By Elisabeth Costanzo Stewart

Mechanical minds were buzzing in SUNY Broome’s Applied Technology Building on Tuesday, March 28, 2023 as over 100 middle and high school students from the Southern Tier gathered to compete in the 12th Annual Robotics Competition. The 12th Annual Robotics Competition is the result of a collaborative effort between the Eastern Southern Tier STEM HUB, SUNY Broome, Broome-Tioga BOCES, and regional school districts. The mission of the competition is to excite young minds about Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math through the hands-on experience of designing and building functional robots. 

Teams and individual competitors hailed from over 10 districts within the region and also included students from Broome-Tioga BOCES’ New Visions and P-TECH programs. The Atrium was packed with students representing their respective schools’ robotics teams and technology classes. The competition consisted of six main events in which students either competed for points or for the fastest completion times. Specialized challenges included:

  • Large “Swept Away” Challenge
  • Small “Swept Away” Challenge
  • Autonomous Task Challenge
  • “King of the Ring” Bot Challenge 
  • Forklift Challenge
  • Maze Programing Challenge 

Judges for the competition were volunteers from the Southern Tier’s top technical industries including Raymond Corporation, Lockheed Martin, and BAE. 

Professor Robert Lofthouse, Associate Professor and Chairperson of Engineering Science & Physics, coordinated the event and beamed as he buzzed around the room visiting each of the six main robotics challenges. “The Robotics Competition is always a very exciting event for us in the STEM division. This room is filled with the engineers and computer scientists and programmers of the future! Robotics competitions are a great, tangible way to showcase that STEM fields require both technical and creative ingenuity. Our goal is to encourage these students to have fun and stick with STEM,” shared Professor Lofthouse. 

P-TECH student, John Santiago-Berrios and Dennis Molinaro MT’64.
Photo Credit: Ashley Blackwell


For Binghamton High School senior, John Santiago-Berrios, the 12th Annual Robotics Competition was an opportunity to apply the programming principles that he is learning as a P-TECH student in the Computer Technology track. 

“It took me about a week to build my robot, and then a few days to finish up the programming. Then I just spent my time practicing and strategizing for the event. It was really fun and worth trying if you have never done it before,” said Santiago-Berrios.

Like Professor Lofthouse, Vice President for Academic Affairs, Dr. Penny Kelly was delighted to see so many young innovators at work. “We are constantly being reminded of the incredible workforce demand for scientists, technologists, engineers, and mathematicians. Events like this one are so encouraging. I love looking out at a room full of extraordinarily bright critical thinkers and problem solvers. It’s an honor to have these students on our campus!” 

Seton Catholic 8th Graders enjoying the competition.
Molly Burke, Molly Giblin, Grace Williamson, Lea Zarzynski
Photo Credit: Ashley Blackwell

As part of Women’s History Month, the young ladies in the competition wanted to share an inspiring message about women in STEM. They each proudly reiterated the sentiment that “building a robot is just as fun for the girls, as it is for the boys!”

Are you interested in learning about engineering, design, and programming? Learn more about SUNY Broome’s STEM division!


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