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Engineering Fun

Everyone often gets intimidated by engineering here at UT. Sometimes, the course material makes no sense; other times, everyone just has so many things to accomplish in one night.

But that does not mean everything we do is dull and boring. In some instances, we put our minds to work, creating fun for ourselves.

In our BME 102L lab class, taught by the fabulous Dr. James Tunnell, we were accorded the task of constructing and programming a robot car that would travel along a table without falling off the edge and detect the presence of people (a box). At this point, many folks would already feel overwhelmed. After all, robots worked by magic, right? Who would have thought we would be given the opportunity to build a simple robot on our own without any real preparation?

After tinkering with our Lego Mindstorms kit, we were able to conjure up some designs. But we had so many flaws with our design that we had to change the sensors (what would detect the ledge and the people) and, consequently, our program. So maybe 3 or 4 hours later spent “diligently” on the robot, we finally finished a working prototype. But with any program, the feeling of euphoria you get when it actually functions in the way you want it to transcends all conceivable tangible feelings. Perhaps because you are the one manipulating the intangible electrons. (You future programmers will know what I mean when you put together your first program).

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You can see the sensors in the front: the closest one is the touch sensor, which we programmed to stop the car when it comes into contact with the people. The other one, the ultrasound sensor, tells the car to turn when it detects the ledge.

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BME 102L Lego Mindstorms Robot (video on YouTube)

Our final assignment is to build a prosthetic arm that can pick up a filled cup. We shall see what new innovations we can come up with!

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November 6, 2011 | | Comments are closed for this post

2 Comments to Engineering Fun

I love how much you love what you are studying. Engineers really do help change the world.

December 22, 2011
— Jelisa
 

Wow! This looks complicated but also loads of fun.

March 11, 2012
— Liz
 
photo of Khang