As the RoboBOTS student robotics competition celebrates its 15th edition this year, it has a different coordinator for the first time.
Nate Bahurinsky will coordinate the competition, taking over from Brian Deane, who has retired.
RoboBOTS is a high school competition where students create 15-pound robots that compete against each other. It was started by the Northwest Pennsylvania Chapter of the National Tooling and Machining Association (NTMA), an industry trade association, to get kids interested in manufacturing and engineering careers.
This year’s competition will take place on April 2 at Meadville Area Senior High, with 25 teams from 12 schools in Crawford, Erie, Mercer and Venango counties taking part.
Deane, the president of the former NuTec Tooling Systems of Meadville, had been the volunteer coordinator since the event began in the 2006-07 school year.
Bahurinsky is no stranger to the tooling and machining industry or to competitions.
The Vice President of Operations at Peters’ Heat Treating Inc. of Meadville, he has been involved with the NTMA Chapter on various committees over his past 16 years with Peters.
He is also a former head coach of the Meadville Area Senior High School football team.
Bahurinsky was approached by NTMA Local Chapter Executive Director Tami Adams to take over coordination of the tournament after Deane expressed interest in retiring.
With his kids now in college and retiring from coaching due to work commitments, Bahurinsky said he decided to go for it.
“It’s all I can do to keep these robotics kids in town in the tool and die business,” he said. “It helps them with something they love and hopefully sticks around and helps our manufacturing community” in the future.
Bahurinsky isn’t shy about giving others credit for getting him off to a smooth start.
“Tami has been wonderful this year, considering I have no experience with it,” he said of Adams. “Tami sort of took the lead. It’s pretty much a learning year for myself. Hopefully I can get more off his plate next year.
Deane literally left a plan of what to do, according to Bahurinsky.
“Brian left a spreadsheet, which we still use,” he said with a laugh. “I don’t know if anyone could replace him. He was really good at it and very passionate. He’s the one who started it. All we can hope for is to continue what he has built.
But the backbone of a successful competition are the dozens of volunteers involved, Bahurinsky said. They do everything from setting up the arena to inspecting the robots to tearing them down after the competition is over and everything in between.
“I meet a lot of good people who aren’t all technically in NTMA,” he said. “They come from all the different tool shops and other companies. They just want to help the kids and the community.