For months, Jia (Scarlett) Wei ’23 tested circuit elements and helped her team design and build an autonomous robot that fits snugly in one’s hand.
On Saturday, April 9, she will learn if the project pays off.
Wei is part of one of three Union teams competing in the annual Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Region 1 Micromouse Competition. This is the first time the College has hosted the competition, which was paused for two years because of COVID.
Other schools represented include the University of Maine, New Jersey Institute of Technology, Rutgers University and Wentworth Institute of Technology.
The opening ceremony is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. and events are scheduled throughout the day. All take place in space inside the Integrated Science and Engineering Complex.
The goal of the competition is straightforward: a self-contained (no remote controls) micromouse no longer or wider than 25 centimeters must navigate a maze comprised of a 16 x 16 grid of squares, 5 cm high and 1.2 cm thick.
However, the path to success is complex. Teams must design and build the hardware, control, sensor and system integration, and microcontroller integration. They must also develop the computer algorithms for mapping and route planning.
Ingenuity is on display throughout the competition.
Prizes of up to $1,700 funded by the IEEE will be awarded for the fastest times to navigate the maze and for design.
“Working on the robots is such a great opportunity to put what we learn into practice,” said Wei, who is from Chengdu, China. She is a biomedical engineering major with a Seward Organizing theme minor in computational physics.
“Hosting the competition will give us a chance to see how our work compares to other teams, and to meet our peers from other schools who have the same interests.”
Other team members include Akriti Dhasmana ’22 and Muhammad Farooq Memon '25.
A second team consists of Luka Mgaloblishvili ’24 and Samuel Degemu '22, while Alexandra Weinstock ‘21, Manav Bilakhia ’24 and Jiajun Lin ‘24 complete the third team.
Ali Khan ’22, president of the Robotics Club, Sean Miller ’22 and Edwin Garcia-Flores ‘22 played integral roles in preparing for the competition.
All Union students participating Saturday are members of the Union College Robotics Club.
“With the robotics crew existing for over eight years now, it is gratifying to be hosting the competition at Union,” said Cherrice Traver, the David Falk and Elynor Rudnick-Falk Professor of Computer Engineering.
“The students have really treated this club as a learning hub, welcoming students from all majors, holding classes on various topics and supporting each other as they all learn together.”
To learn more about the IEEE Region 1 Micromouse Competition, visit the website.