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This Post is an extract from the Jamaica Observer, Career and Education interview with the UTech Robotics Team done by staff reporter Denise Dennis. The article was published on Sunday March 11, 2012; CLICK HERE for the full interview. No Copyright infringement intended.
FIFTEEN University of Technology (UTech) students will journey to Florida on March 15, 2012 to take part, as the only non-American Nation, in the Institute of Electronic and Electrical Engineers (IEEE) South Eastern Conference. There they will participate in six competitions that are a feature of the conference — a hardware [robotics] competition, a software competition, a technical paper competition, a website competition, ethics paper, and a t-shirt design competition.
|UTech Student representatives for IEEE 2012 Competitions in Orlando Florida USA|
They are especially enthusiastic about the robotics competition, preparations for which have proven time- and resource-consuming since they began work on the creation of a robot — in line with specifications given to them by conference organizers — last August. The invention is an information-gathering machine capable of detecting voltage, electrical wave form, capacitance and temperature, as well as being able to wirelessly traverse a confined area.
“The robot is autonomous. That means it’s programmed to complete these tasks without the assistance of any type of controls,” said Farley Artwell, a third-year electrical engineering student who specializes in electronics and communication. He, like the other team members who will participate in the robotics competition, is confident they can win. Only last year, they competed against 40 other teams and placed in the top 20 — despite problems with the device when they arrived at the conference.
|Members of UTech Robotics Team|
“The team synergy has developed a lot [since then and now] we are working overnight, programming the robot [and] coexisting in a manner that we can see the robot completing its task. So we are expecting a lot from this competition and expecting to push all the way,” Artwell told Career & Education.
Even though their preparations began last August, the imported parts for the machine only arrived in January and at a cost of $410,000 to the university. Since then, they have been all business.
“Over this three-month period, every day — Sundays and Saturdays included — we would be in the lab, programming, getting circuits together, the whole works, just to see this robot come alive and the different aspects being put together accordingly,” said team leader Kimroy Bailey, who specializes in instrumentation and controls. However, to get to the competition, which will run from March 15 to 18 in Orlando, the team requires sponsorship. The $410,000 investment from the university aside, the cost to make the trip is projected at $45,000 per student.
“At this last stage where everything has come together so nicely, we are really encouraging sponsors to come on board and be a part of this,” said Dave Muir, lecturer in the electrical engineering programme at UTech, who is expected to accompany the students.
“A lot of this technology that we are using now can be used in real life, in terms of manufacturing or even in the communication industry. We are using sensors, we are using more technical avenues in which tasks can be completed in a more advanced, but simpler manner and so we can get work done in a timely and more efficient manner,” the team Leader told Career & Education.
“We need these devices. What we need are engineers who can tailor things to our industry. We have problems unique to us,our people and our country.” added Bailey, noting that the work that they and others like them are doing would help Jamaica realize its Vision 2030 development target.