A new generation of the TCNJ robotics team is busy at work in 166 Armstrong Hall. The team, which is tasked with creating and competing robots in national and international competitions, provides a hands-on and educational outlet for the students in the department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. This year club president Yillan Yang and secretary Dan Ponzini, both ECE majors, have already begun the long process of designing and constructing the club’s robot. As a relatively new club, the team’s goal for this year is to establish a presence at two competitions: Trinity College’s Firefighting Contest in Connecticut and Shepard College’s ShepRobo Fest in West Virginia.
The club will compete in a firefighting competition, which means their robot will be judged on it’s ability to navigate a maze to locate and then put out a flame. Last year, the team traveled to these competitions for research. By observing the models of other teams, they were able to formulate how they would program their robot to solve the task this year. Among other attributes, their project involves the use of a small electric fan that will blow out the flame. To create the robot the team combines two methods, digital design and physical assembly. For example, some of the materials used will be digitally created and then printed out by 3D printers. In addition to this, other materials such as wheels and platforms are manually created and assembled.
This year the club has grown substantially, not only in ECE majors but in students who study all subjects. Both Yillan and Dan understand the impact that the team can have on an educational level. Along with critical thinking, technical knowledge, and teamwork, Dan states, “the club gives students the chance to say that they’re working on a design project”. This experiences is incredibly valuable to the education of a engineering student. In the coming months, the club is sure to impress the school with the accomplishment of a complete robot.