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Robot Wrestling at the U

April 19, 2005 — Robots will engage in sumo wrestling, toy cougars will be catapulted through the air, eggs will survive or splatter during “Egglympic” events and students will present design projects on Friday, April 22 during the University of Utah’s eighth annual Department of Mechanical Engineering Design Day.

The events are scheduled for various times between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. in the university’s Olpin Union Building Ballroom and surrounding rooms. News media and the public are invited.

  • 9:30 to 11 a.m., Trebuchet Competition in the Center Ballroom. Junior high school students will build trebuchets, which are like catapults except they are powered by a counterweight rather than by a release of tension. As in past years, the trebuchets will be used to hurl toy cougars, the mascot of the University of Utah’s rival, Brigham Young University. Teams will compete based on who can fling the cougars the farthest and most accurately.
  • 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., World Egglympics in the East Ballroom. First-year mechanical engineering students were allowed to spend no more than $15 to design and build contraptions to carry raw eggs in events such as the EggSprint, EggPut and EggVault. Each device represents one of the world’s nations. The Egglympics can get messy. In a similar, previous competition, ceiling tiles had to be replaced due to splattered eggs. Members of the winning team get to skip the final exam in their design and visualization course.
  • 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Sumo Wrestling Robots Competition, Saltair Room. Teams of third-year mechanical engineering students have built autonomous robots which walk, unlike the robots on wheels used in a previous robot sumo wrestling event. To win a bout, a robot has 75 seconds to tip its opponent, shove the opponent out of the ring or grab the spot in the center of the ring. Members of the winning team do not have to take the final exam in their mechatronics course. Poster presentations about the robots will be displayed from 9 a.m. to noon in the Saltair Room. (Note to television news media: The robots’ infrared sensors have been redesigned this year to minimize the possibility TV cameras will interfere with operation of the robots – a problem during past events. There also will be a designated, taped-off space for camera crews.)
  • 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Senior Design Projects. Fourth-year mechanical engineering students will display their design projects with poster presentations and hands-on demonstrations in the Ballroom corridor. They also will deliver oral presentations in the Collegiate Room. A schedule of presentations will be posted outside the Collegiate Room. This year’s senior design projects include a compact supercharger to increase engine efficiency; a DNA analysis device designed to detect meningitis-causing organisms in human cerebrospinal fluid; a Formula I type racecar built to compete in a national competition; a new style of jib-focused ski; a weatherproof, two-story portable medical clinic for remote, poverty stricken areas; a micro air vehicle that uses small flapping wings for lift and thrust; a micro radio-controlled plane carrying a camera that transmits live video to a control station; a mini-Baja single-person dune buggy; a simplified mechanical tool to implant neural recording arrays that help researchers determine how the brain functions and someday may allow paraplegics to regain control of their limbs; a remote aerial survey vehicle for use by biologists who want to take low-altitude, high-resolution pictures of wildlife in remote areas; a solar-powered race car; a virtual reality kayak to provide an authentic kayaking experience at home for instruction and exercise; and a system to offer a more efficient means of propelling and braking a manual wheelchair.
  • 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Microfabrication displays, West Ballroom. Mechanical engineering seniors and graduate students in a microfabrication class will display posters about their miniature projects. The 32 projects include devices to cool computer chips and improve medicine delivery.