June 20, 2014

High School Students Succeed at This Year’s Pioneers in Engineering Robotics Competition

High school students compete in the annual Pioneers in Engineering robotics competition.

The sixth annual Pioneers in Engineering (PiE) Robotics Competition was held on April 26 and 27 at the Lawrence Hall of Science, the competition host site for the last several years. PiE brings together students from UC Berkeley’s Pioneers in Engineering club and local East Bay and San Francisco high school students who share interests in science, technology, engineering, and math (or STEM). The teams have worked with their UC Berkeley mentors throughout the semester to design and build prize-winning robots for this final, weekend-long competition.

This year, 20 high school teams participated. Each team designed and built its own remote-controlled robot, to compete in a game designed by UC Berkeley students. This year’s game, titled “Tater Toss,” required robots to move whiffle balls onto the opposing side of the field and into goals. Team members said this year’s game was the best one yet because of its fast and exciting scoring and easy-to-understand rules. Teams had unique ways of playing the game, and their creativity showed through in the cool contraptions they invented. From conveyor belts to cannons, from scoopers to sweepers, the teams’ contraptions for efficiently shooting balls across the field showcased their ingenuity. Guests were welcome to attend the competition to see the robots in action, chat with the team members, and root for their favorite robotic creations.

“At the end of the day, the students really enjoyed participating in the competition. Even if they didn’t win, the students loved having the chance to get hands-on experience with robots and learn about opportunities in STEM first-hand,” says Samuel Fung, Director of Pioneers in Engineering. “As PiE staff, we are really happy to see that the students have enjoyed this year’s competition and look forward to seeing many of them next year!”

Head Royce and Oakland Tech, both Oakland-based high schools, took the crown as this year’s robotics competition champions. Additionally, several schools were awarded various Judges’ Awards for their commendable performance both before and during the competition. Berkeley High took home an award for Engineering Professionalism, while the team from New Energy Academy was awarded for its aptitude in Mechanical Design; the Alameda Community Learning Center won the Agilent Spirit Award. Read about the rest of the recipients of Judges’ Awards winners here.

The Lawrence Hall of Science is proud to sponsor the Pioneers in Engineering Competition, a commendable program that bridges the gap between high schools, colleges, and industry in one exciting program. Students from the UC Berkeley Pioneers in Engineering club designed and built the competition field, as well as fundraised more than $30,000 to make the event possible. The Pioneers in Engineering Robotics Competition is designed to increase local awareness of and excitement in science, technology, engineering, and math. Over 300 high school students and 100 college mentors participate in the program every spring.

In addition to the annual robotics competition, every October the Pioneers in Engineering Club puts on an event at the Lawrence Hall of Science to kick off the Bay Area Science Festival. This year, PiE built a robotic scorpion tail for visitors to try on and “sting” their prey with.

View team photos or learn more about PiE. We hope to see you in 2015 for the next robot smackdown!