On March 9th and 10th, the Valparaiso Independent Robot Team (VIRT) competed in the 25th Annual AMD Jerry Sanders Creative Design Competition (JSDC) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC). Fourteen Valpo College of Engineering students attended the competition where they participated with three robots that they designed and manufactured: Blue Bot, Blood Bot, and Wheelzilla.
Continuing the success of previous years, all three VIRT robots advanced to the semifinal round of eight, and Valpo's Blue Bot led in total points scored at the end of Day One.
This year's JSDC robot competition featured 20 robots from four schools: Valparaiso University, UIUC, the University of Illinois at Chicago, and the Illinois Institute of Technology. The JSDC competition is attended by thousands of prospective engineering students.
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.
Points could be accumulated in a variety of ways. During each round, each team was assigned a color and an associated bin. A variety of colored balls were spread throughout the course and points were scored by collecting the balls and placing them in the team's bin. A variety of actions such as triggering the firing of a cannon, rotating a twist mechanism, and opening a trap door allowed teams to score additional points. Finally, a large amount of points were scored by driving up to a turnstile to be the last robot standing (“King of the Hill”) when the match’s time ran out.
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.
Asked of his impression of the competition, first-year mechanical engineering student Ryan Hall said, "This is my first time at JSDC and it has been amazing. The competition is fantastic and it is a great way to spend the weekend."
VIRT President and Senior Electrical Engineering student Vinnie Killion added, "What I really like about the competition is the fun. We go out there and do the tasks, sometimes battle the robots, but everyone just has fun."
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.