Robot simulation challenges future engineers

(12-18-2015)

Alysia Martinez and Alyia Blea, overcome the loss of Bluetooth connection during their Adams State University Intro to Engineering Design final on December 16.

Alysia Martinez and Alyia Blea overcome the loss of Bluetooth connection.

Adams State University Intro to Engineering Design students designed, built, and programmed Lego Robots and tested their abilities on an obstacle course for the final on December 16.

Chemistry, Computer Science and Mathematics Department Chair Dr. Matt Nehring said a National Geographic documentary film on the Curiosity Rover Mars Mission inspired the challenge. The project, "Planetary Rover Sample Retrieval-Mission," was a simulated unmanned rover mission with the goal of rock-sample retrieval from two separate regions of a planet. "The students worked in groups for about six weeks on the project and, among other things, discovered that subtle changes in a design can be the difference between success and failure."

A high school math teacher inspired Alyia Blea '19 to pursue engineering. "I think the most challenging aspect of the project was the programing because you have to get the programing just right so the robots don't fall off or crash into a wall," she said. "My favorite part was building the robots because it was a way to challenge my brain."

Emily Novotny and Jessica Samora concentrate on their Lego robot dropping in the right spot during their Adams State University Intro to Engineering Design final on December 16.

Emily Novotny and Jessica Samora concentrate on their Lego robot dropping in the right spot.

Jessica Samora '19, Jennifer Weeks '19, and Emily Novotny, an Alamosa High School student, teamed up for the challenge. Samora, from Monte Vista, said their robots completed the task perfectly the day before but during the final they had issues. "We didn't consider that other groups might move the rope, which caused our robots to stop short of our planned destination, throwing off the rest of our programming."

Novonty said her favorite part of the project was the teamwork. "Wherever I had a weakness, I had a teammate who had strength in that field." Passing or failing could come down to a tenth of an inch difference in landing or rotations for the robots. "Predicting all the variables which could go wrong took a lot of foresight and dedication to the project."