August 26, 2011

Engineering Design Competition @ MIT

Some Background

Engineering Design at the Minority Introduction to Engineering & Science (MITES), hosted at MIT, teaches students a creative design process. Students learn to identify problems and create, develop, and select the best strategies using fundamental principles, appropriate analysis, and experimentation. The class is based off of MIT's 2.007 competition, which is normally taken over a semester by sophomores majoring in mechanical engineering. We were challenged to achieve the same goal in five weeks time.

An Overview

For the 2011 Engineering Design Competition, taught by Marc Graham and Aaron Ramirez and assisted by Amanda Valentin and A.J Perez, we were tasked with recreating three infamous MIT hacks:

After being strategically placed in teams of four, each team was a given box of materials  and asked to create one or more robots or machines capable of completing as many of the hacks as they could. There were six teams that competed in this years competition, and each team brought together their diverse set of skills, and amazing creativity to come up with some very interesting robots.

Meet The Teams

Team Bazinga
Janelle Wellons, Ahmed Eltahir, Rachel Reed, Johnathan Root

For our strategy we decided to go with a two robot game plan, a larger robot to lift the cop car onto the roof of Building 10 and a smaller one to drop the super balls and then pick up the cop car after it was placed on the roof and place it on the roof of the Great Dome. To accomplish this we used a winch to pull a forklift up the front of the robot to lift the cop car on both robots. To drop the balls we attached a box without a base to the undercarriage of the small robot and placed the balls in that. When the robot would back up over the edge of the roof it would cause the balls to fall out and into Killian court.

The Catalysts
Eric Smalls, Grace Dhanraj, Marissa Ruiz, and, of course, Juan Jaramillo from Humble, Texas

For our strategy we wanted something that would be repeatable. We decided that dropping Super-balls into Killian court would be the most reliable strategy. For our design we focused on the Keep it Simple Stupid (KISS) design strategy. We designed a simple differential drive robot with two drive wheels and a caster for stability  Moreover, to get on the roof, we built a stand-off, the height of the roof to allow the robot to start-off already on the roof so all the robot needed to do was proceed to Building 10 to drop the super-balls into Killian Court.

Nicco Gomez, Ambar Mena, Forest Sears, Taiyke Wright-Brown

The Unicorns of Death
Katelyn Flowers, Guillermo Bautista, Fernando Juarez, Tracy Sorto
Kyle Coleman, Silvia Vasquez, Christian Infante, Kelli Padilla
The Machinatores
Jessica Lam, David Boone, Rosa Manzo, Hal T. Hamilton Jr.

The Result

After many intense rounds of competition, there were two teams left fighting for 1st place: Team WALL-E and The Catalysts. The battle between these two was so close that the game came down to weight, with The Catalysts coming out on top. Despite who won and lost, we all took something away from this experience. Whether it was learning to solder or learning to work in a team, ultimately, we all grew in some way or another, and that's something we can all be proud of!