The University of Alabama Robotics team became the first UA robotics team in school history to win the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers SoutheastCon Hardware Competition.
Seven electrical and computer engineering students represented UA at the 2018 regional conference held recently in Tampa, Florida. The UA team competed against 50 teams from across the southeast region.
“We were thrilled to hear ‘The University of Alabama’ when the winner was announced,” said Dr. Kenneth Ricks, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering and robotics team faculty adviser. “These students worked very hard and represented UA in a first-class manner. I was very happy they were able to win the championship.”
Over the past eight years the team from UA has consistently been in the top 10 of this competition. This year’s results mark the first time UA has won the entire competition.
“The UA team is by far the most consistent team year in and year out, but until we got over the hump it doesn’t mean much,” Ricks said. “Finally, in 2018 the team was able to break through and win it for the very first time to show the southeast region that UA has an outstanding program and the College of Engineering is capable of winning it all and sustaining that success over a long period of time.”
The goal of the competition is for each team to build an autonomous robot that is capable of solving a series of tasks. This year’s competition was pirate themed. The robots had to navigate their way through a pirate ship while completing tasks like turning a wheel to raise a pirate flag, going down a plank while avoiding water, and loading a treasure chest on the robot and returning it back to the ship.
The competition was set up into three rounds with the teams having to complete the tasks in under five minutes. Every team competed in the first two rounds and then the top four teams at the end of round two competed in a final round to decide the winner. The UA team completed each round in under 46 seconds.
“I felt an amazing sense of relief and pride when we were announced the winners. Leading up to and at the conference we really pushed ourselves and our robot to the limit,” said Tommy Gonsewski, a senior from Eufaula, Alabama. “We competed with the mentality of representing ourselves, Dr. Ricks, and the University in the very best way possible. I really feel lucky to have been a part of this team.”
The six electrical and computer engineering students that competed along with Gonsewski include:
- Will Bounds, senior from Delmar, Maryland.
- Patrick Dunleavy, junior from Western Springs, Illinois.
- Nick Rodriguez, senior from Atlanta, Georgia.
- Hunter Foster, senior from Birmingham.
- Nick Hohs, senior from Kenosha, Wisconsin.
- Daniel Zahn, senior from Raleigh, North Carolina.
The University of Alabama, the state’s oldest and largest public institution of higher education, is a student-centered research university that draws the best and brightest to an academic community committed to providing a premier undergraduate and graduate education. UA is dedicated to achieving excellence in scholarship, collaboration and intellectual engagement; providing public outreach and service to the state of Alabama and the nation; and nurturing a campus environment that fosters collegiality, respect and inclusivity.