UIC robots crush Midwestern competition

College of Engineering students in robot competition

Members of the Engineering Design Team with their winning robots.

Robots designed, built and operated by UIC engineering students demolished the competition in a two-day contest for Midwestern universities.

UIC’s Engineering Design Team took home top prizes at the 26th annual Jerry Sanders Creative Design Competition, sponsored by AMD Inc. and held March 8-9 on the Urbana-Champaign campus.

Every March, robotics teams from universities across the Midwest test their skills and creativity at the challenge. This year’s challengers included UIC, Valparaiso, Northern Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, Illinois Institute of Technology and College of DuPage.

The UIC team entered three robots to win first-place and demolition champion honors at the competition.

“Each robot takes about six months to make,” said Zachary Quinn, president of UIC’s team and a senior in electrical engineering.

“All three were made in unison with each other. About two months are spent on design, one month for manufacturing, two weeks for assembly, and the rest for planning and prototyping mechanisms, which is the most important part of the robot.”

The tasks for the robots this year involved picking up flexible soccer cones, then depositing them on vertical and horizontal rods in a special pattern.

This year the team opted for powerful name choices: Thanatos, the demon personification of death, and Lamashtu, the female demi-goddess who menaces and kidnaps children.

They changed it up a bit for the last robot, named Richard.

“Richard was the wildcard. It was an experimental robot that did not want to follow the typical naming scheme,” Quinn said.

The design team has about 40 members, most of them majoring in mechanical engineering, electrical engineering or bioengineering.

“This year, we added a lot of new freshman and sophomore members to the team,” Quinn said.

“This success has fueled their interest in the team, and will help us be competitive for our next competition in June.”

The students’ success reflects their talent, said College of Engineering dean Peter Nelson.

“This interdisciplinary project with constrained resources, tight deadlines and tough competition is great career preparation,” Nelson said.

“One of my messages to companies is that they can hire UIC engineering students who will match or exceed the quality of students from any university in the country.”


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