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

BOWLING GREEN, Ohio – Partnering with regional high schools to inspire the next generation of engineers, Bowling Green State University on Nov. 4 held its 11th Falcon BEST – Boosting Engineering, Science and Technology – robotics competition, providing hands-on experience, mentorship and an exciting competition that tests students’ engineering ingenuity.

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

With more than 250 students from 10 regional high schools participating, this year’s top three teams included Eastwood High School in Pemberville, Ohio, and Maumee Valley Country Day School and St. Francis de Sales High School, both in Toledo, Ohio. All three teams are advancing to the Denver BEST Robotics regional championship in December.

“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).

Offering the competition is one of 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 engineeringelectronic 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 state-of-the-art 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.

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.”

The BGSU Falcon BEST robotics challenge is presented in part by First Solar, Rudolph Libbe Group Inc., Missile Defense Agency STEM - US Department of Defense, BGSU College of Technology, Architecture and Applied Engineering and BGSU Summer Academic Youth Programs.

Updated: 02/15/2024 10:02AM