Robotics competition receives donation from local construction company

The Falcon BEST Robotics Competition at Bowling Green State University is every bit as intense and heated as an overtime tournament championship game. 

The competitors are high school and middle school students from throughout the area, while the coaching roles are filled by dedicated, enthusiastic teachers and team mentors, some of which come from the professional tech community. Each group is provided with an identical kit of parts and equipment, and then spends a month and a half designing, building and testing a remote-controlled robot that they expect to outperform those created by their competition.

In addition to the actual robotics competition, the teams of students also compete for the BEST award, which goes to the group that most embodies the concept of “Boosting Engineering, Science and Technology.” They are judged on the project engineering notebook they must keep throughout the competition, their marketing presentation, a team exhibit and interview, their spirit and sportsmanship, and the performance of their robot.

BGSU got involved in the competition about three years ago, but nationally the program has been around for about 20 years after getting its start from a group of engineers in the Dallas area. Today some 50 hubs across the country host the robotics events, but Bowling Green is the only one in Ohio.

Sponsorship from the corporate and business community is essential for the program to continue to prosper and expand. The Lathrop Company, a leader in providing construction services throughout the region, has committed to taking a lead role in funding the Falcon BEST Robotics Competition by pledging $5,000 in support for each of the next five years.

“This is a great program and a great fit for us with our affiliation with BGSU,” Lathrop President Steven M. Johnson said. “Being in the construction industry, we hire a lot of engineers, so the emphasis on math and science and those types of programs is something we support, and something that will certainly benefit us down the road.”

“We’re very excited. About half of the students we hire come from Bowling Green, so the more we can help the University attract great students, that will help us, too,” he said. “There are a lot of very bright students out there, and if we can keep them here locally, that’s a win-win for all of us. I’m certain we’ll see the fruits of this in the coming years.” 

Several of the teams from last year’s Falcon BEST Robotics Competition advanced to the regional level with St. Ursula Academy of Toledo taking two first place awards and one second place, while the Sylvania Southview High School team won a special award for its perseverance during the event. 

This year’s competition will take place Saturday, October 8 at The Stroh Center and is open to the public.