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Capital University News, California State University, Sacramento
Robots test mettle in CSUS contest Sunday
As two of
the world's most sophisticated robots crawl along the Martian surface
looking for signs of life, a few of their smaller, less complex cousins
will be fighting for their very existence in a battle of the robots in
the University Union Ballroom at California State University, Sacramento,
from noon to 4 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 22.
"This is going to be a destructive competition," CSUS mechanical
engineering senior Nic Haviland explains. "Stuff gets broken-that's
the best part, that's what everyone comes to watch."
The competition, featuring one-pound "ant weight" robots designed
to disable their opponents, is the highlight of an afternoon-long engineering
exposition celebrating National Engineering week.
Haviland, a member of the CSUS Competitive Robotics club, said the competition
puts classroom lessons in electrical and mechanical engineering to work
in a fun way that promotes teamwork.
"You need both electrical and mechanical engineers to build a robot," he
says. "Neither one of us can build a robot on our own so we use a
lot of multidisciplinary design teams." While the robots that will
be Sunday will be small enough to fight their battles on a tabletop, the
club also built Seismic, a 300-pound robot with a air-powered ram built
to hammer its opponents into submission. The club's first venture,
Seismic was designed to battle against other heavyweight robots on a growing
circuit of robotic battlegrounds.
If Seismic is impressive, Haviland says the ant-weight robots are not as
costly to build-or repair after a battle-and make it much easier
for club members to take their engineering lessons out to local schools.
"This gives us the ability to go more places and show more things" he
The CSUS students hope to use robots to interest school children in engineering.
Haviland says many school children already know about robotics-lessons
learned by playing and programming mechanical toys and following the exploits
of NASA's Mars rovers, Spirit and Opportunity.
And, while the distance from the CSUS campus to Mars is about 65 million
miles, Haviland says the NASA rovers and the student robots have more in
common than one would expect.
"The principles NASA uses on the rovers, we possess," he says. "We
might not have their technology, but at least we understand the concepts
and the components."
Haviland said the club is still accepting entries for the competition and
those interested in entering their robots can find more information at www.sacbots.com.
Tickets to the CSUS Ant-Weight Challenge and Engineering Expo are $5 general,
$3 students and free to children under 10 and may be purchased at the University
Ticket Office, through Tickets.com or at the door.
For tickets call (916) 278-4323; for information about the expo and competition,
call (916) 296-6080. Media assistance is available from CSUS public affairs
at (916) 278-6156.
California State University, Sacramento Public Affairs
6000 J Street Sacramento, CA 95819-6026 (916) 278-6156