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Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

‘Flamethrowers allowed’ at Chico State’s first Robotronica

While the main attraction of the event was the robot fights, the American Institute Mechatronic Engineers president said the true purpose is to showcase all the organization has to offer
Nathan Chiochios
“Flaming Wedgee,” controlled by Heather Vo, melting “Drone,” a lightweight flying robot, in an early fight. Taken by Nathan Chiochios on April 13.

Chico State held its first robot-fighting tournament Saturday afternoon at the Plumas Hall courtyard, featuring high-octane fights and flamethrowing robots.

Robotronica was hosted by the American Institute of Mechatronic Engineers, also known as AIME, a student-led organization aimed toward project experience and professional development.

While the main attraction of the event was the robot fights, AIME president Haseeb Rehman said the true purpose is to showcase all the organization has to offer.

“The event is to show what mechatronics and engineering is as a whole,” he said.

The event is mainly for high schools and junior colleges, with schools like Butte College and Chico High School present. The event not only features robot fighting, but also has booths from several other sections of AIME and other organizations.

While this is the first time Chico State has held a robot fighting competition, Rehman and AIME are looking to continue Robotronica every year.

“Flaming Wedgee,” controlled by Heather Vo, showing off before its first fight of the tournament. Taken by Nathan Chiochios on April 13. (Nathan Chiochios)

The event featured eight three-pound competitors in a tournament bracket, including “Flaming Wedgee,” a flamethrowing bot controlled by Heather Vo.

“Flaming Wedgee” was a fan-favorite due to its flamethrowing ability. In its first match, against “Drone,” a flying bot, “Flaming Wedgee” ended the fight in seconds after melting Drone almost immediately.

The event also saw some heavy hitters in the robot fighting world compete, including the oldest continuously active three-pound robot in robot combat, “Unknown Avenger,” controlled by David Liaw of Team Malice. “Unknown Avenger” is far and away the most trophied fighter in the sport.

Tyler Gomez, the fundraising and event coordinator at AIME and announcer of the event, compared robot fighting to boxing, complete with weight classes and timed fights. 

“It’s like boxing with robots that have weapons on them,” he said. Gomez, a mechanical and mechatronic engineering major, also co-led “Yolk,” one of the robot competitors in the tournament.

Tyler Gomez announcing the next competition early in the event. Taken by Nathan Chiochios on April 13. (Nathan Chiochios)

A lot of work goes into making the robots, from the coding to the electronics. Kevin Cabral, a co-leader at AIME, said that the work is the most fun part, and seeing the finished product is a great feeling.

While most members of AIME are engineering majors, Cabral said that all majors are more than welcome to join and learn how to build and compete.

“We’ll teach you everything you need to know,” he said.

Nathan Chiochios can be reached at [email protected].

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About the Contributor
Nathan Chiochios
Nathan Chiochios, Sports Editor
Nathan Chiochios is in his third year at Chico State as a journalism (news) major. He is from Mountain View, a town in the San Francisco Bay Area. It is his second semester on The Orion, and his first semester as sports editor, and he looks forward to growing his journalism and writing skills. In his free time, he spends most of his time skateboarding and hanging out with friends and family.

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    Kathy Plath // Apr 15, 2024 at 12:17 pm

    This event was awesome! HUGE shout out to Jason Vasquez, the creator of Robotronica and the Chico State’s combat robotics founder!