Robotics Involves Students In Two Competitions
Students in the intro course to robotics offered by the Department of Computer Sciences recently created robots for the Predator-Prey Challenge in Goshen Lounge. And, students in the Department of Electrical Engineering took third place in the robotics contest at the Annual Region 5 Conference of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers recently held in St. Louis.
George Engel, associate professor of Computer and Electrical Engineering, was mentor to one of the SIUE teams at the IEEE conference, while Jerry Weinberg, assistant professor of Computer Sciences, mentored the other.
The third place team at the St. Louis event consisted of Nasr Khan, Saleh Ismail, Tina Hinton, and Todd Sproull.. The students who won the Predator-Prey Challenge in Goshen Lounge were Kathryn Verdoorn and Steve Flemke, in the Prey Category, while David Rudolph and Samara Secor won in the Predator Category.
The competition in Goshen Lounge pitted groups of two teams, each designated as either “prey” or “predator.” Each team designed a robot and programmed it to meet its goals. “The goal of the predator was to capture the prey,” Weinberg said, “while the goal of the prey was to find its way to the safety of its den.”
Engel said the IEEE contest had students build a robot that could navigate a maze. The robot navigating the maze in the shortest time was declared winner.
Weinberg said these robotics challenges are a way to offer an experience that allows a comprehensive view of an integrated engineered system. “It provides a picture that illustrates the connection between the mechanical, electrical and computing components of a system,” Weinberg said. “And, the robot competitions provide a capstone design project for studying these systems.
“Even though competitions have winners and losers, all the students who participate win through the experience itself,” Weinberg said.
Engel, who also received the IEEE’s Outstanding Student Branch Counselor Award for1999 at the annual conference, said teamwork and broad knowledge, cutting across engineering disciplines, is becoming increasingly important in the world of engineering today. “To be successful in a robotics contest, students must excel in a wide variety of skills,” Engel explained.
“The IEEE robotics competition provides a challenging and fun-filled opportunity to practice these essential skills. For the SIUE School of Engineering, these types of competitions are important because they increase the visibility of our programs in the community and region.
“The success of students in competitions of this sort are a testimonial to the quality of undergraduate education at SIUE.”