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05-02-2011

Clarkson University-Sponsored Robotics Teams Show Their Moves at FIRST Championship Event

[Photographs for media use are available at http://www.clarkson.edu/news/photos/FIRST-2011-robot.jpg, http://www.clarkson.edu/news/photos/FIRST-2011-team.jpg, and http://www.clarkson.edu/news/photos/FIRST-2011-CARD.jpg.]

Participating in its 13th season, the Clarkson University-sponsored FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) Team (No. 229: Division By Zero) participated in the FRC Championship event along with 352 teams April 27-30 in St. Louis, Mo.

Team 229’s robot, Derivative, with four logos and an “uber” tube scores at the FRC Championship event.Team 229 competed among 88 teams in the championship‘s Archimedes Division, where it placed 20th after nine rounds of qualifying matches and was selected to participate in the elimination round of divisional play, where it was defeated in the semi-final round.

The team consists of 20 Clarkson undergraduate students from a variety of majors who mentor 40 local high school students from the Massena and Salmon River central school districts, as part of a year-round robotics-based outreach effort.

The team is co-advised by Clarkson Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering James J. Carroll and Assistant Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Kevin Fite, as well as teachers Charles Raiti of Salmon River Central School District, and Steve Robert and Darcie Fregoe of Massena Central School District. 

Team 229 members from Clarkson University, Massena Central School and Salmon River Central School in attendance at the FRC Championship event in St. Louis. Teams participating in this year’s game, called LOGO MOTION, had six weeks to design and build a human-sized mobile robot capable of both autonomous and tele-operation on a 54-foot-long by 27-foot-wide field. Two teams compete against one another in changing alliances of three robots each, scoring points by gripping inflated tubes in the shape of the FIRST Logo elements and then raising them up to posts along a wall at their end of the field. 

Bonus points are awarded if teams can successfully place a special “uber” tube on a post during an autonomous period at the beginning of a match or deploy a “minibot,” i.e., a small electro-mechanical assembly independent of the host robot, designed to race to the top of a vertical pole on the field at the end of a match. After two minutes and 15 seconds of game play, the match ends and the alliance score is totaled.

The team also participated at the FRC Finger Lakes Regional held in Rochester, N.Y., in March, where its alliance finished as semi-finalists and was part of the winning alliance at the Long Island Regional held in Hempstead, N.Y., in March, which qualified the team for the championship event. The team’s robot, nicknamed Derivative, also won the Motorola Quality Award at the Long Island event in celebration of its robustness in concept and fabrication.

Clarkson University team members participating in the inaugural FIRST Collegiate-level Aerial Robotics Demo (CARD) event (left to right): Colin Cavanaugh, Kevin Brown and Rani Almuti. Not present for photo: Peter Reiniger.Also in St. Louis, a team of Clarkson students took first place out of ten institutions of higher education in the inaugural FIRST Collegiate-level Aerial Robotics Demo (CARD) program in a game called “All Your Base” involving coordinated alliances of one aerial robot and one ground robot interacting with a 3 by 3 grid of rectangular bases. 

Ground robots capture bases by shooting projectiles (tennis balls) through openings on sides of the base. Aerial robots capture bases by picking up a virtual payload from their starting location and then landing on top of the base. Teams score bonus points by capturing three bases in a row.

“Their performance was particularly remarkable, given the fact that the students involved had only four weeks to design and build the two robot systems, nicknamed Wally (the ground vehicle) and Alice (the aerial vehicle), which included both autonomous and tele-operated modes of operation,” said Carroll.

For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST), is a not-for-profit organization devoted to helping young people discover and develop a passion for science, engineering, technology, and math. Founded over 20 years ago by inventor Dean Kamen, its robotics-oriented programs annually attract over 200,000 youth and 90,000 mentors, coaches, and volunteers from over 56 countries. The annual programs culminate in an international championship event and celebration where teams win recognition, gain self confidence, develop people and life skills, make new friends, and perhaps discover an unforeseen career path.

Clarkson’s FIRST Robotics team is part of the SPEED program, one of the Wallace H. Coulter School of Engineering hallmark initiatives, exemplifying Clarkson’s "defy convention" approach to education. SPEED promotes multidisciplinary, project-based learning opportunities for more than 350 undergraduates annually. Projects involve engineering design, analysis, and fabrication. In addition, students learn real-world business skills, such as budget management, effective teamwork, and communications skills.

Clarkson University launches leaders into the global economy. One in six alumni already leads as a CEO, VP or equivalent senior executive of a company. Located just outside the Adirondack Park in Potsdam, N.Y., Clarkson is a nationally recognized research university for undergraduates with select graduate programs in signature areas of academic excellence directed toward the world's pressing issues. Through 50 rigorous programs of study in engineering, business, arts, sciences and health sciences, the entire learning-living community spans boundaries across disciplines, nations and cultures to build powers of observation, challenge the status quo, and connect discovery and engineering innovation with enterprise.

Photo caption (FIRST-2011-robot.jpg): Team 229’s robot, Derivative, with four logos and an “uber” tube scores at the FRC Championship event. The Clarkson University-sponsored team competed among 88 teams in the championship‘s Archimedes Division, where it placed 20th after nine rounds of qualifying matches and was selected to participate in the elimination round of divisional play where it was defeated in the semi-final round.

Photo caption (FIRST-2011-team.jpg): Team 229 members from Clarkson University (C), Massena Central School (M) and Salmon River Central School (S) in attendance at the FRC Championship event in St. Louis. Kneeling (left to right) in front: Chuck Raiti (S), Jason Avery (M); Standing row one: Brad View (C), Darcie Fregoe (M), Colin Cavanaugh (C), Mitchell White (S), John Redshaw (C), Alan Davis (M), Rani Almuti (C), Peter Reiniger (C), Meredith Emerson (C), Brianna Barley (M), Meranda Delosh (M), Renee Brown (M), Nolan Cooke (S), Jon Weitz (M), Jessica Beach (S), Steve Reitsma (C), Steve Robert (M); Standing back row: Connor McDonald (S), Kevin Brown (C), Chris Taylor (S), Ethan Fregoe (M), Kevin Pehush (S), Andrew Morrison (C), Morgan Chartier (S). Not present for photo: Libby Kamen (C).

Photo caption (FIRST-2011-CARD.jpg): Clarkson University team members participating in the inaugural FIRST Collegiate-level Aerial Robotics Demo (CARD) event (left to right): Colin Cavanaugh, Kevin Brown and Rani Almuti. Not present for photo: Peter Reiniger. The team took first place out of the ten institutions of higher education in the program.

[News directors and editors: For more information, contact Michael P. Griffin, director of News & Digital Content Services, at 315-268-6716 or mgriffin@clarkson.edu.]

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