UWF student team places second at National Robotics Challenge

A University of West Florida Hal Marcus College of Science and Engineering student team recently placed second in the Sumo Robot category of the National Robotics Challenge. The competition was held in Marion, Ohio, on April 18-20.

Mechanical engineering majors Kobi Menser, Trey Owens, Emmalee McClain, Vero Vargas Salinas, Luke Bryant, Pedro de Oliveira Camargo and Rafael Machado Esteves worked together to design and develop a Sumo robot. The team was charged with building a self-propelled, autonomous, sensing robot, designed to force another Sumo robot outside a ring. Dr. Hakki Erhan Sevil, assistant professor in the Department of Intelligent Systems and Robotics, was the team’s adviser. 

“This was the first time that UWF participated in the NRC, so there were many unknowns,” Sevil said. “The team did an outstanding job with the learning curve about the competition, and their hard work and dedication brought the success.”

The team started working on this project at the beginning of the Fall 2023 semester. They started by researching and planning an original design and algorithm. The students worked on initial prototypes and revised their design and algorithm according to their observations from prototypes. Following the final component selection, they assembled the final version of their design and started the testing until the competition.

“Overall, they experienced all major steps of developing a new robot from scratch, which involves a multidisciplinary approach that combines aspects of mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, computer science and more,” Sevil said. “This process typically requires creativity, problem-solving skills and collaboration among all team members.”

The competition was knock-out style, and the team won all contests but one, earning the Silver award. 

“Our team is very appreciative to have been able to travel to the National Robotics Challenge in Marion, Ohio, made possible through OUR funding, the funding of the mechanical engineering department, and the guidance of our faculty advisor Dr. Sevil,” McClain said. “It was a great experience to see other universities’ projects and designs for their own robots to inspire us in the future. We were excited to bring home the second-place title in our first competition and look forward to competing again in the future!”

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