EDT Testing NASA Robot

Students Nab Third Place at Intelligent Ground Vehicle Competition, Second Place at NASA Competition

UIC’s Engineering Design Team (EDT) are winners. The team’s hard work and skills paid off as they recently captured third and second place positions at two competitions.

In early June, the team earned third place in the Design Competition with its R.E.V.O. robot during the 25th Annual Intelligent Ground Vehicle Competition (IGVC) at Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan.

For the Design Competition, the team submitted a written report, gave an oral presentation, and performed a vehicle demonstration to the IGVC design judge panel. UIC competed against more than 30 colleges from around the world during the competition and missed second place by two points.

The competition challenges students to a world class design and systems engineering experience that is at the cutting edge of engineering education. It is multi-disciplinary, theory-based, hands-on, team implemented, outcome assessed, and based on autonomous vehicle system product realization. For their efforts, the teams receive professional recognition for achievement and cash awards.

For UIC, the third-place win didn’t come easy. The team had to overcome some obstacles that weren’t part of the competition.

“At IGVC, the GPS of the robot, Revo, failed,” said Muhammad Hashim, President of Engineering Design Team and a student in the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department. “It allowed us to focus on other critical areas such as design competition and data collection for software development. It also gave us the opportunity to stress test and debug various aspects of the system in real working conditions rather than approximations or simulations.”

NASA Robotics Mining Competition

In May, the team won the second place Caterpillar Autonomy Award during the 2017 NASA Robotics Mining Competition at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The annual contest hosted by NASA, gives students from across the nation the opportunity to design, build and operate robotic explorers in a bin loaded with simulated Martian soil called regolith. The Caterpillar Autonomy Award is awarded to the teams with the most autonomous points averaged from both mining attempts.

UIC competed against hundreds of students from 44 college teams from across the nation including teams from Alaska, Hawaii and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. The team also ran into problems before the competition, but their education proved they are ready to make decisions and solve problems.

“At RMC, it was a challenge to develop rigid autonomy with very limited test time in the arena, but our team performed very well in very short amount of time,” said Hashim.

The competition is a mixed bag of emotions. The team members are tired, stressed, and their minds race through hundreds of thoughts at once. They are reliving every practice, every malfunction, and every laugh. However, their education and months of preparation kept their vision completely clear, which led to the victory.

“It feels like it was worth putting every single second working on the robots at the EDT shop,” he said. “It motivates us to perform better in the upcoming years. Our success is a true representation of all the hard work and effort our members put in during the year.”

The team was made up of dedicated students and alumni from Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, Electrical and Computer Engineering, and Computer Science.
“Every week, we had meetings regarding the progress and future goals. All the tasks were distributed between members according to their specific engineering skills,” said Hashim. “We worked really hard to make sure we were meeting the deadlines. At the end, the collective effort of all the members came out in a form of a fully working autonomous robots for IGVC and RMC competitions.”

UIC’s Engineering Design Team is a student organization with a primary focus on the implementation of skills and knowledge acquired in the classroom into mobile robotics platforms. The team of next generation scientists, technicians and engineers compete in several competitions annually and help younger students develop their engineering skills. This past year, students and alumni taught more than 30 new members engineering tools during teaching sessions and competitions. Outside of UIC, the team supports high school and elementary school students throughout the region with demonstrations, judging and technical assistance.

Learn more about the Engineering Design Team at https://www.facebook.com/chicagoedt.

By David Staudacher, UIC

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