Monash Engineering Robot Building Competition 2016

Robot camp

Throughout August, the Engineering Faculty was a hive of activity as first and second year engineering students formed teams in preparation for the annual robot building competition.

The competition, organised by the Society of Monash Electrical Engineers in collaboration with a number of other student societies, gives students a unique opportunity to put what they have learnt during their studies to use in a practical setting.

Prior to the competition, a number of tutorials were run which helped the competitors to develop skills with Arduino (open-source electronics platform) and 3D printing, both of which are essential for this challenge. Additionally, Jonathan Oxer from Freetronics gave a presentation to the students, providing insight into real world projects in the electronics industry.

More than 150 competitors and volunteers descended on the Monash University electrical engineering labs for the competition, where they began constructing and coding their robots. Working in teams of 4-6, their challenge was to build a robot which would follow a white line, stop at a number of randomly  ordered coloured gates along the path, sense the colour of the gate and then transmit the corresponding code to open the gate. After passing through all of the gates the robot had to stop on a line of the same colour as the final gate.

For first year engineering students who had never done anything like this before it was quite a challenging task!

At the end of the first day not a single team had come close to completing the challenge. However, with time quickly passing on the second day and the competition heats edging ever closer, teams slowly started testing and refining their designs. There were a number of substantial challenges that teams  faced along the way including trying to calibrate colour sensors despite the ever changing ambient light! As 1pm arrived with teams still frantically performing final modifications, it was time for the competition to begin.

After many test runs, disappointing failures and spectacular successes there were only a handful of teams vying for first place. A grand final separated the few remaining teams, and the winners went home with plenty of prizes from event sponsors 3D Printing Systems , eProcess Technologies and Freetronics .

Thanks to the Society of Monash Electrical Engineers for organising such a fantastic event. It was awesome to see so many enthusiastic and passionate students developing their skills and having heaps of fun along the way. Bring on the Robot Building Competition  2017!