A team of McNeese State University mechanical engineering students won second place in the “Robots for Relief” student design competition at the American Society of Mechanical Engineers 2015 International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition in Houston, Texas. The team and its faculty advisers are from left: Dr. Ning Zhang, Nabin Dhakal, Jeevan Rai, Benjamin Pearce, Alper Unluer and Dr. Zhuang Li
(November 20, 2015) McNeese State University’s student engineering team took second place in the 2015 American Society of Mechanical Engineers Student Design Competition – Robots for Relief - held Nov. 15 in Houston, Texas, as part of the ASME International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition.
Seventeen entries from universities in the United States, Mexico, Poland, Lebanon, Pakistsan, Turkey, Peru, Saudi Arabia, India and Egypt competed for the three awards in the annual international competition for college students. Two engineering teams from North Carolina State University captured first and third place.
The students – Benjamin Pearce, DeQuincy, Jeevan Rai, Nepal, Alper Unluer, Turkey, and Nabin Dhakal, Nepal – designed and built a scaled-down prototype of a robotic system that can be a model for a rescue robot working in disaster areas around the world. The McNeese team was allowed three minutes to put its model-sized battery operated robot through the paces on a planned test course to demonstrate the capability of the device to assist in humanitarian operations.
McNeese’s rescue robot performed almost flawlessly, maneuvering around obstacles, pivoting and loading and unloading bulk materials, according to Julio C. Guerrero, president of ASME.
“These students have displayed considerable technical ingenuity and skill in designing prototypes that can be the forerunners of robotic systems able to perform important humanitarian relief services in many parts of the world,” said Guerrero. “The students are indeed tomorrow’s technology innovators and problem solvers.”
The McNeese team placed first place in the ASME design competition at the regional conference hosted by Texas Tech University back in the spring to move on to the international competition in Houston.
The team's entry was created for the students’ ENGR 491 Capstone Senior Design course taught by Dr. Ning Zhang. Dr. Zhuang Li was the mentor for this project. The team used a 3D printer to design its prototype and built a practice obstacle course to simulate rough terrain that included water, inclines, sand and 90 degree steps.
“This is so great!” said Pearce - who graduated in the spring - of taking the runner-up spot in the 2015 ASME Student Design Competition. “This was assigned for our senior design project and we have been working on the robot for more than a year. This ASME award really caps a lot of work for us.”
McNeese’s College of Engineering was recently ranked third in the nation among engineering programs in terms of career return on investment for its graduates- topping all engineering programs in the state of Louisiana – by PayScale Inc.
“We are extremely proud of our students’ accomplishment at this international event where there was a high level of competition,” said Dr. Nikos Kiritsis, dean of the college of engineering. “This is a great learning experience for our students. The competition showcases the talents of our engineering students while at the same time encouraging them to develop innovative ideas that improve the quality of life.”
He added that “their hard work and commitment also reflect positively on the outstanding professors here at McNeese who are working to ensure that our graduates are well prepared and job ready on day one.”