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Shepherd students compete in robotics competition

ISSUED: 3 May 2010
MEDIA CONTACT: Valerie Owens
(Shepherd students compete in robotics competition)

Shepherdstown, WV--Members of the Shepherd University Robotics Club took second place at the recent Abington Regional Firefighting Robot Contest at Penn State Abington in Pennsylvania. The object of the exercise was to create a robot that could find the fire in the maze and extinguish it.

Shepherd students entered three teams in the senior division of the competition. The competition included a total of 56 robots from schools across the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions and one team came from as far away as the University of Wisconsin.

This is the second time that the club has participated in the competition, but it was the first time that they took home an award. The Neptune team--made up of Caleb Rice, of Kearneysville; Andy Bungard, of Sistersville; Elod Bartos, of Washington, D.C.; Jeffery Carter, of Shepherdstown; and Michael Skaggs, of Arnoldsville--placed second in the competition.

The other two teams included the Vulcan team, made up of Seth Cook, of Shepherdstown; Jon Hennenberg, of Martinsburg; Ryan Hernandez, of Falling Waters; and George Gaither, of Winchester, Virginia; and Triton team, made up of Chris Schmitt, of Martinsburg; Ben Withem, of Charles Town; and Matthew Tark, and Emad Khan, both of Hagerstown, Maryland.

The club is going into its third year on campus. Students create and solder their robots in a lab in Snyder Hall.

Chris Schmitt, senior computer science major from Martinsburg, said that the competition was a good experience for him.

"I learned more than just programming," Schmitt said. "I expanded my knowledge to hardware and software."

Caleb Rice, sophomore mathematics major from Kearneysville, who helped head the group up this year, said that he developed leadership skills through the competition.

Dr. Seung-yun Kim, assistant professor of computer and information sciences and faculty advisor for the Robotics Club, said that the club and competition provides good experiences for students.

"It's a great retention tool for students in the department," Kim said. "It helps cultivate their leadership skills, teach teamwork, and build their engineering minds."

Jeffery Carter, freshman computer engineering major from Shepherdstown, said that the competition gave him a chance to apply what he learned in the classroom with real-life application, while also making new friends.

Reza Mirdamadi, associate professor of engineering and chair of the department of computer science, mathematics, and engineering, said that the department purchased five robots in 2005. The robotics club started as a class but Mirdamadi extended the opportunity to all students at Shepherd by making it a club, which he mentored until 2007 when Kim took it over.

Mirdamadi said that the program started at a basic level, but now has a specific mission with the recent participation in competitions. In addition, the Robotics Club has exposed the department in other arenas and allows students to network and learn from students at other schools.

"It's a good learning experience all around," Mirdamadi said.

This fall, the department will offer two sections of First-Year Experience courses in robotics.

"We hope this will build community among the students and hopefully attract students to the department," Mirdamadi said.

Visit the Shepherd Robotics Club online at http://suroc.cmeshepherd.com/

-30-KESNER

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Pictured above (l. to r., first row) are Jeffery Carter, Shepherdstown; (second row) Ben Withem, Charles Town; and Elod Bartos, Washington, D.C.; (third row) John Kessler, Kearneysville; Caleb Rice, Kearneysville; Michael Skaggs, Arnoldsville; and Dr. Seug-yun Kim, faculty advisor; and (fourth row) Chris Schmitt, Martinsburg; Jon Henneberg, Martinsburg; and Andy Bungard, Sistersville. Not pictured are Seth Cook, of Shepherdstown; Matthew Tark, of Hagerstown, Maryland; Ryan Hernandez, of Falling Waters; George Gaither, of Winchester, Virginia; and Emad Khan, of Hagerstown, Maryland.

Shepherd students participate in the Abington Regional Firefighting Robot Contest at Penn State Abington.

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