National Robotics Challenge - History


The National Robotics Challenge has evolved from one of the oldest robotics contests in America, the Society of Manufacturing Engineers Robotic Technology and Engineering Challenge. The SME-RTEC competition was started in 1986, under the guidance and inspiration of Tom Meravi, Associate Professor from Northern Michigan University and the late Dr. James Hannemann, co-chairman of the event. Working behind the scenes, Professor Meravi and Dr. Hannemann volunteered their time and talents tirelessly for fifteen years to help the robotics competition grow, expand, and develop into one of the premier robotics and engineering events in the nation. From its humble beginning, with two work cells and two pick and place competitions, the 2002 competition offered a total of seventeen contests. Dr. Hannemann died suddenly in July 2001. Following his passing, SME announced that the organization was unable to continue its sponsorship of the event at the 2003 awards ceremony in Rochester, New York. Most of the competitors and advisors thought that this was the end, but as with all things, every end can be a new beginning. This new beginning was realized by three educators from Marion, Ohio. On the bus ride from Rochester to Marion, Ed Goodwin, Ritch Ramey, and Tad Douce discussed the possibilities and support that existed in their community for this type of event. When they arrived in Marion each started working on different aspects of a plan to keep the SME contest alive.

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