Robot Challenge

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The Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) would like teachers to consider the Robot Challenge, now in its 17th year of operation.
Why should your students do the Robot Challenge?
It is an excellent way for them to obtain the feel of what an Engineer does in his or her daily activities. Learning to build and coordinate the walking of a Robot provides a similar experience. With a lot of hands-on involvement and teamwork, the robot is created from pieces of wood, paper clips, bits of cloth, wire, motors and fasteners. Most materials are supplied in (inexpensive) kits, there is extensive documentation, and students provide the ingenuity and the effort. Then they match themselves with robots from other schools each April. Students learn a lot about themselves, and enjoy it. Its great as an in-school or after-school activity!
Why is the program significant?
If a student is considering taking Engineering at College, he needs to be confident that it will lead to something he (or she) really likes doing. It is just as important that students find out they would not like to do Engineering, as it is to find out that they really would like to do it. The Robot Challenge gives them the opportunity to try out a real Engineering project before making that commitment.
How does the Robot Challenge do that?
          An engineer wanting to work on a new idea frequently has to prepare a proposal to submit to upper management, in order to request time and funding. If approved, authorization is granted to form a team, build a prototype and demonstrate it. If that is successful, a presentation to explain its features will generally be made afterwards to upper management or even potential clients.
          This same process is followed with the Robot Challenge. The students prepare a Written Report that is all about the planning and building of the robot. They demonstrate the robot they built during the Performance Run, where they show its capability alongside those of their competitors. During the Oral Presentation, they talk about what they went through during the whole process and answer questions from the judges.
          The evaluation they receive is similar to what an engineer would receive from their management or potential clients.
Why is the Robot Challenge important for girls?
An increasing number of engineers are women. This project gives girls confidence  to use power tools and work with their hands. In many cases their workmanship is superior to that of boys. Both all-girl teams and mixed teams have been very successful in the past. 37% of our participants last year were girls.
What about students who do not propose to become engineers?
Our experience has shown that all students benefit from being personally
challenged. Interviews have indicated that every student has felt they have learned a great deal from the experience. Learning to work in and depend on a team is important in any career path.
What talent is required, how expensive is the project, and how much time does it take?
There are 4 levels of Challenge - the basic 2-leg robot, a 4-leg robot for those looking to do more work, an Automated 2-leg robot for those with some electronic talents, and the most challenging of all, the Automated 4-leg Robot. This year we are adding 2-leg and 4-leg pre-assembled Automation boards for those students who want to do programming and automation but don’t have the time to assemble their own boards.There is a Robot model suitable for whatever level you think your students are capable of, for grades 9 to 12. The 2-leg basic Challenge is the most popular.
These are not Lego kits, where you put together a bunch of parts that were expensive to fabricate! Almost everything is built by the students from scratch. While it requires more effort by the students, it keeps our costs and your costs down. A school’s first 2-leg robot kit is supplied at NO CHARGE, and if a team has been successful one year, we will give them an Automation kit the following year, also at NO CHARGE. One per school. A school requiring additional kits for their classrooms will need to cover our cost of producing the kits.
It takes about 7 weeks at 3 hours a week (a total of 21 hours) to build and learn to operate a 2-leg robot. About 30 hours for a 4-leg robot. An Automated 2-leg robot would take 3 to 4 months, and an Automated 4-leg robot 4 to 5 months. With the pre-assembled Automation estimate 2 to 3 months for 2-leg, and 3 to 4 months for 4-leg robots. Times vary by team size (2 to 8) and talent, but if the dedication is there, no team need be concerned about failing. Mentors are available to help!
Call 410-653-4176 or e-mail for more information.

Updated: 1/17/23

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