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International Robotics Design Competitions: Potential And Pitfalls

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1999 Annual Conference


Charlotte, North Carolina

Publication Date

June 20, 1999

Start Date

June 20, 1999

End Date

June 23, 1999



Page Count


Page Numbers

4.339.1 - 4.339.5



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Paper Authors

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John Spinelli

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Cherrice Traver

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 2520

International Robotics Design Competitions: Potential and Pitfalls

Cherrice Traver, John M. Spinelli Union College


The role of international design competitions in an Engineering Curriculum is investigated using a case study involving participation by 9 Union College students in an autonomous robot competition in France. As part of their degree requirements, all Union Engineering majors are required to have an international experience. Participation in the 1998 E=M6 Robot Soccer competition in France, and subsequent study of French engineering education, was used by some to fulfill this requirement.

The Union students cooperated with a team of French students from ESIGELEC who were also entered in the competition. They designed an autonomous robot to play a type of table-top soccer against a competing robot. The Union team included sophomore, junior, and senior students majoring in Mechanical Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Computer Systems Engineering and Computer Science. The Internet was used for communication with their cooperating team in France. The students traveled to France for final debugging and testing as well as to participate in the competition itself.

The potential educational benefits from this type of experience include exposure to open- ended multidisciplinary design, development of teamwork and project management skills, and appreciation for another culture. In addition to expected team related issues such as group dynamics, the students and their faculty advisors needed to address cross- cultural issues relating to cooperation between the teams. The experience was assessed using a questionnaire following the competition. Greater attention by the advisors and the students to team skills would have greatly increased the educational effectiveness of the project.


As part of a redesign of its engineering curriculum, Union College began requiring an international experience for engineering majors in 1997. Students may satisfy this requirement by going on a traditional term abroad, by studying a foreign language, by participating in an international coop, or by participating in an international design project. In 1997, Union was planning an exchange program with ESIGELEC, a French engineering school. As a prelude to sending Union students on the exchange, we decided to encourage participation by a group of students in the 1998 E=M6 Robotics Competition in France. Engineering students from ESIGELEC had been participating in this competition for several years, and they were willing to cooperate with a group of students from Union. Several Union students were members of the college’s robot club and had participated in the American Nuclear Society student robotics competition in

Spinelli, J., & Traver, C. (1999, June), International Robotics Design Competitions: Potential And Pitfalls Paper presented at 1999 Annual Conference, Charlotte, North Carolina. 10.18260/1-2--7776

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