Members of the ECU team at the ATMAE robot competition included industrial engineering technology students, computer science majors, a computer science graduate student, a design major and several industrial technology students. (Contributed photo)
SOLVING PROBLEMS ECU robotics team takes third in national competition
A team of College of Technology and Computer Science students worked hard to overcome a few obstacles and place third in 2013 Association of Technology, Management and Applied Engineering’s (ATMAE) national robotics competition in New Orleans.
It was the fourth year of ECU’s student chapter of ATMAE participating in the competition.
The robot designed for this competition had to pick up colored ping pong balls autonomously from a table, and then manually from the floor, sort them by color, and place them in the correct, color-specific 2-foot-high basket. Each color ball is worth a certain number of points for scoring purposes and time was also a factor in scoring. The robot had to perform all tasks within five minutes.
After some technical issues in the first round, the team worked tirelessly to troubleshoot and fix several problems. Some students stayed up most of the first night to reprogram the robot.
Their strategic efforts paid off in the second round. The ECU robot worked more effectively in collecting the balls and the team scored the highest number of points – more than any other team in a single round.
Members of the ECU team make adjustments to their robot to enhance its performance.
“Despite having technical issues, our students remained focused and worked very hard to troubleshoot and fix the robot,” said T.J. Mohammed, chair of the Department of Technology Systems.
“They came back with both barrels blasting and earned the highest score of the competition. It was an incredible finish and the level of excitement was through the roof.”
“It was neat to see everyone on their feet watching our robot get every ball,” said ECU team member Mohammed Abdo.
In addition to designing and building the robot to meet specific parameters, the team also produced a poster and technical report, which tested the team’s marketing and presentation skills.
Amy Frank, ATMAE faculty advisor at ECU, has traveled with the team every year. “This year’s team was different,” Frank said. “Besides taking these students on an adventure to the annual conference, I enjoy seeing them actually applying the technology they learned in their major courses.
“This is what Technology Systems is all about – working with materials, process, and people to solve a technical problem. They also realize the importance of project management and having team members outside of their discipline.”
Team members included industrial engineering technology students, computer science majors, a computer science graduate student, a design major and several industrial technology students who volunteered their time.
“Students from these departments typically never interact,” Frank said. “Yet, in today’s world, this collaboration and interaction is what makes these students more marketable to employers.”