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Computer Science Major and Adviser Participated in Robot Competition

Posted on Thursday, April 26, 2012

Westminster College senior computer science major Timothy Matyas and Dr. David Shaffer, associate professor of computer science, participated in the Trinity College Fire-Fighting Home Robot contest March 31-April 1 in Hartford, Conn.

The annual competition drew more than 120 teams, including several from China, Israel, and Indonesia, to compete in one of five divisions: junior, walking, high school, senior, and expert.  The challenge was to build a fully autonomous robot to navigate a maze and locate and extinguish a burning candle in the shortest amount of time.

"Each robot was unique and reflected different approaches to solving the problems of navigation, flame detection, and flame extinguishing," Matyas said.  "It was a great opportunity to meet new people and share ideas."

"The project was a valuable learning experience for me," Matyas added.  "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 interest in robotics, and I'm already planning to enter another robot in next year's competition."

Click here to watch Matyas' robot in competition.

Matyas is a son of Timothy and Robin Matyas of Houston and a graduate of Chartiers-Houston High School.

Matyas' participation was supported by an undergraduate research grant and a travel/presentation grant from Westminster's Drinko Center for Experiential Learning and by Westminster's Department of Mathematics and Computer Science.

Also participating from this area was a team from Mercer Area High School, also advised by Shaffer.

Their robot, "Snarglefitz," placed 11th of 30 high school team robots.  Team members are Anna Garner, Adam Hoge, Benjamin Shaffer, and Rebecca Shaffer.

Click here to watch the Mercer High School team's robot.

Contact Shaffer at (724) 946-7292 or email for additional information. 

The Drinko Center for Experiential Learning was created to enrich undergraduate education at Westminster through advancing world-class teaching as well as by participating in collaborations that address community and regional needs including strengthening K-12 education.  The Undergraduate Research Initiative provides funding for students to conduct research and to present their research at regional and national conferences.  Visit the Drinko website for more information about the Drinko Center and its programs.

YYZ, Tim Matyas' robot
Snarglefitz, Mercer High School's robot
(L-r) Benjamin Shaffer, Rebecca Shaffer, Anna Garner, Adam Hoge, Tim Matyas