Mount Union Raider Robotics Team Takes Off
January 22, 2015
BY ABIGAIL ESPOSITO
ALLIANCE, Ohio – Constructing robots and fostering collaboration, Raider Robotics generates the University of Mount Union students’ strengths within and beyond the engineering department. As a new student club, Raider Robotics is working to design and build robots to compete in the VEX Robotics Competition.
“There is something really cool about seeing something come together from nothing,” said Hailey Hoyat, Raider Robotics founder and leader. “It’s a great learning experience for all of the students and it fosters everyone’s talents.”
A freshman mechanical engineering major of Cleveland, Ohio, Hoyat initiated the club when she was first accepted to the University of Mount Union. She contacted a faculty member in the engineering department and suggested creating a robotics team on campus. This ignited an enthusiasm throughout the department.
“The faculty at Mount Union has been wonderful through the whole registration and creation process,” Hoyat said. “Everyone has been completely supportive of it all.”
The team currently has five students spanning several different majors and two advisors: Dr. Helen Muga, assistant professor of civil engineering and Gerald Hoover, engineering lab technician. Student team members include Hoyat, freshman Peter Young of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; freshman mechanical engineering major Jacob Michaud-Dorko of Centerville, Ohio; freshman mechanical engineering major Cameron Senhauser of Powell, Ohio and senior Japanese and mathematics major Terry Long of Amherst, Ohio.
Raider Robotics requires a plethora of talents and skills. From designing to fabricating and from programming to communication dynamics, students gain valuable academic and life expertise outside of the engineering lab.
“We are in a constantly changing world that requires engineers, scientists, political scientists and practitioners in industry to work together, and what better way for our students to do this then through something like robotics?” Muga said. “Learning inside and outside of the classroom is important for students.”
On February 14, the Raider Robotics team will compete in its first VEX Robotics Competition at Purdue University. During this all-day event, students will present their two robots in the engineering challenges in the form of a game against 14 other teams.
This year’s VEX game is Skyrise, which involves robots stacking colored cubes to build a tower in a 12 foot by 12 foot square arena with a limited time. There are two parts to the game: autonomous is the pre-programmed robot which performs the challenge and teleop puts the driver-controlled robot to the test. The opposing team is situated at the other end of the field. The goal is to score more points than the other team. If the team reaches the elimination round, students must work with another team and use all the robots to play the game.
“This establishes collaboration,” Hoyat said. “It forces you to have teamwork with others you are not familiar with."
The team will be using skills learned from various engineering and programming classes. Students will use 3D models and fabrication techniques as well as communication deftness through interviews to receive sponsorships and funding.
Assembling the robots requires two superkits which contain various robot parts and programming licenses. Alliance engineering company SES provided the team with its first grant to purchase a superkit.
“We are very appreciative to SES for its contribution,” Hoyat said. “We are hoping to get more grants for the second superkit.”
Additionally, Hoyat and the engineering department are eager about the future of Raider Robotics by looking into the STEM outreach program to enhance the team and increase possible scholarship opportunities.