Battlebot Competition a League of its Own!

Monday, March 20, 2017 - 12:45pm
Tami L. Johnson

If you’ve never been to a Battlebot competition, you may want to make plans for next year because it may be considered some of the best family entertainment you’ve had in a while—at least it was for me! 

You might be sitting back wondering what is the Rocky Mountain Battlebot Competition?  It’s rather a mouthful to say, but it’s a manufacturing workforce development program of the Northern Utah National Tooling and Machining Association Chapter (NUNTMA). 

Bret Holmes, program manager for the Rocky Mountain Battlebots League, says, “Students design and build remote controlled robots (Bots) to face-off in a gladiator-style competition.  Through the manufacturing process of Bot building, student’s imaginations are captured as they design, build, and compete with their own robotic creations.”

This year’s event had teams ranging from Weber County down to St. George.  These schools included: Ogden High, Ogden Weber Tech College, Weber High, Fremont High, Roy High, Bonneville High, St. Joseph, Davis Applied Tech College and Dixie Applied Tech College.

The recent Battlebot competition, held at the Ogden Applied Tech College, and free to the public, drew quite a crowd of enthusiastic students, friends and families and, of course, judges.

According to Holmes, “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.”

Holmes also adds that, “Along with the technical skills students can learn 21st century skills in critical thinking, project management, communication and teamwork.”

While attending the Battlebots competition with my two young boys and husband, our eyes were glued to the battle arena.  Each competing “Bot” was given 3 minutes to out match his opponent.  Names such as “Viking”, “Samurai”,
and “Fox Trot,” among others, battled it out. 

Each had a different design or element of surprise to scare off his offender.  For instance, the Samurai had a red hammer that spun faster with each rotation in order to strike his attacker. Another Bot had 6 spikes that protruded on each side creating a barrier of protection. And still another had the look of a ramp so the other Bots couldn’t easily crush it.

Students stood and held their remote controls while standing on either side of the enclosure as their Bots battled it. As they  did this, they were encouraged by their instructors to, “Move to the left” or “Hit ‘em!” upon command.

            There were two different kinds of matches: One where the Bots were allowed weapons designed to immobilize their opponent and the other match was called a “Push Bots Match.”  This is best described as a sumo match where one Bot attempted to pin the other against the walls of the cage; and if successful, was declared a winner!

The judges were critiquing on two specific things: control and aggressive damage.

Two students, Lake and Charles, from Dixie Applied Tech College, told me they began building their Bot back in January. They called their Bot, “Viking.” Traveling all the way to Ogden from the St. George area just for this competition was a great thrill for both friends. Having learned about robotics in their engineering and manufacturing classes, Lake and Charles were excited to be at the Rocky Mountain Battlebots Competition this year.

Holmes said, “The hope is the Rocky Mountain Battlebot League will attract smart, capable students who love to build things, and solve problems.  Exactly the type of people who we hope will make up the next generation of manufacturing leaders.”