Virginia Western Community College’s School of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) along with its Engineering and Engineering Technology programs will host the 12th annual autonomous robot competition Dec. 1 in the college’s Humanities Building gym. In addition to 10 teams of Virginia Western students, 22 teams total comprised of middle school, high school and college students from the area will be putting their robots to the test. The fun-filled event is free to attend and a crowd of robot and technology enthusiasts is expected.
This year’s competition theme is “Hurricane Rescue-Bots.” As in years past, the competition is based on the annual American Society for Engineering Education national competition. Local teams began the design process in September for their autonomous robots and will continue creating and testing through November. Their robots will be programmed to navigate hurricane-obstacles on a track to rescue wooden pegs representing people.
“This year’s competition is pretty tough but the students are doing a great job so far. It’s really neat to see the concepts they brainstormed in early September start to take shape,” said George Studtmann, engineering professor. “In the robot project, there is a lot of design, build, test, fail and try again. This is exactly what engineering is about. It’s great to see the ‘Aha’ moments when things start to work.”
The challenge offers a hands-on learning activity as students must create a design, perform 3D modeling, budget and order parts, assemble their robots, complete multiple test trials and troubleshoot software bugs. The excitement of competition day is that anything and everything can happen.
Teams will present their designs in a science fair poster session from 8:45 a.m. to 10 a.m. Engineering and STEM judges from around the Roanoke Region and Virginia Western will grade each team. Then, at 10 a.m., the teams will demonstrate their robots in a series of five trials. The winning team will be recognized around noon. Please join Virginia Western for an action-packed, energetic morning – and may the best robot win!
WHAT: 12th Annual Autonomous Robot Competition
WHEN: 8:30 a.m.-Noon, Saturday, Dec. 1
WHERE: Virginia Western Humanities Building Gym