Funded by the SME Education Foundation, the annual National Robotics Challenge (NRC) helps students develop their skills in creativity, engineering, problem-solving and leadership.
DEARBORN, Mich., MARION, Ohio, March 12, 2012 How do you challenge the brain power of young people (besides paper testing)? Answer: Provide a venue for more than1,000 kids from 72 schools for a robotic competition. Ever stress out about programming a robot with whiskers in a timed competition? Or add a computer to a robot to calculate its angles and distances?
Robotic teams of young people aspiring engineers representing elementary, middle school, high, and post-secondary schools will converge with 350 robots to compete in 12 categories at the National Robotics Challenge (NRC)  being held on April 12-14 at the Marion County Fairgrounds Veteran Memorial Coliseum in Marion, Ohio. Corporate sponsorship for the 2012 National Robotics Challenge has been provided by Honda of America Manufacturing, Inc.,  the SME Education Foundation , and Rotork - Hiller .
The SME Education Foundation is committed to creating a manufacturing education pathway for young people to help them compete in the 21st global economy. The Foundation provides funding to organizations with programming (such as the NRC) offering science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines to help students make informed career decisions.
Efforts are based on increasing awareness among young people beginning in elementary school through middle and high school and then as they pursue college-level and/or technical training. Special emphasis is placed on women and minorities, two groups the manufacturing industry has recognized as largely untapped pools of talent.
We are taking a community-based approach to transforming manufacturing education, says Bart A. Aslin, CEO, SME Education Foundation. Increased student achievement at events such as the NRC incentivizes the creation of strong partnerships between organizations, businesses, and exemplary schools at the local level.
The National Robotics Challenge is open to students in the elementary division (students can compete in 3rd grade) through graduate school, and is designed to provide students of all ages and levels of study with the opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of manufacturing processes, controls, robotics and other technologies through competitive engineering contests. Students are judged on their application of technology principles, engineering concepts and their ability to solve real-world problems through a team-based approach.
The event is unique and very different than other robotics competitions. As schools continue to be financially challenged, educators and students are enthused about participating in this event because the cost to participate is low and requires no specific kit to buy. Schools have more dollars to spend on materials and equipment to build their robots. This year, students needing help on how to program their robots were directed to the Carnegie Mellon Robotics Academy website the Computer Science Student Network  where they found lots of free resources to teach them.
The vision of the NRC is to become the premier robotics competition for elementary, middle, high and post-secondary school students in the United States. Tad Douce, NRC Director of Events, says, We know that students have better understanding when they express themselves through invention and creation; and we cannot say enough about how much this competition lends to students learning from their peers and broadening their perspective for pursuing careers in advanced manufacturing.
This year, the NRC partnered with the Air Force Research Laboratory to develop a new contest called Rescue Robot. One team from the Rescue Robot event will be selected to work with the Air Force Research Laboratory and a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) emergency response team to further develop their design into an autonomous/semi-autonomous rescue robot prototype. The selected team will receive additional funding to purchase the materials needed to develop the prototype.
These events are offered to students attending public or private schools offering instruction as less than the baccalaureate level or a public or private school offering instruction at or beyond the baccalaureate level (included are community college, technical institute, and university undergraduate and graduate students).
Corporate Sponsors: Honda , Rotork - Hiller , and SME Education Foundation ; Contributing Partners: Ohio Technology and Engineering Educators Association  and Todco , Friends of the NRC: Harbolt Electrical and Alarms, Inc ., and the Ohio Technology Student Association , RobotWorx , and TRECA,  Preferred Vendors: Depco, LLC , Gears Educational Systems , IMAGINiT , LEGO Education  and Make-Parts .
About the National Robotics Challenge (NRC):
The National Robotics Challenge, developed in 1986, is an annual event designed to provide students from elementary, middle, high and post-secondary schools with an opportunity to compete and test their classroom instruction and understanding of manufacturing processes, controls and robotics and automation. Today, the NRC attracts more than 1,000 students from over 70 schools who compete in twelve exciting contest categories. Visit www.roboticschallenge.org 
About the SME Education Foundation: The SME Education Foundation is committed to inspiring, preparing and supporting the next generation of manufacturing engineers and technologists for the advancement of manufacturing education. Created by the Society of Manufacturing Engineers in 1979, the SME Education Foundation has provided more than $31 million since 1980 in grants, scholarships and awards through its partnerships with corporations, organizations, foundations, and individual donors. Visit the SME Education Foundation at www.smeef.org . Also visit www.CareerMe.org  for information on advanced manufacturing careers and www.ManufacturingisCool.com , our award-winning website for young people.