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February 22, 2010


Bad bots with bad attitudes battle to the end again

It will be mechanized mayhem when miniature robots take to the cage in the sixth annual Smackdown in Sactown battle of the bots, noon-5 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 28, in the University Union Ballroom.

The competition, sponsored by Sacramento State College of Engineering and Computer Science students, features robots weighing one pound or less, meaning operators have to rely on ingenuity instead of brute force to win. Robots, constructed from materials ranging from soup cans to carbon fiber to titanium, battle until they are disabled, flipped over or pushed into a hole.

“Because of their light weight and lack of mass, builders have to come up with cunning ways for their robots to attack and defend,” says Sue Holl, faculty advisor for competitive robotics.

Many of the robots come with miniature saws and other mechanical items to grab, flip and push their opponents.

“It’s not the strong that survive, it’s the smart that survive,” says Bryan Solari, president of Sacramento State’s Competitive Robotics Club.

The competition is part of the annual Engineering Expo that features projects built by students in the college’s competitive clubs. Displays will include human-powered vehicles, remote controlled helicopters, unmanned vehicles, a mini Baja race car, a formula race car, a concrete canoe, a steel bridge and a hover craft. Clubs and local companies will give engineering demonstrations. A remote control blimp will fly indoors above the crowd.

The Expo and Smackdown are open to the public, and anyone can compete. Trophies will be given for first and second place and for most creative robot. T-shirts will be given to the first 100 attendees. Admittance and parking are free (parking structure 2).

For more information on the Smackdown or Expo, visit or contact Bryan Solari at



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