By Ryan Sanudo
On Wednesday, Nov 15, Sacred Heart University’s first-year engineering explorations lab class held an event called “The SHUmo Bot Challenge,” held in the Main Academic Building.
“I don’t know much about engineering, but this event is very intriguing,” said freshman, Brian Smith, spectator. “Between the excitement of the crowd, to the effort of the students, I’ll definitely go to one of these again.”
It was organized by Dr. Tolga Kaya, assistant professor of computer engineering.
“We meet on Wednesdays,” said Kaya. “In this class, I want students to explore, design, and program. They’ve done that. By doing this project, I wanted them to simply tune-up today, so they wouldn’t control the robot, and that [the robot]would do it by itself.”
Five groups of four, competed against each other in a battle with their robot creations. Each robot battle was a one-on-one combat on a sumo ring, hence the event name, “SHUmo”. If the robot fell out of the platform first, then it lost that particular battle.
“Every semester we will do an event like this, to broaden the knowledge of the engineering students, and get them acclimated to this type of setting,” said Kaya.
Freshman, Nathaniel Barrone, discussed the technological aspect of making these robots.
“We had to build a machine with legos,” said Barrone. “We built everything, except for the main block. Outside of that, we had to program where we coded everything into the block which then ran the program to turn what it would do on the actual arena.”
For Barrone it was time-consuming, to say the least.
“It took four weeks to make. We meet once a week, for two and a-half hours. It was about four hours of actual work, but that was learning the program and building our individual robots,” said Barrone.
Of the five groups that participated: International, SHUMakers, Pioneers, Pacha, and Kangas, Kangas won the challenge in the final match against Pacha.
Freshman, Steven Bader, was very excited his group won after all the work they put into building their robot.
“We were a little nervous, because we had a couple of on-the-spot problems that developed, but thankfully, we were able to fix the whole thing up towards the end,” said Bader. “We have a lot riding on this robot, since it took eight hours of work.”
There will be another opportunity to participate in an event like this, says Bader.
“There’s another preceding lab after the lab we’re in now, that we’re all deciding to take next semester. Since we took Engineering I, we’ll be taking Engineering II,” said Bader.
Speaking of immediate problems, a couple groups had difficulty with the robot. In one instance, the robot was going out-of-control, and was moving backwards, which forced a defeat.
Freshman, Matt Lawrence, described the issues that occurred in his group, ‘International.’
“Our program stopped working, so I had to make a program on the fly within five minutes,” said Lawrence. “In the program, there are infrared sensors. It detects any object, so if the sensors detects in a certain amount of space, it’ll move forward. There are times though, in which it may malfunction. If any of the wires come out of place, it would stop moving.”
Dr. Kaya was pleased with the way his students handled the project, and sees promise in them.
“I’m so proud in them building and programming robots that could sumo-wrestle in just four weeks. Truly remarkable,” said Kaya.