SkillsUSA demonstration event helps students sharpen their robotics skills

February 28, 2014 – The 2014 Robotics: Urban Search & Rescue (USAR) Challenge: Explosive Ordnance Disposal tasks students with creating a mobile robot like those employed by emergency service personnel such as firefighters, police, and the military. Students competing in this SkillsUSA challenge design their robots so they are able to secure an area by locating, neutralizing, moving, and disposing of explosive materials.

The demand for designers, skilled technicians, and manufacturing workers who are fluent in mechanical and electrical systems and highly skilled in troubleshooting and maintenance of robotic systems is projected to continue to grow. The current generation of students is expected to take artificial intelligence and robotics into the evolving world of emergency services, finding new ways to help trained personnel react more quickly and effectively.

According to Alan Kirby, a Robotics: USAR official with Pitsco Education, the event has been building momentum nationally and this year has competitors from 15 states. The top team at each state’s championship competition qualifies for the SkillsUSA National Championships June 23-27, 2014, in Kansas City, MO.

“As with most competitions, the USAR teams that are the best prepared and the most professional will come out on top,” Kirby said. “What we saw last year at state events and the national finals was that students who invested a lot of time in their documentation and design as well as robot construction and modifications were the top performers.”

Each competition team is composed of two students who work together to design and build a remote-controlled robot using a TETRIX® Building System or other approved parts. The robots have an on-board camera and sensors so that students can guide them remotely, a safe distance from the simulated danger zone. Students must also complete a written test and prepare an engineering notebook, complete with designs, for the technical presentation portion of the challenge.

The majority of Robotics: USAR state championships are being contested in March and April, and the final one will be wrapped up in early May.

• 2014 Robotics: Urban Search & Rescue:
• Video:
• Product: RoboRescue Challenge Kit –
• Click to Tweet: Robotics: Urban Search & Rescue teams battle for spots at SkillsUSA Nationals.
• SkillsUSA:
• Pitsco Education:
• Images: High-resolution images available upon request at

Pitsco Education is the leading provider of age-appropriate, student-centered K-12 STEM learning solutions. Our standards-based curriculum, products, equipment, and materials promote student success through positive and challenging learning experiences, and our hands-on solutions teach core concepts and career skills in science, technology, engineering, and math.

About the Author:

Laura Ascione

Laura Ascione is the Managing Editor, Content Services at eSchool Media. She is a graduate of the University of Maryland's prestigious Philip Merrill College of Journalism. When she isn't wrangling her two children, Laura enjoys running, photography, home improvement, and rooting for the Terps. Find Laura on Twitter: @eSN_Laura