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First-year students score big at 25th annual robot competition

Students gather around a 12-square foot course with their robots in the Recreation and Physical Activity Center as a crowd watches.Students prepare for a preliminary round to begin at the 2019 robotics competition.Students prepare for a preliminary round to begin at the 2019 robotics competition.Engineering, problem-solving and robots were on display at the Recreation and Physical Activity Center April 9 during The Ohio State University College of Engineering’s 25th annual robot competition.

Coinciding with National Robotics Week, the event was the culmination of a semester-long design-and-build project that challenged 253 first-year engineering honors students to design, build and program a fully autonomous robot vehicle in 71 days.

It also helps students learn what engineering entails and if it’s the right fit.

“I don't know of any other program in the world that asks their freshmen students to do something this complex,” said Kathy Harper, a senior lecturer in the Department of Engineering Education. “Our goal this semester is to show students what engineering is about. There is no doubt that they can do engineering and now they know whether it is their thing or not.”

Sixty-six student teams competed in both a round-robin and a single-elimination tournament competition to determine which student-built robot could best execute the required tasks.

This year’s competition simulated the work needed to get an arcade ready for business. Robots had just two minutes to perform specific tasks, including returning a dropped game token to the appropriate location, moving a lever to prepare the claw machine for play, pressing the correct button to reset a game, resetting the foosball table’s score counter and returning to the charging station.

“Students created 66 robots that are all different, all unique and all incredible accomplishments in terms of innovation and engineering,” Harper explained. “These students have worked very, very hard. They have exceeded our wildest expectations and they’ve been doing this for over 25 years.”

The project includes technical and budgetary constraints. Robots are limited to a 9-square-inch footprint and are constructed of various materials, including sheet metal, PVC, acrylic, plywood and Erector set components.

Shreyasi Mukherjee makes an adjustment to her robot as it sits on the competition track.Shreyasi Mukherjee makes final preparations to her team's robot before a competition run begins.

The competition scenario and 12-square-foot course that simulated a classic arcade were designed and built by the program’s student teaching assistants, who are also former Fundamental of Engineering for Honors (FEH) program participants. A new theme, track and tasks are developed each year.

“Being a student in FEH was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, but also one of the best things I’ve ever done,” said undergraduate teaching assistant Maddy Carek, a computer science and engineering major. “It really prepared me for the rest of my engineering coursework.”

More than $20,000 in scholarships were awarded to winning teams, who were scored on design and how well their robots performed in individual and head-to-head runs. 

The single-elimination tournament champion team was made up of Ryan Gallagher, Colin Jordan, Ben Lewan and Evan Philipp, who each received a $250 scholarship thanks to ArcelorMittal's corporate sponsorship.

Other corporate sponsors included American Woodmark, Aptiv, Caterpillar, Garmin, GE Aviation, L Brands, Marathon, Northrop Grumman, Procter & Gamble, Shell and Vision Makers.

Other tournament competition awards:
Second place in tournament: Alex Fornes, Amanda Palutsis, Christabel Paul and Kevin Uth
Third place in tournament: Liam Gallagher, Jay Lee, Jacob Maxson and Zivon Stojanovski
Fourth place in tournament: Jamie Bossenbroek, Kate Frait, Deanna Sprinkle and Andrew Young

Two students get their green Kermit robot ready for a competition run.The F8 team won first place in outstanding aesthetics achievement for their Kermit robot.

Outstanding achievement in engineering:
First place: Kyle Gessel, Josh Harris, Grace Tang and Fletcher Wells
Second place: Jing George, Adam Lis and Konrad Piatkowski
Third place:  Bailey Dillick, Jack Murray, Brian Sharp and Maddie Wilkin
Fourth place: Ian Broadbent, Goodman Li, Collin Mailhot and Sammy Malone

Outstanding achievement in innovation:
First place: Zaid Badiger, Matt Esser, Jack Powers and Kamren Zirger
Second place: Craig Fouts, Jodie Lawson, Aditya Vadlamani and Ellie Wong
Third place: Enoch Jones, Tyler Schimmoller, Anjali Tewari and Athena Wrenn
Fourth place: Srushti Dhile, Joe Fedro, Sery Gunawardena and Patrick Mulligan

Outstanding aesthetics achievement:
First place: Yiyang Huang, Yoma Kawakami and Elek Kayuha
Second place: Tanner Kirk, Jack Kukla and Sri Uppalapati
Third place: Vivian Comer, Tony Kuenzli and Madison Ray
Fourth place: Chris Emling, Will Floyd, Nyigel Spann and Jake Veney

Most consistent in pool play:
First place:  Arthur Bowman, Jenna Hartjen, Emma Lorenzo and Patrick Sheeran
Second place: Ethan Fine, David McGonagle, Dave Verano and Nick Vocaire
Third place: Andrew Haberlandt, Ben Hus, Connor Jenkins and George Kinney
Fourth place: Alex Fornes, Amanda Palutsis, Christabel Paul and Kevin Uth

View more photos from the competition online.

by Candi Clevenger, College of Engineering Communications,