Robots snag flag, paper towers stand under pressure

Two iRobots each guided by students in an adjacent classroom bumped and glided through a obstacle course of upturned chairs, blobs of cardboard, overturned tables and waste cans, a coat hanger and an overstuffed backpack, to reach a hidden flag.


The course, looking more like the aftermath of a serious campus party, was prominently located in the atrium of Featheringill Hall where students gathered to eat free pizza, chips and cookies.

Today’s lunch, the iRobot obstacle course competition, and a tower building competition are part of Engineers Week events, February 16-20, sponsored by various student engineering associations.

In the iRobot competition students had to navigate the obstacle course while sitting at computers in a darkened classroom near the atrium. Two students, each operating a robot, could see the course on a large screen from the vantage point of a small camera mounted on each the robots. When one of the robots reached the flag, that timed round was over.

It took more than an hour for all 13 students to compete. First place winner Will Beaumont received $150. Grant England came in second and won $100. Third place winner Tracy Hancock received $50.

The iRobot Obstacle Course Competition was sponsored by the Engineering Council, engineering honor society Tau Beta Pi, and by the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers student chapter (SHPE).

Near the robot obstacle course 15 teams of students designed paper towers to hold a small, 7 ounce can of corn (rather than a soda can as previously advertised).

Each tower had to support the can of corn for 10 seconds. The three tallest towers meeting that challenge won cash prizes. The fourth place finishers won the can of corn.

Students who signed up for tower building did not know beforehand what materials would be offered to the teams. Their building materials: 100 sheets of white typing paper. That’s it. No glue, tape or staples.

Despite the challenge, students were good-natured about the using the puny paper and 20-minute time limit to build a tower. No consideration was given for the number of pages used to build a tower.

First place winners, with a tower measuring 204 centimeters (6.69291339 feet), are Allanté S. Allen, Danielle Patelis and Irving Suero, who will share $100. Second place winners, who missed first place by 8 tenths of a centimeter, are Tyler Lamb, Will Beaumont, Dylan Vest and Adriana Nickolson, who won $50. Their tower reaching 203.2 centimeters.

Saunak Desai and Tracy Hancock won $25 – third place – for a tower that reached 149 centimeters (4.88845144 feet). Four students, who placed fourth, will share the 7 ounce can of corn, valued at about $1.49. They are Michael Thomas, Murshazwani Musa, Anas Alduntuck, and Nur Fadhilah Hagi Mat Hanip. Their tower stood at 148 centimeters.

The student chapter of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers sponsored the Tower Building Competition.

National Engineers Week was first established in 1951 by the National Society of Professional Engineers. It is traditionally held the week of Presidents Day because George Washington was a military engineer and a land surveyor.

The public is invited to attend remaining E Week events:

Thursday, Feb. 19
Fastest Geek prelim’s

11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Adams Atrium, Featheringill Hall
Computer assembly competition

Friday, Feb. 20
Dell’s Fastest Geek FINALS

12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Adams Atrium, Featheringill Hall
Computer assembly competition
First Place wins Dell laptop * Cash prizes