On March 8th and 9th, 2013, the Valparaiso Independent Robot Team (VIRT) competed in the 26th Annual AMD Jerry Sanders Creative Design Competition (JSDC) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC). Sixteen Valpo College of Engineering students attended the competition where they participated with four robots that they designed and manufactured: Blue Bot, Blood Bot, Wheelzilla, and Sasquatch.
Continuing the success of previous years, Valpo robots placed 2nd, 3rd, and 4th in the competition, earning $2,500 in prize money.
This year's JSDC robot competition featured 28 robots from six schools: Valparaiso University, UIUC, the University of Illinois at Chicago, the Illinois Institute of Technology, Northern Illinois University, and the College of DuPage. The JSDC competition is attended by thousands of prospective engineering students in grades K-12.
During the first day of the JSDC robot competition, a round-robin format was used where four teams at a time competed on a 60' by 36' multi-level course. The ultimate goal of the Day One rounds was to score as many points as possible because the teams were seeded in the Day Two championship tournament based on total number of points.
To score points in this year's competition, teams collected soccer cones from around the course and placed them on scoring rods. Once the cones were placed on a scoring rod, the territory was considered powered, and each powered territory allowed for the accumulation of points. Robots were also required to power territories in a line (adjacent territories).
The robots needed to be fast and agile to score as many points as possible. However, the robots also needed to be robust in that they must battle the other robots in the match while trying to collect points. Some of the most exciting moments in the competition took place as the robots crashed into one another during the rounds.
When asked about competing in the Jerry Sanders Design Competition, VIRT President Scott Campbell says, "Participating in this competition is a lot of fun and it gives us
real-world experience in designing, manufacturing, troubleshooting, and
problem solving. Developing these skills can benefit anyone."
VIRT faculty advisor Professor Scott Duncan had this to say, "I'm so proud of our students. The VIRT team members show amazing engineering skills which is exemplified by the quality of the robots they produce. But more importantly, they represent Valpo at JSDC with class and great sportsmanship."
VIRT is open to all Valparaiso University students at all academic levels from freshmen to seniors.