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UNLV Students Assemble Top Bots on West Coast
This story was written by undergraduate English student Jocelyn Silva.
A year ago, Rebel Robotics, plagued by a shortage of team members and time, finished third in the American Society of Mechanical Engineers E-Fest West Student Conference.
The team was as determined to shore up those flaws as they were to build a championship robot heading into this year’s competition. Despite component failures during competition that stopped Rebel Robotics from fielding a full complement of bots, the team took first overall in the conference.
“The competitions tend to be stressful events, but the most important thing about building robots is not the robots, it’s the people involved,” team leader and mechanical engineering student Patrick Messimer said.
Every year the AMSE sets unique challenges for its competitions. This year’s challenge was FIFA World Cup-themed: Robot Football. Students were asked to create a team of robots to compete in a four-way challenge amongst other opponents.
“We had two main goals,” said Patrick Messimer, a mechanical engineering major who led the team. “Stop procrastinating, and get twice as many people to participate in the competition.”
The ASME student chapter increased the team from three to nine members, starting in the fall semester to design mock-ups of specific mechanisms. They settled on one defender and two scoring robots capable of kicking, pulling, and throwing. Over winter break they built fully functioning prototypes, and finalized designs in the spring.
It wasn’t smooth sailing in Pomona, California, when Rebel Robotics took on 12 teams across the West Coast and two from Saudi Arabia. A broken radio transmitter left them with only one bot on offense, and one on defense. But the setbacks didn’t slow the team — they took first place with ease.
Their next competition will be at ASME’s International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition, the largest interdisciplinary mechanical engineering conference in the world. The team will compete against the first- and second-place winners of E-Fest East, Asia Pacific, and South America.
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