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Robots to invade MU

The challenge has been dubbed “Ring it Up!” for its creativity.

Zachary Staab
Assoc. News Editor

The challenge has been dubbed “Ring it Up!” for its creativity.
The challenge has been dubbed “Ring it Up!” for its creativity.

Man and Robot will battle together on March 2, 2013, when Millersville University hosts Pennsylvania’s FIRST® Tech Challenge (FTC®) for grades 7-12. The event will be held all day Saturday, March 2 at the Marauder Court area of the Student Memorial Center (SMC). The challenge, dubbed “Ring it Up!,” showcases the creativity, engineering, and technological ability of high school and middle school students through their unique and exciting robotic designs.
Student teams, representing high schools from across the region, will maneuver their robots across a 12’x12’ diamond shaped field, attempting to earn points by placing plastic rings on columns in a game similar to tic-tac-toe. There will be several ring based challenges, and an opportunity to earn bonus points by lifting rival robots completely off the floor.
The acronym FIRST means For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology. The organization was founded in 1989 by Dean Kamen, an accomplished inventor who created a hands-on approach to science and technology, designed to inspire and motivate young people to appreciate the field. While the organization was built to inspire young people, it also serves as a symbol of gracious professionalism, teamwork, and camaraderie for those involved with science and technology.

The winners from 2012’s competition.
The winners from 2012’s competition.

In addition to representing talented high school and middle school students, the competition promotes the facilities and programs offered by the Department of Applied Engineering, Safety and Technology (AEST) at Millersville University. Faculty members from the AEST Department, along with MU students, will be setting up, judging, and orchestrating the day’s activities. Between the hours of 5-7 P.M on Friday and 11A.M. – 2P.M. on Saturday, the AEST Department will be hosting an open house at Osburn Hall for all visitors, students, faculty, and staff. The open house will have exciting demonstrations, free commemorative t-shirts, information about AEST programs, and the option to talk with students and staff. Demonstrations at the open house include a humanoid robot named “NAO” who is learning to read books, a professional ROV (Robotic Remote Operated Vehicle) Submarine, a tele-operated/remote controlled lawn tractor, and several other presentations that highlight the many educational components of AEST.
Dr. Sharon Brusic, associate professor of Applied Engineering, Safety & Technology, will be monitoring activities for the open house and Tech Challenge. Brusic also assisted with gathering volunteers necessary for conducting the numerous activities on the day of the competition.

A robot is seen grabbing a ring from a student to compete in the tic-tac-toe competition.
A robot is seen grabbing a ring from a student to compete in the tic-tac-toe competition.

Brusic said, “We actually expect well over 50 volunteers to participate in making this event happen. Some are connected with MU, particularly from the Department of Applied Engineering, Safety and Technology, but many are also from the surrounding community.” The events, Brusic explained, are intended for everyone on campus, especially undeclared students who are searching for their “niche.” The demonstrations and teamwork associated with the robotic competition portray the engineering, new experiences, problem solving, and organizational skills that Millersville students in applicable majors experience. Brusic is still looking for volunteers to help with the many tasks on March 2. Students may contact Dr. Brusic at 871-5548 to sign up and experience the event as a volunteer.

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