Several local manufacturers are once again partnering with area youth for an event aimed at lighting the fires of ingenuity in those young people and get them interested in STEM sciences and skilled trades.
The program, called Xtreme STEM, was founded by Steve Staub with Staub Manufacturing Solutions in Dayton and several other local companies.
On Saturday, April 6 2019 those companies, along with the middle school, high school, and college teams they've partnered with, will compete in the Xtreme Bots and Collegiate Clash at Wright State University's Nutter Center.
"Team members get paired with a manufacturing company and they help design and build the bot," says Staub. "The company just helps provide support and mentorship, but it gives kids an opportunity to see what STEM careers are available and see what's available in the manufacturing industry, and help get them interested in things that they might not be learning about in school."
For Staub, it's a lot of fun just to see the teams compete.
"We have two competitions a year tied with the school year," he says. "The first one is usually in the November-December timeframe and so the teams usually start building about the time school starts. Sometimes the bots will do really well, and somethimes they 'get destroyed.'"
Staub says the goal is for teams to learn from their mistakes.
"The concept is they can... come back in the April competition and have a better bot and compete again and see how well they do. We've had teams that have been naturally clobbered in the fall and come back in the spring and have done really well. But it gives them an opportunity and it's great teamwork there," he says. "They're working together, they're learning, they're learning engineering skills and STEM skills."
In all, there are 40 High School and Middle School teams and 12 College teams registered for the competitions.
Competing teams from Dayton, Troy, Centerville, and Kettering will be joined by several Cincinnati schools, and Staub says he would like to see the event grow even bigger.
"Folks are excited about it, and there's a lot of other hands-on things to do. People can show up just to watch it, but we also have a 3D printing competition where, if you're a middle schooler, we've got all kinds of exhibits for the kids to be part of. They can walk in and they can design and print their own wind turbine blade - 3D printed - and then we'll put it in a wind tunnel test and see how fast it goes. And then we'll see who has the fastest one at the end of the day."
Staub says, as with the bot challengers, the additional interactive displays are designed to get young people interested in STEM Careers and help them realize there are opportunities for them in the future to make a good living and have some fun doing it.