Sunday, April 1, 2012
Dr. David Shaffer, Westminster associate professor of computer science, recently served as advisor to both Westminster College senior computer science major Timothy Matyas and a Mercer High School team in the construction and programming of firefighting robots. Dr. Shaffer accompanied both groups and their robots to the Trinity College Fire Fighting Home Robot Contest (TCFFHRC) from March 31 to April 1, 2012, in Hartford, CT.
TCFFHRC, the low-cost annual competition, one of the world's best known and long-lived international robot competitions, brought robot enthusiasts and engineers of all ages to Trinity's campus this year. More than 120 teams, including several from international countries of China, Israel and Indonesia, participated in one of the contest's divisions (Junior, Walking, High School, Senior, and Expert).
The TCFFHRC's main challenge is to build a fully autonomous robot that can navigate through a maze resembling the floor plan of a house, locate a burning candle and extinguish the flame in the shortest amount of time.
"YYZ," the robot designed and constructed by Westminster student Timothy Matyas, competed in the contest. According to Timothy, "Each robot at the competition was unique in its own way and reflected different approaches to solving the problems of navigation, flame detection, and flame extinguishing. It was a great opportunity to meet new people and share ideas."
Timothy added, "The project was a valuable learning experience for me. Having the opportunity to study amateur robotics and embedded systems has given me an insight that only a few in the field ever see. It also sparked my own interest in robotics, and I'm already planning on entering another robot into next year's competition."
"Snarglefitz," the robot constructed by the Mercer High School team, placed eleventh out of thirty other high school team robots from schools that competed. The team consisted of students Anna Garner, Adam Hoge, Benjamin Shaffer, and Rebecca Shaffer.
The projects were funded by an undergraduate research grant from Westminster's Drinko Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning and by Westminster's Department of Mathematics and Computer Science.