Each fall, U of M mechanical engineering students participate in the largest robot show in the Twin Cities. The show is a culmination of their introductory design class (ME 2011). The final six weeks of these students' semesters are spent designing and building computer-controlled machines that "do something interesting" for no more than 60 seconds.
Students received a kit of parts and could supplement it with no more than $40 worth of additional materials. These design constraints are important because students need to learn how to be creative and deal with limitations to prepare them for their future careers.
At the end of the semester, a robot show is held in McNamara Alumni Center where students are judged by mechanical engineering faculty and graduate students, faculty from other departments, and professionals from industry. For complete information about the assignment, read the robot project website.
This year, I was able to attend the robot show. I wasn't sure what to expect, and I was impressed by the number of visitors and robots on display.
Tables with robots took up two rooms in the alumni center! These robots can do useful things, like tie a shoe or make a sandwich, or they can be purely entertaining, like the robot playing a xylophone or golfing Goldy Gopher robot.
Here are some of my favorite robots from the show:
One student created a golfing Goldy Gopher!
There was even a robot hospital to take care of wounded robots.
If you'd like to see more pictures from robot shows dating back to 2004, check out the robot show website!