Broncos Athletics

Students and Robots Compete for Honors

April 1, 2003

SANTA CLARA, Calif. - Student teams from middle and high schools all across Northern California will match robots against robots in a tournament on April 5 at Santa Clara University. The competition, called 'Botball,' is a hands-on program that teaches students to design, build, and program their own robots.

"It's cool, it's fun, it's creative," said Chris Kitts, professor of engineering at Santa Clara University. "It shows students the infinite possibilities of working with robots and encourages future scientists and engineers. When students build and test their own robots, they learn the practical applications of science, engineering, and math. They also have a lot of fun."

Thirty-one teams from 23 middle and high schools will compete in this year's tournament, to be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the floor of SCU's basketball arena, at the Leavey Center.

Students get six weeks to build their mobile robots. In the tournament the robots compete against each other on a 4 feet by 8 feet board. The students score points by getting the robots to perform a few simple tasks, such as placing colored balls in different positions. Robots are student built and programmed to maneuver on a game board without remote control. Robots must start, stop, and play the game by themselves.

This year marks the fifth annual Northern California Botball Robot Tournament. Each year, the program is supported by NASA Ames Research Center, in Mountain View. Terry Grant, deputy manager of the Robotics Education Project, said NASA is making educational programs integral to every major NASA activity.

"A major focus in the NASA mission is to inspire the next generation of explorers," said Grant. "Botball has proven its appeal to students and teachers across the country in a wide range of educational settings."

Botball is an educational program created by the KISS Institute for Practical Robotics, a non-profit organization based in Norman, Okla. The institute's mission is to create robotics programs that improve the public's understanding of science, math, and technology. For information on the institute and the tournament visit For information on the event, contact Chris Kitts at 408- 554-4382.

About Santa Clara University's School of Engineering
Founded in 1912, the SCU School of Engineering reflects this tradition in its implementation of selected, high-quality undergraduate and graduate programs. The school's location in the heart of Silicon Valley, engaged and accessible faculty, and state-of-the-art equipment combine to create a powerful learning environment for engineering students. Engineering disciplines in the School of Engineering include Applied Mathematics, Civil, Computer, Electrical, and Mechanical Engineering, and Engineering Management and Leadership. More information can be found at

About Santa Clara University
Santa Clara University, a comprehensive Jesuit, Catholic university located in California's Silicon Valley, offers its 8,060 students rigorous undergraduate curricula in arts and sciences, business, and engineering, plus master's and law degrees. Distinguished nationally by the third-highest graduation rate among all U.S. master's universities, California's oldest higher-education institution demonstrates faith-inspired values of ethics and social justice. For more information, see