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College of Engineering Students Excel in Robotics Competition

A new undergraduate course in robotics is already "paying dividends," according to Computer and Information Science Professor Ramprasad Balasubramanian, who advised two student teams to second and fourth place showings at the 2008 IEEE International Conference on Technologies for Practical Robot Applications (TePRA) Robotic Competition.

A new undergraduate course in robotics is already "paying dividends," according to Computer and Information Science Professor Ramprasad Balasubramanian, who advised two student teams to second and fourth place showings at the 2008 IEEE International Conference on Technologies for Practical Robot Applications (TePRA) Robotic Competition.

The contest, held in Woburn, was sponsored by iRobot. Competitors designed a target detection computer program to operate an iRobot Create. The object of the contest was to see how many beacon targets the autonomous robot could find without colliding with obstacles. Several teams vied in the double-elimination, head-to-head competition using an 8 by 16 foot space and five minute time limits.

Computer science majors Matthew Donoughe, a junior from Uxbridge and Kevin Cormier, a senior from Fairhaven, comprised the second-place team. Computer engineering majors Julian Plante of New Bedford and Nick Savery of Franklin finished fourth. Significantly, they bested teams from iRobot and Worcester Polytechnical Institute (WPI), which has a recognized robotics research laboratory.

"These results are a testament to how bright and well prepared our students are at UMass Dartmouth," said Balasubramanian. "It's a clear sign we are doing something right here."

The results were especially heartening  because this was UMass Dartmouth's first attempt at this type of competition. Balasubramanian said that the experience served as a "stepping stone," for planned, future contests.
 

Author:  "John Hoey"
Date:  29-Jan-2009
Department:   College of Engineering

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