Robotics Club (SME)

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Society of Mechanical Engineers

Student works with robotic arm.

MTSU's Department of Engineering Technology recently added a national championship in robotics to its mantle of achievements.

Known for its Moonbuggies, concrete industry program, Formula 1 car and solar bikes, ET had a student team capture first place in the 2004 International Conference on Earth and Space March 7-10 in Houston.

MTSU defeated the other two finalists, the University of Illinois and Prairie View A & M, for the championship.

"They perfected the robotics system to the extent that NASA may change the requirements next time,"said Dr. Ahad Nasab, professor, ET. "They have been waiting for a group to take it to a higher level. NASA will add something to the competition (requirements) next year and make it more challenging."

Five students - seniors Aaron Dudley and Amy Black and sophomore Seth Holland of Murfreesboro, senior James Barker of Elizabethton and alumnus Travis Martin of Murfreesboro - were recognized April 2 in the Voorhies Industrial Studies building for their roles in leading the team to the national crown.

Barker, who is an aerospace major, was the lone non-ET major on the team.

"We gained so much knowledge," he said. "It was a challenge, working through the problem solving. We accomplished our goal."

It was a whole lot harder than I expected," Dudley, the team captain, said. "The competition was great. We found out we had a lot more creativity than we thought we had."

Black said the group's greatest accomplishment may not have been the Flouor Daniel Perpetual Trophy for Collegiate Competition in Extraterrestrial Robotics that it brought back to Murfreesboro.

"We learned the value of teamwork," Black said. "There were a lot of different opinions. ... We figured out how to accomplish it. At the competition, we had all kinds of serious problems the first day. We only had four hours to fix it. We were without a machine shop. We were in a hotel."

Martin, who is married and the father of two children, completed the original design in March 2002.

"They (current students) just modified it and made improvements to the electronics and air system. Technology today is just booming."

Nasab said the event, which is co-sponsored by NASA and the Earth and Science conference, is designed to mimic conditions NASA might encounter while trying to create a long-term presence on the moon.

The MTSU students built a second, smaller robot with a camera to aid the steering and driving of the larger robot, and this element led to them finishing first, Nasab said.

2017:  1st place Mini-Sumo Robot (Gold Award), 3rd place Mini-Sumo Robot (Bronze Award), 3rd place Combat Robot (Bronze Award)

2018:  1st place Mini-Sumo Robot (Gold Award), 2nd place Mini-Sumo Robot (Silver Award), 2nd place Combat Robot, Mantisweight (Silver Award), 3rd place Combat Robot, Mantisweight (Bronze Award), 3rd place Autonomous Vehicle Challenge (Bronze Award)