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robotics@rose-hulman.edu

Students Explore Interests in Robotics through Certificate Program & Competitions

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Putting Robot Through Paces: Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology students Keqiong Xin and Colin Shipley watch patiently as their robot completes the task during this spring's the "Simpson's Hide and Seek Adventure" competition.

Robotics has grown into a $20 billion global industry, with the International Federation of Robotics reporting that the world robot population has nearly doubled in the last four years. Robots recently helped a police bomb squad disarm a car bomb in New York City's Times Square and are assisting engineers in solving the Gulf of Mexico oil leak.

"The competition proved to be quite challenging for the students, but there were some clear winners," Berry stated.Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology students are meeting the increasing need for graduates familiar with robotics through a multidisciplinary robotics certificate program that blends mechanics, electronics, controls and software.
 
"The robotics industry has been compared to the personal computer industry in the 1970's. It is exploding! Our robotics certificate program is at the right place and right time," says Carlotta Berry, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, and one of three certificate program faculty advisors.
 
Rose-Hulman's robotics program features mobile robotics and mechatronics. Students taking a mobile robotics course showcased their robotics programming mastery this spring in the "Simpson's Hide and Seek Adventure" competition. It was an extension of last year's "Simpson's Seeking Spectacular" competition because it also included localization as well as path planning. 

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Winning Edge: Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology students Steven Riddle and Samantha Danesis make sure their robot stays on course during the spring quarter's mobile robotics course's final competition. The team, which also included Julius Kasniunas, earned first place honors.

This year's competition was more difficult, according to Berry, because the robot was placed in the world at an unknown position and had to use a Markov decision process to determine its location by identifying gateways in the world, such as corners, hallways and dead ends. Once the robot was able to reliability identify its place in the world, it was then required to quickly drive home without hitting obstacles. 

Trouncing the competition and earning first place honors was Team Maggie, which included 2010 mechanical engineering graduate Steven Riddle, 2010 computer engineering graduate Samantha Danesis and 2010 electrical engineering graduate Julius Kasniunas. Coming in second was Team Flanders, developed by 2010 mechanical engineering graduate Colin Shipley and graduate student Keqiong Xin. 
 
Berry noted that next year's competition will prove to be even more exciting as students will be asked to integrate map making of the maze world.
Students with knowledge in robotics will help Indiana take advantage of big opportunities in this technology sector, according to Jim Jay, president and chief executive officer of the state's technology initiative, Techpoint.
Rose-Hulman alumnus Jason Zielke is president and chief operating officer of Indianapolis-based Precise Path, which has designed robots that will mow golf course greens.

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Learning About Robotics: Students show off their projects in the final competition of a mobile robotics course this spring at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology.  In the front row (from left) are Juergen Kunzmann, Colin Shipley, Jon Krotz, Julius Kasniunas and Grant Walthall.  In the back row (from left) Professor Deborah Walter, Jian Li, Keqiong Xin, Professor Carlotta Berry, Joe Downey, Steven Riddle, Samantha Danesis and Jon Papp.  Missing are Richard Stoner and Bob Stiefel.

While Rose-Hulman doesn't offer a major in robotics, students majoring in mechanical, electrical, computer or software engineering, and computer science gain knowledge in their academic areas. The students then choose one of seven tracks to gain experience in another robotics field. Finally, the students work on a multidisciplinary senior project, with students from the other majors. Tracks currently available include: computer science and software engineering with controls, computer science and software engineering with hardware, computer science and software engineering with mechanics, computer engineering, electrical engineering with programming, electrical and computer engineering with sensors, electrical engineering with mechanics, mechanical engineering with electronics, and mechanical engineering with programming.