In anticipation of Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar’s 2nd international botball challenge, student teams from six high schools completed an intensive two-day workshop at the university. The workshop provides the teams with the necessary background expertise to build and program their very own robots. All teams must have their autonomous robots completed by May 27 to compete at the 2006 Botball challenge at Doha City Center Mall. The challenge will be judged by representative of NASA and a member of the Carnegie Mellon Robotics Institute staff.
Botball is a discipline designed to engage students in robotics through the application of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The Botball workshop provides students with the necessary tools to build a robot such as: sensors, motors, customized robot computers, LEGO pieces, software and documentation. It also encourages technology awareness, system engineering, mechanical principles, C programming, internet research, scientific methods, design and creativity.
“We’re delighted to have so many teams competing at the Botball challenge, including some new teams this year. Botball is a wonderful way to learn not just about robots, but about computers, and mathematics, and engineering; and the students learn the value of hard work and of working together in teams,” says Charles E. Thorpe, Dean of Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar.
The success of last year’s first international botball challenge saw Qatar Academy emerge as the winner, scoring the highest overall points. The growing interest in Botball has been reflected in the increased number of schools participating this year, they include; Al Khor International School, American School in Doha, Amnah Bint Wahhab Independent S.S.G., Doha College, International School of Choueifat and Omar Bin Al Khattab Scientific School.
“This is the second time we are competing at the Botball challenge, this reflects our strong belief in robotic technology. Botball has provided our students with the opportunity to carefully consider the implications science, technology, engineering and mathematics have on the effectiveness of their robots,” says Imad Abo Yousef, physics teacher at Omar Bin Al Khattab Scientific School.
By designing, building and programming robots, students learn to carefully consider strategy and apply a variety of solutions to create a robot that is capable of responding to commands sent through tailor-made computer programs, written by the student themselves.
“I have learned so much over the course of the workshop and look forward to the next few weeks to finalize our robot and compete against other teams,” said a young team member from Omar Bin Al Khattab Scientific School.
Qatar is the first country outside the U.S. to host a Botball challenge. Carnegie Mellon Qatar’s Dean Dr.Thorpe and his son Leland established the Botball robotics club in Qatar in 2004 and helped form Botball clubs in a number of secondary schools. The Qatar program was inspired by a U.S. botball program developed in 1993 by the KISS Institute for Practical Robotics (KIPR).#####
About Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar:Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar is the first international branch campus operated by Carnegie Mellon University, a private American research university that’s regularly ranked among the best in the world. In August 2004 Carnegie Mellon Qatar began offering its highly regarded undergraduate programs in business and computer science at the invitation of the Qatar Foundation. Carnegie Mellon plans to open a new facility on the Education City campus in 2007.
More information can be found at www.qatar.cmu.edu 
About The Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon UniversityThe Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University was established in 1979 to conduct basic and applied research in robotics technologies relevant to industrial and societal tasks. Seeking to combine the practical and the theoretical, the Robotics Institute has diversified its efforts and approaches to robotics science while retaining its original goal of realizing the potential of the robotics field. For more details, log on to www.ri.cmu.edu .