Four teams of Fairmont State University students have been busy for months designing, building and programming their final projects' working robots.
The eight students are seniors majoring in Electronics Engineering Technology in the College of Science and Technology. Kim Murphy, Associate Professor of Safety/Environmental Engineering Technology, supervises the senior capstone course.
"It really takes all their knowledge of electronics, mechanics, computer programming," Murphy told The Times West Virginian during a recent interview. "It's quite a challenge."
Project ideas must be approved by a faculty committee before the design phase can begin. The process of building the robots takes more than one semester. Some of the students said they spent as much as 30 hours a week on their projects for months. At the end of the capstone course, they present their projects and are graded on their work.
Chris Nichols and Steve Bowers created the B and N Fire Extinguisher for their project. Their robot, which could aid firefighters, can travel through a maze while checking for a flame. It can detect whether a flame is present and then travel to the flame and extinguish it.
Derek Gilmore and Jonathan Cable built the "Lazy Drinker" Automatic Beverage Dispenser, a machine capable of dispensing preprogrammed amounts of liquid into a cup. The user can program in codes as recipes for certain drinks made from different amounts of liquid and the machine will "mix" the drinks.
Brandon Sickles and Dustin Baker developed the D & B Maze Mapping Robot, which is designed to navigate mazes and communicate with another robot that draws a maze on a computer using Microsoft Paint. The robot that travels through the mazes navigates using infrared and communicates using radio frequencies that are in turn being received by the other robot. The information being received is then deciphered by the robot and it knows which way to draw the path on the computer screen.
"It could explore places that humans couldn't go, like a building that's unstable," Baker told the Times West Virginian.
Kevin Leyh and Chris Campbell built the Power Train Tester for Remotely Operated Vehicles. The goal of the project was to acquire performance data associated with running a remote control car at different speeds and mechanical loads simulating real world driving, but in a controlled and monitored state. This information could help RC hobbyists who race or robotic engineers test their vehicles performance before actually hitting the real road.
The robots the students created all have "real-world" applications and could possibly lead to a patent if the students choose to pursue that avenue.