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Final year Mechatronics Engineering students recently put their skills to the test designing and developing autonomous robots to compete in a Sumorobot Competition at Deakin University's Geelong Waurn Ponds Campus.
The competition forms part of the students' assessment. Dr Ben Horan and Dr Matthew Joordens from Deakin's School of Engineering have been running the class for the last five years.
'The competition is part of a final year Mechatronic Engineering subject which employs a design based approach to engineering education. The competition is seen by many students as the pinnacle of their degrees, and provides them with a project they can show prospective employers as a demonstration of their engineering ability,' Dr Horan explains.
'The robots need to be designed according to specific design criteria and it is up to students to use their creativity and imagination to design their robot to outwit, outmanoeuvre, and overpower other students' robots,' Dr Horan says.
'This year's robots needed to weigh less than one kilogram which is of course an important consideration for a Sumorobot which is designed to push other robots out of the competition ring.
'We are continually surprised by the imagination, creativity, and out-of-the-box thinking of our students. Just when you think you have seen all possibilities, a student will completely surprise you.'
This year's winner was Benjamin Champion.
'The secret to his robot's success was to keep his design simple, mechanically robust and to use powerful motors and a lot of wheel traction,' Dr Horan says.
'Within the School of Engineering we have long valued design-based approaches to teaching Engineering, and often hear from students how effective it can be to complement theoretical concepts and really enforce students' understanding.'
See the robots in action on Deakin's YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dnP8bsA-nyY&feature=youtube_gdata