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The Marconi Challenge: Who Needs The Ieee Micromouse?

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2005 Annual Conference


Portland, Oregon

Publication Date

June 12, 2005

Start Date

June 12, 2005

End Date

June 15, 2005



Conference Session

Undergraduate Research & New Directions

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.1307.1 - 10.1307.5



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Paper Authors

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Dennis Silage

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

The Marconi Challenge: Who Needs the IEEE MicroMouse?

Dennis Silage Electrical and Computer Engineering College of Engineering, Temple University


Presented here from experience is a challenging new competition to supplement the IEEE MicroMouse contest. The IEEE MicroMouse contest has a storied history but is staid, technically complicated and expensive to mount. The Marconi Challenge is a new contest that addresses the design objectives of wireless data communication and is suitable for students from junior high school to college. The Marconi Challenge was originally conceived to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Guglielmo Marconi’s transatlantic wireless transmission in 2001. For high school students, the Marconi Challenge provides an opportunity to demonstrate the principles of lens and mirrors in optics and basic electronics in a stimulating environment. The transmission medium is infrared light and the requisite components and test equipment are inexpensive, easily obtained and no license is required. Complete teaching modules have been developed and accepted by a school district for use in the junior high school science and senior high school physics curriculum. Undergraduate ECE students can utilize more complex electronics, error correcting codes and RF modulation methods with an Amateur Radio license to explore applications of wireless communication based on their curriculum.

The Long Road to the IEEE MicroMouse

The IEEE MicroMouse contest, in which an autonomous robotic vehicle negotiates a geometric maze, traces its roots to a 'mouse versus maze' problem using relay logic that was proposed in 1950 at MIT. It first debuted in 1979 with 15 microprocessor-controlled entries, only 4 of which managed to solve the 8 by 8-foot maze. The IEEE MicroMouse contest continues today with either the original rules and the same design objectives or variations, such as the ASEE Model Design Competition.

Temple University (TU) has provided an entry and hosted the MicroMouse contest sponsored by the Philadelphia Section of the IEEE. A team of TU ECE undergraduates recently developed an innovative MicroMouse entry. Rather than utilize a commercial autonomous robotic vehicle, the TU ECE MicroMouse used an Intel i386EX 32-bit embedded processor in a microcomputer which was interfaced to custom analog and digital electronics. The process control and maze- solving software was written in C and assembly language and tested on a smaller quadrant maze before the actual competition.

The MicroMouse traditionally uses two wings equipped with a linear array of infrared (IR) transmitters and receivers. The wings ride over the top of the maze by design and provide a navigational signal for the MicroMouse to traverse the corridors of the arbitrary contest maze.

Proceedings of the 2005 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright  2005, American Society for Engineering Education

Silage, D. (2005, June), The Marconi Challenge: Who Needs The Ieee Micromouse? Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon. 10.18260/1-2--15608

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