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VWCC to host 12th annual autonomous robot competition

Virginia Western Community College’s School of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) along with its Engineering and Engineering Technology programs will host the 12th annual autonomous robot competition Dec. 1 in the college’s Humanities Building gym. In addition to 10 teams of Virginia Western students, 22 teams total comprised of middle school, high school and college students from the area will be putting their robots to the test. The fun-filled event is free to attend and a crowd of robot and technology enthusiasts is expected.

This year’s competition theme is “Hurricane Rescue-Bots.”  As in years past, the competition is based on the annual American Society for Engineering Education national competition. Local teams began the design process in September for their autonomous robots and will continue creating and testing through November. Their robots will be programmed to navigate hurricane-obstacles on a track to rescue wooden pegs representing people.

“This year’s competition is pretty tough but the students are doing a great job so far. It’s really neat to see the concepts they brainstormed in early September start to take shape,” said George Studtmann, engineering professor. “In the robot project, there is a lot of design, build, test, fail and try again.  This is exactly what engineering is about.  It’s great to see the ‘Aha’ moments when things start to work.”

The challenge offers a hands-on learning activity as students must create a design, perform 3D modeling, budget and order parts, assemble their robots, complete multiple test trials and troubleshoot software bugs. The excitement of competition day is that anything and everything can happen.

Teams will present their designs in a science fair poster session from 8:45 a.m. to 10 a.m. Engineering and STEM judges from around the Roanoke Region and Virginia Western will grade each team. Then, at 10 a.m., the teams will demonstrate their robots in a series of five trials.  The winning team will be recognized around noon. Please join Virginia Western for an action-packed, energetic morning – and may the best robot win!

WHAT:     12th Annual Autonomous Robot Competition

WHEN:     8:30  a.m.-Noon, Saturday, Dec. 1

WHERE:   Virginia Western Humanities Building Gym

Gaming Club to host Extra Life fundraiser on Nov. 2-3

Virginia Western Community College’s Gaming Club seeks “Extra Lifers,” and invites students to participate in their second annual Extra Life game-a-thon event from 10 a.m.-10 p.m. on Nov. 2-3 on the third floor of Virginia Western’s Student Life Center.

Extra Life’s slogan is simple, “Play games. Heal kids.” One hundred percent of the proceeds raised stay local, supporting sick and injured children, through Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Southwest Virginia – Carilion Children’s Hospital. Last year the gaming club raised nearly $1,200. This year they hope to double what they raised last year. So far, before even turning a game on, the club has 23 team members and nearly $1,600 in online donations.

Students are welcome to participate by signing up at the Fab Lab or simply show up the day of the event and play. All participants are to raise a minimum of $10 to play for a day or $20 to play for both days. There will be additional prizes for those who raise the most money. Students can also participate in tournaments during the event where they can win prizes like VW FabLab 3D printed Mario Kart trophies, gift cards, figurines and more. Food for gamers will be on-hand and food donations are welcome. Classic board and card games will also be available for the less technical. Not a gamer and want to support one? Following is a link to the event’s donation page:

Extra Life, a non-profit, unites thousands of gamers around the world to play games in support of their local Children’s Miracle Network Hospital for the past 10 years. It started with a little girl in Orange, Texas, Victoria “Tori” Enmon and a radio host, “Doc” Jeromy Adams meeting in Houston. Inspired by their journey, and eventual friendship with Tori and her family, Doc felt called to do more for kids and in Tori’s honor. “It just occurred to me that gamers should be able to do the things they love, to be able to help sick and injured kids, as well.” Doc shares, “And so, Extra Life was born. 1,200 gamers showed up on October 15, 2008.” Each year Extra Life continues to grow, uniting over 100,000 gamer “heroes” and raising more than $40 million for sick and injured kids since its inception.