What is BotsIQ?
BotsIQ is a manufacturing workforce development program whose goal is to provide a pathway for high school students to learn about rewarding career options in manufacturing. This is accomplished by inviting students to participate in an exciting, hands-on high school robotics competition.
Why is it unique?
- Students design, build and test a Bot in a fascinating real-world professional manufacturing model.
- Each participating high school is paired with a manufacturing company representative to serve as their industry mentor.
- While competing with other local schools, participants gain real-world skills and learn about the the potential for a career in manufacturing.
How does the program work?
Under the expert guidance of their high school teachers and industry mentors, students work in teams during the academic year to design and build 15 lb. Bots to battle in a gladiator-style competition.
BotsIQ holds preliminary competitions at local community colleges for teams to be able to test their Bots and battle for seedings. The Finals Competition will be held 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. See Competition information for the requirements and due dates.
The competitions are something that the students can get excited about, but the real-world goal of BotsIQ is to provide a setting where 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.
Why is it important?
There is currently a significant skills and interest gap in manufacturing. Companies in southwestern Pennsylvania cannot find qualified workers to fill their open positions. This problem is compounded by a rapidly aging workforce.
- 40% of the manufacturing workforce will be at retirement age by 2020.
- 130,000 positions in manufacturing will be open within the next 10 years.
- 90% of parents recognize that a strong manufacturing base is critical to the US economy, but only 30% of parents would support their children in pursuing a career in manufacturing.
- Only 12% of families in our region consider manufacturing to be a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math) career.
BotsIQ 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.