By Mike McKissack
The College of DuPage Robotics Team, an offshoot of the College’s Engineering and Technology Club, had an impressive top-ten finish and was the only team from a two-year school to compete in the 31st annual Midwestern Robotics Design Competition (MRDC).
The Midwestern Robotics Design Competition is an annual robotics competition held at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where student teams from across the Midwest design and build competitive robots. Each year, a new game objective is created that tests the teams in terms of creative design and robot functionality and fosters new designs and innovation. The goal of the competition is to promote engineering disciplines and provide students a chance to demonstrate their technical abilities and creativity while applying knowledge learned in engineering courses.
This year’s team included Tomas Bindokas (Westmont), Issael Cordoba (Naperville), Chintan Dave (Carol Stream), Ojas DhiYogi (Naperville), John Dueschle (Lemont), Ryan Fase (Lemont), Alexandra Manaves (Willow Springs), Octavio Munoz (Glendale Heights), Edward Pittsford (Wheaton), Adam Popper (Lemont), Ashhud Rajput (Naperville), Evan Ripperger (Bensenville), Stephen Romero (Countryside), Kenneth Segovia (Hanover Park), and Bryce Williams (Aurora).
Ripperger, the team’s head of mechanics, said he is pleased with the team’s performance at the competition.
“The results of the competition were very positive in my eyes,” he said. “For the first time in COD's history of attending the competition, every robot we brought was successfully able to accomplish at least one of the challenges. This took huge effort from all of our team members, old and new.”
The team brought three robots to the competition, Scoot, Meme Machine and this year’s flagship robot, Canyonero. The three robots allowed the team to bring a new approach to the competition, Ripperger said.
“This year we chose to break the team into three segments in order to give the newer members of the team a more personal impact on their robot,” he said. “The drive-able frames of Meme Machine and Scoot had already been made, giving freshman club members a chance to learn about robotics through testing and modifications of existing robots instead of complete fabrication. Canyonero, on the other hand, was designed and manufactured completely new this year and is capable of attempting every challenge of MRDC. This includes a ball launcher, a chassis capable of climbing over all of the ramps and completing the Simon Says component of the competition.”
This year’s team follows a winning tradition at College of DuPage. In 2015, the COD Engineering team won Best Design at the MRDC competition. In 2017, the team entered three robots, competing against 27 teams from prestigious universities. One of their robots took fourth place overall in the final round.
For the past four years, the College’s team was one of only two community colleges invited to participate in the NASA Robotic Mining Competitions (RMC) held at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. In 2018, the team placed ninth in the RMC, beating out dozens of renowned four-year universities, including Colorado School of Mines, Illinois Institute of Technology, Milwaukee School of Engineering, Purdue, Texas A&M University and the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.
Ripperger said the competition was a great experience and provided a number of benefits to the team members.
“The best part of the competition is being exposed to such a large network of other passionate engineering students,” he said. “Getting to meet teams from all over the state and see their robots is incredibly interesting. More often than not, you can learn from other approaches to the same challenge. No two robots competing are exactly alike so exploring diverse designs is excellent engineering exposure.”
Pictured above, kneeling, left to right: Ryan Fase, Ashhud Rajput, Alexandra Manaves. Second row, left to right: Edward Pittsford (Wheaton); Issael Cordoba (Naperville); Adam Popper (Lemont); Chintan Dave (Carol Stream); John Dueschle (Lemont); Ojas DhiYogi (Naperville). Third row, left to right: Stephen Romero (Countryside); Octavio Munoz (Glendale Heights); Kenneth Segovia (Hanover Park); Evan Ripperger (Bensenville); Bryce Williams (Aurora); Tomas Bindokas (Westmont).