May 9, 2012 at 12:03 PM ET
Robotics technology has come a long way since "Battlebots," a fact proven by a recent fight to the death between cyber-gladiators built by high school students. Just watch the sparks fly in the video above, then read on.
The National Robotics League National Competition pits robots in a destruction-driven-faceoff inside a ring surrounded by bullet-proof glass, in a battle meant to prepare American students for manufacturing jobs in the 21st century.
The robots are mostly low to the ground and wield destructive weapons such as spinning metal blades that could slice the competition in half. The rough and tumble nature of the battle is all good, fairly clean, fun, of course.
The middle and high school students design their killer robots with the assistance of the National Tooling and Machining Association, which founded the league in 2007.
“There are more than 600,000 openings in manufacturing for skilled workers, with this number to rise even further as the economy picks up steam,” NTMA board member Rob Overton, who runs Overton Industries in Morreseville, Indiana, said in a press release.
The Grand Champion of the annual national robotic gladiator competition, held Saturday in Indianapolis, was Still in Shock 2, a metal-box bruiser built by students at Plum Senior High School in Pennsylvania.
For more information, check out the National Robotics League.
John Roach is a contributing writer for msnbc.com. To learn more about him, check out his website and follow him on Twitter. For more of our Future of Technology series, watch the featured video below.