Students race robots

By By Daniel Callister

By Daniel Callister

A showcase of robotic creatures, cutting-edge technology and student imagination filled the Union Ballroom on Thursday as professors and students kicked off the 11th Annual Mechanical Engineering Design Day.

Among the different events that took place were battle robot chariot racing, a robot relay course with eggs and a trebuchet toss where a stuffed-animal version of Cosmo, Brigham Young University’s mascot cougar, got launched.

The Sp’egg’tacular Robot egg relay race pitted students enrolled in a mechanical engineering class against each other as their robots negotiated a mid-air relay course. The robot designs ranged from walking conveyor belts to rolling catapults, making each relay run different from the next. The event was also timed, which forced students to design robots that were quick enough to beat the clock.

“We pulled an all-nighter adding the finishing touches,” said Landon Gwilliam, a freshman in mechanical engineering and member of Team Teknik said.

Gwilliam’s teammate Ryan Thomas, a mechanical engineering major, said the team was only given the dimensions of the obstacle course to work with when they were designing their robots.

“So we used a lot of trial and error before we got the design right,” Thomas said.

Another team, Shell On Wheels, had flame decals on their unique “walking” robot.

“We spent about 80 hours building them,” said Jennifer Angell, a freshman in mechanical engineering. “We worked as a team for about five consecutive weekends working out some of the design challenges we discovered trying to build them.”

Angell’s team was the only team to attempt a design that allowed the robot to walk on two legs.

Students in the competition not only compete against their school mates but also against competitors from around the world. One team designed, built and raced a moon buggy at the NASA center in Huntsville, Ala.

“It was our second year participating,” said Chris Isbell, a senior in mechanical engineering. “We started with some of last year’s ideas and improved the design and materials.”

The moon buggy was the culmination of two semesters of design and manufacturing and resulted in the U’s team placing 5th place overall.

“It feels really good to be able to present all our hard work,” said Josh Falsev, a senior in mechanical engineering. “This program has really worn us out.”

Falev’s team designed an exoskeleton to relieve lower back strain while bending and lifting.

“Creativity, teamwork, leadership and communication can’t be taught through lectures — they can only be learned through experience,” said Kent Udell, a professor and chair of mechanical engineering.

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Anna Kartashova

Gareth Whatcott, a sophomore in mechanical engineering, cheers for his vehicle in “A Sp’EGG’tacular Relay,” an egg transporter competition at the Mechanical Engineering Fair in Union Ballroom on Thursday.