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Project Based Learning on Show at SERC’s Intercampus RoboCon 2019

Computing and Engineering students from across South Eastern Regional College (SERC) took part in the third annual RoboCon intercampus competition hosted at the College’s SPACE Campus in Bangor.   

Students where tasked with designing and building robots to take part in a range of timed challenges to be crowned champions.    

RoboCon 2019 required participants to compete in teams of two or three to design and build two robots with at least one printed circuit board using a minimum of two different manufacturing processes to transport two blocks at a time through a tough obstacle course and construct a tower of six blocks against the clock. The competitors have worked determinedly on their designs since the beginning of term in preparation for this event.   

Marks were awarded for overall quality of work produced, ability to work within the timeframes and the fastest robot to complete the circuit concluding in prizes for the most innovative and most competitive robot.   

Winners for the most competitive robot design were Thomas Doran from Banbridge and Joseph McKee from Lisburn. Their use of two robots, one for stacking and one for transporting highlighted their use of levels, multi-tasking and excellent teamwork and communication skills saw them finished with an astonishing time of 4 minutes 19 seconds. Their triumph meant they each received the most sought-after Parrot Mambo FPV mini drone prize.    

Winners of the most innovative robot design were Lewis English from Newtownards and Alex Breadon from Donaghadee. They created an innovative makeshift conveyer belt so they could easily transport and drop the blocks on top of each other, effectively stacking them. Their imagination and skills saw them walk away victorious with Amazon Echo Dots for their efforts.    

The competition was a great example of the benefits of Project Based Learning with collaborative input from numerous disciplines across the College including production, arts and music students who organised lighting and sound and hospitality students who provided front of house services.    

Anthony Johnston, SERC Deputy Head of School of Engineering and Computing, said “The competition was great fun for the students. The standard of work continues to improve each year we host RoboCon. We encourage our students to participate in all competitions, which will enhance their skills and knowledge. RoboCon contributes to the students overall learning experience and provides them with the opportunity to test their skills against their peers, experiment and improves their confidence.    

“SERC is a fertile learning ground for innovative and dynamic students in the field of robotics and mechatronics. The students undertook a huge task; from conception of ideas to design and prototyping development, robot testing through to the final robot release – the task was challenging. It gave the students the opportunity to work in teams and under pressure, to learn the skills they will need in the workplace.” 

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