Two people operate a robot during a competition at BGSU.
More than 250 high school students participated in the annual Falcon BEST Robotics competition at BGSU, the culmination of an eight-week robot design challenge.

BGSU inspires future generations of robotics engineers through the annual Falcon BEST Robotics competition

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More than 250 students from 10 high schools participated in the event, which is the only one of its kind in Ohio, Michigan and Indiana

Bowling Green State University has partnered with high schools throughout Ohio and Indiana for more than a decade to inspire the next generation of robotics engineers through hands-on experience, mentorship and an exciting competition that tests students’ engineering ingenuity.

The University recently hosted its 11th annual Falcon BEST - Boosting Engineering, Science and Technology - robotics competition, with more than 250 students and supporters from 10 high schools participating.

This year, the top three teams in the robotics competition, including Eastwood High School in Pemberville and Maumee Valley Country Day School and St. Francis de Sales High School, both in Toledo, are advancing to the Denver BEST Robotics regional championship in December.

The event, the only one of its kind in Ohio, Indiana and Michigan, challenges high school student-led teams to design a remote-controlled robot for competition. This year’s focus was on robotics in healthcare.

“Our ultimate goal is to inspire future generations of high school students to be engaged with robotics and understand the vast opportunities available in this high-demand field,” said Dr. MD Sarder, Falcon BEST Hub director and professor, who leads the University's new School of Engineering in the College of Technology, Architecture and Applied Engineering (CTAAE).

Falcon BEST Robotics is among the many ways the University is responding to workforce needs. By fostering students’ interest in engineering early on, Sarder said BGSU is helping create a pipeline of students eager to pursue degrees in emerging technological fields.

BGSU is further supporting industry needs through three new fully accredited academic programs, including robotics engineering, electronic and computer engineering, and mechanical and manufacturing that cater to the expanding field of advanced manufacturing and technological innovation, offering a unique blend of science and engineering application that employers say is needed in the current and future industry landscape.

“We need skilled professionals in all areas of engineering, but especially in advanced manufacturing,” Sarder said. “Falcon BEST Robotics is one of the mechanisms we use to connect with high school students and help bring awareness to the many exciting careers available and the paths they can take to get there.”

For the robotics competition, schools are provided identical kits of equipment and parts, a set of game rules, and given eight weeks to design, build and test their robot.

BGSU faculty, local industry engineers and technical professional mentors advise and guide students through the design and construction of the robot. Students in the University’s engineering programs also assist high school teams virtually if they have questions.

Leading up to the competition, teams participated in a kick-off and practice day held at the Innovation Lab in Kokosing Hall, where BGSU faculty and students were on hand to help teams troubleshoot. The all-day competition was held at the Stroh Center.

A large group of high school students pose on a stage with Dr. MD Sarder of BGSU.
Eastwood High School in Pemberville took home first place in the robotics competition, earning a spot at the Denver BEST regional championship in December.

In addition to improving their technical skills in engineering, Falcon BEST Robotics helps students enhance their collaboration and problem-solving skills.

“It’s not all about winning the competition,” Sarder said. “It’s about the skills they gain throughout the eight weeks of the program leading up to the competition and the impact the experience has on their future.”

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Media Contact | Michael Bratton | | 419-372-6349

Updated: 03/14/2024 02:02PM