Testing the Limits

eweekMany engineering students are crazy about competitions, and those at the Case School of Engineering are no exception. From Lego robots to model bridge building to battery-powered cars, future engineers put their education to the test in battles of will, skill and, sometimes, student-made machines.

DARPA Grand Challenge

In its first appearance in the DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) Grand Challenge for autonomous robotic ground vehicles at the former George Air Force Base in Victorville, Calif., TeamCASE and its self-driving robotic car DEXTER finished in the top 20 out of an initial international field of more than 80 competitors, beating schools such as Caltech, Georgia Tech and Princeton.

FIRST Robotics Team Competition

FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) uses wholesale marketing and media techniques to motivate high school students to want to learn about science and technology. The national championships of the FIRST robotics competition teams up professional engineers with high school students from across the country.

ION Autonomous Lawnmower Competition

The Institute on Navigation hosts an anual autonomous lawnmower competiton which tests teams of students abilities build a robot that can mow an obsticle-strewn course by itself. The CWRU Cutter autonomous lawnmower is Case Western Reserve University's response to the challenge. The project incorporates: network communication and synchronization, data acquisition, sensor interfacing, vision processing, signal processing, artificial intelligence, system control, and robotic actuation. CWRU Cutter took 1st place in 2009 and 3rd place in 2008.

Lego Robot Competition

In conjunction with the annual Engineer’s Week, the Case School of Engineering invites teams of high school students to participate in the Lego Robot Competition and the Engineering Challenges Carnival. Middle school students are allowed to watch, but not compete in the Lego Robot Competition. The Carnival is opened to all--from preschool to adults--but activities are geared toward middle school.

Model Bridge Building Competition & Eveready Battery-powered Car Contest

The Departments of Civil Engineering and Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering co-sponsor two design competitions to encourage high school students with an interest in engineering design.

Northeast Ohio Regional Science Olympiad

The Center for Science and Mathematics Education hosts the annual Northeast Ohio Regional Science Olympiad for local middle and high school students. Over 600 students representing more than 20 schools come to campus each February to compete in a wide variety of science and engineering events. Winning teams advance to state and national competitions.