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News Sunday, January 20, 2002
Salem robots head overseas to battle

TIMOTHY J. GONZALEZ / Statesman Journal

Max Chapin (left) and Mark Joerger demonstrate their new robot, The Gap, at Chapin’s South Salem workshop.
Defending “Robotica” champion Mark Joerger has built a new fighter.

Statesman Journal
January 20

It’s not exactly a command performance in front of Queen Elizabeth II, but Salem’s Mark Joerger and his robot Run Away have been invited back to England for another round of “Robot Wars.”

Joerger has traveled the globe to compete in battle-robot competitions. His first creation, Run Amok, was a surprise winner last year on the show “Robotica,” on The Learning Channel.

Last fall, Joerger took a retooled Run Amok, renamed Run Away, to compete in “Robot Wars,” in London.

This week, Joerger, teammate Max Chapin and Team Creative Steel will compete in a new round of Robot Wars, expected to air later this winter on The National Network.

Joerger, his wife, Lissa, and son, Aaron, 10; and Chapin’s family, Josh, 14, Jordan, 10, and his wife, Kristie, leave today for London.

Last fall, Run Away proved no match for the competition in “Robot Wars” and was tossed on its back and knocked out of the running.

This time, Joerger, a Department of Transportation researcher, is heading across the Atlantic with twice as much firepower.

He’s made Run Away more powerful, and with teammate Chapin, constructed a new robot, The Gap, that they hope to stand the competition on its ear, or at least its side.

“The Gap is wildly different from Run Away,”Joerger said.

Unlike piercing and cutting weapons found on other robots, The Gap’s main weapon is a pneumatic arm that can lift up to 400 pounds and dump opposing robots on their sides.

“We’d just as rather put them on their side as cut them in half,” Joerger said.

Joerger and Chapin say they’ve put in long hours to get The Gap ready. They would have liked to have had a few more weeks tweaking and polishing its design.

“We ran out of time with what we wanted to do,” Chapin said.

Chapin owns Creative Steel, a steel fabrication shop in Salem. Joerger specializes in the electronics, and Chapin handles the metal work.

Chapin is excited about the chance to pilot his own robot. He and Joerger don’t know if Run Away will eventually have to face The Gap.

Chapin will handle the controls of The Gap and is as excited as his two sons about being on the show. But it’s not life or death to him.

“I don’t expect to light the world on fire with The Gap,” he said. “And I’m not going to cry if we don’t win.”

Dan de Carbonel can be reached at (503) 399-6714.

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