This Spring Break, Valpo Robotics traveled to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to participate in the 2018 Midwestern Robotics Design Competition (MRDC). The 14-member student team continued to showcase their excellence in competition, finishing second and third and taking home the Most Innovative Design Award.

“Valpo Robotics gives everyone involved the chance to do real-world design work that tests our creative problem-solving skills in a fun way,” says Michael Donovan ’20, mechanical engineering major and vice president of Valpo Robotics. “Through competition, we are given concrete answers as to whether we solved a problem well or if another solution may have been better. I really enjoyed the competition this year. We did a great job.”

This year, more than 20 robotics teams from across the Midwest were brought together in a rivalry that tested their skills and creativity. Valpo Robotics brought two teams to the floor, with challengers from Southern Illinois University, College of Dupage, Illinois Institute of Technology, University of Illinois at Chicago, and Northwestern University, to name a few.

Robotics battled the competition with Ernie, the team veteran, who placed third for the past two consecutive years, and Marvin, the new kid on the block. Ernie and Marvin both beat out their competitors to land in the final round of competition. Pitted against each other and two other opponents, Marvin finished third in his inaugural competition, and Ernie secured his first-ever second-place finish.

Perhaps the biggest surprise of the competition, Marvin demolished the competition in the rope pulley event as the only successful contestant to score with the foam balls. He also claimed the Most Innovative Design Award for creatively solving one of the game’s tasks. It was Marvin’s ability to tilt back to score using the foam balls that secured this top honor.

“One of the best moments of the competition was when Marvin first started to tip backward to go in for the score,” Michael says. “Everyone thought we had tipped our robot and gasped when they saw the reality. No one saw that idea coming, which was such a gratifying experience.”

Both Ernie and Marvin were designed, built, and operated by Vaeflected in their continued success

“Valpo Robotics is successful because we keep it simple,” says Ryan Taylor ’18, mechanical engineering major and co-president of Valpo Robotics. “We stay on track and are always looking for the most effective solution.”