Building BattleBots and a Future for Robotics

Aug. 16, 2022


a medium-sized, spider-like robot on a floor
Former UA Engineering student Matt Bunting built this hexapod robot as an undergraduate. Students in a new College of Engineering club will build battle-ready robots of a similar size.

Project Title: BattleBots

Team 22037 Members:

Al Hurworth, mechanical engineering

Mathias Ramirez, aerospace engineering

Nick Sivertson, mechanical engineering

Other members TBD


a student standing with a racecar
Al Hurworth

Sponsor: Wildcat Robotics, supported by Craig M. Berge Dean's Fund

Al Hurworth has loved his time in the College of Engineering Baja SAE club, which he joined his first year at the University of Arizona. In Baja SAE, students design, build, test and race a single-seat, off-road car.

“It’s brought a ton of value to my education and taught me so much about real-world engineering,” said Hurworth, a senior majoring in mechanical engineering who was club president his junior year.

The club’s leaders typically formulate an Interdisciplinary Capstone project related to Baja SAE. For instance, seniors have worked on an electronic continuously variable transmission for the team vehicle for the last two years. But Hurworth had a different idea for this year. He wanted to create a new student club for combat robotics and build a fighting robot like those seen on the TV show “BattleBots.”

“It’s a cool project, and we have the team this year to start the club and bring that opportunity to a lot of students that are interested,” he said.

Hurworth is teaming up with fellow Baja SAE officers Nick Sivertson, also a mechanical engineering major, and Mathias Ramirez, who studies aerospace engineering. They will choose three additional students to join Team 23037.


a student building car parts
Nick Sivertson

Michael Marcellin, Regents Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, will serve as the project advisor for the Interdisciplinary Capstone project, then as the club’s adviser. Marcellin has invested time and funds into student clubs, including Baja SAE, Wildcat Formula Racing, the Arizona Autonomous Vehicles Club and the Coaster Cats, for the past decade. He believes the hands-on experiences they provide students are unmatched.

“Everything we do in the classroom is great, and labs are very helpful for cementing concepts,” he said. “The clubs go one step further. It's a very unstructured environment where they have to think things through, make decisions and solve real-world problems.”

One Project, Two Goals

“BattleBots,” an adaptation of a British TV show, is currently in its 11th season on Discovery Channel. It premiered on Comedy Central in 2000 and was in hiatus from 2003 to 2015. While networks and hosts have changed, competing teams still design, build and operate remote-controlled robots in an arena elimination tournament.

Marcellin explained the appeal: “Engineers like to make things that work. And they also like to make things that break other things.”


a student building a racecar
Mathias Ramirez

Team 22037’s prototype goal is to build a robot that complies with the “BattleBots” rules and to submit it to the show for consideration. Acceptance into the tournament relies mainly on creativity, so this criterion will serve as a main design guideline. If successful, the team will demonstrate full robot functionality at Craig M. Berge Design Day in 2023.

The team will also detail the structure for the future club and establish a foundation for its members to access the resources needed to continue its growth, such as company sponsorships. Hurworth is confident he, Sivertson and Ramirez have gained the experience to achieve success in this effort.

“There’s already kind of an excitement,” said Hurworth. “A lot of people know what it is, and everybody I’ve talked to is interested.”

He’s also grateful Marcellin and David W. Hahn, the college’s Craig M. Berge Dean, agreed to sponsor and back the project.

“It’s an awesome feeling to say, ‘Hey I have this idea; what do you think?’ and having them be so supportive. It shows how dedicated they are to students and to supplementing classroom learning,” he said.

Get started and sponsor a project now!

UA engineering students are ready to take your project from concept to reality.