News Release

Published on Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Western Technical College’s Electronics program will host a robotics challenge between 15 area high schools on Friday, April 30. The fourth annual event will take place from 9:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. in the Lunda Center, 319 7th St. N., La Crosse.

The competition is the conclusion to a special electronics program that Western Technical College offered at Arcadia, Black River Falls, Central, GET, Holmen, La Farge, Logan, Mauston, Melrose-Mindoro, New Lisbon, Onalaska, Sparta, Tomah, West Salem, and Westby High Schools.

The program was funded this year through a grant from the Wisconsin Technical College System’s Advanced Manufacturing Network – Northwest Region. The grant allowed Western to expand the program to three additional high schools by covering the cost of equipment and allowing for Burman to visit the high schools and train the teachers who administer the basic robotics curriculum.

“There is a growing need for electronic technicians,” said Jonathan Burman, Western Electronics instructor. “This is a great opportunity for us to show high school students what electronics is all about. The robots really grab their attention and make this a fun experience.”

The robots, called BOE-BOTS, are approximately the size of a five-inch cube. Each is equipped with a circuit board, wheels, and a drive mechanism controlled a micro-controller and sensors. Students use computer software to program the robot’s movement based on information from the sensors.

Nearly 190 high school students took part in the electronics course, and students from each school will participate in the final competition, which will include four contests: the Dead Reckoning course, where students program the robot to drive in a square and stop in an exact location; a maze race; a blind navigation course and an open contest for the most original program design.

For details on the program, contact Burman at 608.789.4773. For information on other Western Technical College programs and services, call 608.785.9200 or visit the Web site at westerntc.edu.