On April 2, Florida Tech students claimed victory as the last robot standing at the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers South East Conference in Norfolk, Virginia.
45 Southern universities showcased their innovative problem-solving skills using current technologies with the hope of being labeled the best technology institute in the southern region. Florida Tech took first place in the robotics competition; they also won the exemplary student branch award.
According to IEEE President Briana Cantos, this is the first time Florida Tech has the won the competition.
The competition’s challenge was to build an autonomous robot that can traverse a field containing obstacles resembling a shipping harbor to pick up blocks of different types from drop-off points and deliver them to a destination. The final round was performed during the awards banquet with all attendees and distinguished guest speakers watching via a live broadcast as the robots from the final four teams performed simultaneously in a riveting winner-takes-all challenge.
The annual IEEE SECON is fundamental to the student branch’s presence on campus. It facilitates an atmosphere where students can represent their schools to showcase their ethical judgment, software, hardware and t-shirt printing skills at a regional scale.
Throughout the building process, the initial technical team of about 25 students dwindled and road bumps slowed their work. Attendance decreased as members could not make meetings and structure difficulties arose, leaving the team with a significant lack of technical skills. A test to their strength, the team found the space and time necessary to finish their robot and improved the consistency of the robot’s navigation algorithm, which ultimately helped them to victory.
“It felt like the stars aligned when they announced that Florida Tech won first place in the IEEE SoutheastCon Hardware competition,” Cantos said. “But, I thank God for letting me lead and be apart of a team that taught me to believe in the impossible.”
The Florida Tech students who won the competition are Briana Cantos, Christopher Woodle, Mmusi Motsumi, James Kearney, Ronald-Dean Allado, Tyler Korte, Nicholas Persing, and Michael Stratton.