The robotics team at Southern Illinois University Carbondale continued its dominance at a national engineering competition, winning top honors in three out of four categories and winning the overall competition. The five-member student team, along with faculty adviser Bruce DeRuntz, professor of technology, competed at the Association of Technology, Management and Applied Engineering’s robotics contest during its annual conference and competition, Nov. 1-3 in Cincinnati. The team took first place in the obstacle course, presentations and was the overall champion. Shown here, from left to right, are team members Nick Sjoberg, Nate Johnson, Ryan Guss, Paul Schumacher and Lincoln Kinley. Photo provided
November 09, 2017
Robotics team dominates for second-straight year
CARBONDALE, Ill. – The robotics team at Southern Illinois University Carbondale continued its dominance at a national engineering competition, winning top honors in three out of four categories and winning the overall competition.
The five-member student team, along with faculty adviser Bruce DeRuntz, professor of technology, competed at the Association of Technology, Management and Applied Engineering’s robotics contest during its annual conference and competition, Nov. 1-3 in Cincinnati. The five-member team took first place in the obstacle course, presentations and was the overall champion.
The performance followed the team’s top marks at last year’s event in Orlando, Fla. During that competition, the team won nearly half of all the possible points available to all teams competing, dominating in the head-to-head obstacle course competition, as well as winning Best Electronic Control, Methodology, Best Fabrication/Innovation, Best Poster, Best Technical Presentation and Audience Favorite.
This year’s contest coincided with ATMAE’s 50th anniversary, and DeRuntz said team members knew they had bring their best in order repeat as champions. Operating their custom-designed-and-built robot dubbed “Winston,” in honor of the recently retired and well-known bagel man in Carbondale, the students did just that.
“We were the only team to receive a perfect score for both of the portions, although it was a very close competition,” DeRuntz said.
Mastering the Competition
For the first portion of the obstacle course, the robot was tasked with retrieving five hacky sacks and bringing them back the starting box. One hacky sack was out in the open, one was in a 10-inch plastic pipe, one was under a 5-pound weight, one was on top of a 5-pound weight and one was inside a cardboard box.
“The driver of the robot had to be switched between every obstacle, so all five members ended up driving the robot,” DeRuntz said.
The second part required the robot to “score” with the bag. Two of the scores were made by a driver manipulating the robot to drop them in a corn-hole board. The other three, however, required the robot to autonomously drop the hacky sacks into a 4-inch-wide pipe cap after using onboard sensors to follow a 28-inch piece of metallic duct tape placed on the ground by a team member.
The SIU team bested eight other universities, including Eastern Illinois University, the University of Texas at Tyler, Iowa State University, Alcorn State University, East Carolina University, Ohio University, Ohio Northern University and Mississippi State University.
Planning for the Future
Lincoln Kinley, a member of the team and president of the SIU Robotics Club, said the students have big plans moving forward. They will send two teams to compete in the Midwestern Robotics Design Competition, as well as two teams to Robobrawl, a robot combat competition, both held in March at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.
The club also is preparing for the NASA Mining Competition in 2019 and are trying to raise funds to do so.
“Besides that, we also have other projects in the pipeline,” he said. “We hope will help SIU Robotics become a nationally known robotics team.”
About the Team
Nate Johnson of Abingdon held the position of engineering manager. A junior studying electrical engineering, he is planning a career in systems engineering. As engineering manager, Johnson was responsible for the overall design, which included creating a full computer-assisted design assembly and overseeing the fabrication of the robot. He also improved his TIG welding knowledge by learning the tips and tricks of aluminum welding to make a strong and robust chassis.
Nick Sjoberg of Huntley held the position of hardware manager. He is a senior in the electrical engineering technology program. His job was implementing the necessary electrical components needed for smooth operations. Sjoberg also used his machining skills to fabricate the complex pieces required for the custom chassis. Sjoberg also was a member of last year’s winning team.
Lincoln Kinley of Springfield held the position software manager. He is a junior studying electrical and computer engineering, and is the president of the SIU Robotics Club. He served as the main programmer of the robot, writing the necessary code to allow it to complete all the given objectives of the competition. Kinley also wired all of the electrical components. Kinley also was a member of last year’s winning team.
Ryan Guss of Sycamore was the team’s engineering leaders. He is a junior studying electrical and computer engineering. He was in charge of testing and validation to ensure the robot was capable of completing the course. Guss also created a practicing system to optimize the team’s obstacle maneuvering methods. He also is the Engineering Student Council representative for SIU Robotics. Guss also was a member of last year’s winning team.
Paul Schumacher of Teutopolis was the team’s project manager. He is a senior in industrial management and applied engineering. He is interested in the areas of project management and leadership, and assuming this role has helped him gain relevant experience. As project manager, Schumacher’s major duties included developing a project plan, conducting weekly design meetings, keeping the team on schedule, and taking care of the logistics and finances involved with going to the competition.