First-year students come to the rescue of Rosie in the Autumn Robotics Challenge

First-year students come to the rescue of Rosie in the Autumn Robotics Challenge

First-year electrical and computer engineering students came to rescue Rosie, the college’s elephant mascot, from alien monsters in a special robotics challenge that collected lessons learned in this fall’s engineering practice course.

The teams have created remote-controlled, autonomous Lego Minestorm robots that assemble three Rosie figurines scattered across a playground the size of a table tennis table. The robots had to find Rosie, wrestle her away from the monster, and move her through a cave to a safe area to receive care.

During the project development process, students learned the elements of teamwork, programming, circuits, documenting their work, and dealing with failure and conflict.

said department chair Mario Simone, Ph.D., and one of the professors for the 10-week course. Other course benefits include introducing students to the department’s faculty, classmates, and alumni.

“This had more engineering applications than any other course I will be taking this fall. I thoroughly enjoyed it,” said electrical engineering major David Dalton. “We were learning something new in almost every class session.”

His teammate Caden Nutter, a computer engineering student, added, “I know calculus or physics is important, but programming, circuits and robotics are what I want to do with my life. I was excited to come to class every week.”

The two classmates joined computer engineering majors Conor Whitkemper and Sam Zeke on a team that achieved a surprising third-place result in the final round of three rounds—each of which successively reduces the original 24 teams, based on points earned while saving the three Roses. Along the way the quadruple was the last team to advance to the next round, finishing 12The tenthSixth and third, finally.

“This was very satisfying,” said Nutter, who ran a remote control that kept the team robot collecting points throughout each three-minute round. “We kept things simple and got better every time. Our standalone (computer) program was also consistent.”

Other teams have benefited from a more detailed and strategic approach to rescue missions. Mr.Roboto’s team was top scorer in all three rounds and earned the highest honors in the finals. Team members were computer engineering students Siddharth Bede, Sean Roddy, Django Wardlow, and electrical engineering student Cohen Woods.

“Improving our systems and fine-tuning the joystick(s) has given us an edge,” Wardlow said. “We just tried to do our best every round and see where we landed. Fortunately, we finished first.”

Meanwhile, Team B110 finished second in the finals after being the best team in the first two stages. The members were computer engineering students Ellis Lyons, Jacob Richardson, and Adi Sangol, along with electrical engineering pioneer Kobe Stoudemire.

“We have learned that programming is much more difficult than we thought,” Richardson said. “I have written a lot of code (on the computer) in the past. However, coding for a physical robot was definitely a challenge. Not everything went the way we wanted, but we figured things out.”

Each team’s bot performance does not affect a student’s grade in the course. This is a practical class training.

“At this time in the first semester, first year students need to pick well and have some fun,” Simone said. “We found this to be a great way to introduce students to electrical engineering, computer engineering, and the department.”

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