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Alumnus contribution sparks robotics innovation

A $100,000 charitable gift is helping NDSU engineering students create new innovations in the field of robotics, while gaining important hands-on experience outside the classroom.

NDSU alumnus Barry Batcheller, BS ’77, electrical and electronics engineering, made the gift to the Bison Robotics student group. Club president Andrew Vetter said the money, $20,000 per year for the next five years, will be instrumental in purchasing parts and supplies for the group’s various engineering-based competition teams.

“Funding is always a challenge,” Vetter said. “That’s why Barry’s generosity has made such a huge difference.”

Bison Robotics teams like the NASA Robotic Mining CompetitionAutonomous Snowplow and Quadcopter compete against universities from around the country and around the world. Several have won awards for their work, but students say they’re always looking for ways to improve, innovate and update their designs.

Two NDSU students formed Bison Robotics in 2014 to inspire students of all ages to get involved in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. 

This year, the group has about 80 members and seven student projects. Working on the teams gives students the chance to gain valuable leadership, communication and professional skills. Members also provide outreach and support to K-12 robotics programs by volunteering thousands of hours a year.  

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