Students place first at international engineering competition

A team photo.
Image Credit: Courtesy of Corey Moura

Students who designed and built a robot for an engineering class last year won an international award for their project. 

Engineering students Corey Moura, Jesse Holdwerda and Joseph Lentine won first prize at the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers' Industry Applications Society Student Robotics Demonstration Contest. The competition challenges students to demonstrate problem solving through robotics. 

Students from the top four entries were invited to present their projects September 23-27 in Portland, Oregon. Finalists included teams from the University of New Mexico, Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology, and the University of Moratuwa (Sri Lanka). 

The Grand Valley team's robot was created for EGR 107, an introductory engineering design course. Students were tasked with creating a robot from scratch that could navigate itself through obstacles, without human assistance, in a game called Robo-Sockey, a mix between soccer and hockey. Using a 6-foot-by-6-foot arena, teams have three minutes to compete with each other to deliver the most amount of balls into a goal. 

The EGR 107 course was led by affiliate faculty members Scott Zuidema and Ted Kocharian. Zuidema encouraged the team to enter its well-made robot into the IEEE contest. 

Moura, a computer engineering major from Traverse City, presented to a panel of judges in Portland and accepted the $800 prize on behalf of the team. 

"It's pretty gratifying to see a class assignment go on to win an international award," he said. 

Moura said the Grand Valley robot was among strong competition. "There was a box sorting robot from Bangladesh and a flying robot from Sri Lanka," he said.