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February 1997


Competing robots will go head-to-head as SouthEastCon '97 comes to Tech

For more than 10 years, Tech EE and CpE students have entered designs in the SouthEastCon hardware design contest. This year, Tech students are designing the contest.

Each spring semester for more than 10 years, a group of students has scrambled to pull together Virginia Tech's entry into the IEEE Region 3 SouthEastCon Hardware Design Contest. This year, however, a group of students is not designing an entry, but is organizing the student contest, as Tech and the Virginia Mountain Section of the IEEE co-host the April 12-14 conference.

The annual regional technical conference is expected to draw about 600 electrical and computer engineers to Blacksburg for technical sessions, workshops, and exhibits, according to Professor Ira Jacobs, the conference vice-chair.

The SouthEastCon conference is well known for its student contests - particularly the traditional, long-range hardware design contests- which are devised by the IEEE student branch at the host university.

This year's hardware contest, called the "Hokie Hunt," involves designing a robot that can go head-to-head on a playing board with a competing robot to gain the highest score by collecting and keeping as many brass (8 point) or steel (3 point) balls as possible. Part of the challenge is for the robot to distinguish between brass, steel and nylon balls. Collecting nylon balls (-2 points) will penalize the team. Robots also will have to maneuver around a pit in the center of the board.

"The key to winning this competition is strategy," said Jeff Scruggs (EE, '97), the hardware chair for the conference. A winning vehicle will not only have to collect the most points in the allotted amount of time, but must also account for its adversary vehicle that is competing on the same board at the same time, he explained. "Defensive and offensive strategies, such as stealing an opponent's balls, will be just as important as the ball retrieval mechanisms," he said.

Three other student competitions are being developed, including an on-the-spot programming contest, a multimedia technical web page design contest, and a student technical paper contest.



The Bradley Department of Electrical Engineering
Virginia Tech

Last Updated, May 5, 1997
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