Friday, June 18, 2010

OU Tech Students Win Robotics Competition

by Kathryn Cook,
Greg Lindsey,
Nathan Takitch,
Catherine Morris,

Four senior electrical engineering students from the Russ College of Engineering and Technology formed a first-ever team that designed and built a robot to participate in the International Micromouse competition. After nine months, their hard work paid off with a first place regional finish

The team, which was comprised of Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers president Bill Dixon and members Sonja Abbey, Eric Rico and Patrick Dowell, spent many long nights designing and testing the micromouse in their own custom built model maze.

Colleen Carow, director of external communications for the college, said the students participate in extracurricular design projects such as this because it gives them an opportunity to apply the skills they learn in classes and gain real world experience

The robot used infrared sensors and a simple computer processor called a microcontroller to find it’s own route to the center of the maze, and then calculate and execute that optimal route.

The students avoided numerous potential problems by observing previous teams and learning from their errors. However, their project faced it’s own unique issues, ranging from the accidental destruction of their model maze to changing light conditions and unreliable sensors.

In the end, however, these issues proved to be only a minor impediment on the way to a first place finish for the soon-to-be graduates. They have laid the foundations of a strong robotics program that they hope will be continued by future undergrads at Ohio University in years to come.