The Valparaiso Independent Robot Team (VIRT) competed in the 25th Annual Jerry Sanders Creative Design Competition at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign on March 10 and 11. Fourteen Valparaiso University 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 at the competition, 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 universities and was attended by thousands of prospective engineering students.

During the first day of the JSDC robot competition, a round-robin format was used where teams competed on a 60-foot by 36-foot multi-level course. The ultimate goal of the first round was to score as many points as possible because the teams were seeded in the championship tournament based on total number of points.

Points could be accumulated in a variety of ways by using the robot’s “skill” to complete a variety of actions such as triggering the firing of a cannon, rotating a twist mechanism, and opening a trap door.

“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,” said first-year mechanical engineering student Ryan Hall.

“What I really like about the competition is the fun,” said VIRT president and senior electrical engineering student Vinnie Killion. “We go out there and do the tasks, sometimes battle the robots, but everyone just has fun.”

VIRT is open to all Valparaiso University students at all academic levels from freshmen to seniors.

“I’m so proud of our students,” said VIRT faculty advisor and engineering professor Scott Duncan. “The VIRT team members show amazing engineering skills, which is exemplified by the quality of the robots they produce.”

About Valparaiso University

Valparaiso University is a comprehensive independent Lutheran university with more than 4,000 students on its campus located in Northwest Indiana, an hour from Chicago. Valpo is a community of purpose-driven, service-minded and ethical individuals who embrace the pursuit of truth with freedom, humility and compassion. Valpo has been identified as one of the top master’s-level institutions in the Midwest by U.S. News & World Report magazine for the past 22 years. Valparaiso University offers 110 undergraduate academic programs through the colleges of Arts and Sciences, Business Administration, Engineering and Nursing. Valpo also has a distinguished honors college, a School of Law and more than 40 degree and certificate programs in its Graduate School and Continuing Education Division. Valpo has been recognized for its commitment to outstanding teaching, preparing thoughtful leaders with strong cross-cultural skills and global awareness, and dedication to serving others.

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