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Face Off: Robots Take to Ice During Union-RPI Game

Seamus Feider-Sullivan '13 works on his robot under the guidance of Dave Hodgson, assistant professor of mechanical engineering.
Seamus Feider-Sullivan '13 works on his robot under the guidance of Dave Hodgson, assistant professor of mechanical engineering.

Originally published in the Union College Magazine, Spring 2013

Fans at the inaugural Mayor’s Cup men’s hockey game between Union and RPI were treated to an unusual shootout during the second intermission: Robo-Hockey.

Four teams of mechanical engineering students who designed and built the wheeled robots—about the size of a briefcase—competed in a four-minute period in front of thousands of spectators.

Starting from one of the face-off circles, one robot got 20 seconds to fire a four-ounce blue puck past another robot positioned in the goalie crease. The process repeated itself until the period ended.

“This was a perfect opportunity to get engineering students and their academic accomplishments out in front of people who normally wouldn’t go to an engineering competition,” said Ronald Bucinell, associate professor of mechanical engineering. “We hope it also inspires young people to consider careers in engineering.”

Bucinell, along with David Hodgson, assistant professor of mechanical engineering, and Sudhir Khetan, visiting instructor of bioengineering, oversaw the project.

“This has been a good learning experience,” said Zach Reinert ’13, a mechanical engineering major from Houston. “We were skeptical at first, but it turned out to be fun. We ran into some things that didn’t work, but that’s good, because you just keep working until you get it right.”