Engineering students capture top spot

Members of the UALR Engineering Design Team outperformed 17 other teams in a competition that tested their speed and skills in remote robotic design, earning a first place designation from the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME).

The competition, held in conjunction with the ASME’s Student Professional Development Conference/Early Career Technical Conference, was judged in Tulsa, Okla., on April 5-7.

Several members of the team – Josh Pittman, Henry Meyer, Jason Brandford, Stephen Fitch, Clint Maddox, and Josh Faulkner – competed against teams from Louisiana Tech University, Texas Tech, Oklahoma State University, University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, University of Calgary, University of Oklahoma, and University of Wyoming, among others.

Pittman, driver of the remote-controlled robot, joined Meyer, the navigator, to complete the tasks using visual systems designed by the team. Thomas Epperson and Christopher Elkins programmed the robot. Gaudencio Arce and Clay White, also part of the design team, could not attend the conference.

The first place award earns the UALR design team a spot at the national competition during ASME’s 2013 International Mechanical Engineering Congress & Exposition, the premier conference of engineers, scientists and technologists seeking the advancement of engineering excellence worldwide.

It will be held in San Diego in November.

The students were challenged to design and build a remote controlled robot and complete a series of five tasks in no more than five minutes. Remarkably, the UALR team completed all five tasks in about 47 seconds.

“The key to our students’ success was that they designed the robot based on the KISS methodology (Keep It Simple and Smart),” said Dr. Srikanth B. Pidugu, associate professor of mechanical engineering technology.

“Of the five, they made the task of picking a sensor and dropping it at a designated location failproof. It was a critical task where most teams either took too much time or entirely failed.”

Pidugu said the second and third place teams took about 50 and 95 seconds, respectively, to complete all five tasks and most teams took more than three minutes.

UALR students competed in two other categories as well, a poster competition and graduate student presentation competition.

Anthony Keener competed in the poster competition, while Mehmet Ozturk presented a paper in graduate student paper category. Working with their adviser, Dr. Abhijit Bhattacharyya, they presented their research in the area of shape memory alloys.

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