Students from the UAB School of Engineering placed second at the IEEE SoutheastCon 2012 hardware competition held in Orlando, finishing higher than any other school in the state of Alabama. The students, (pictured left to right) Wade Sweatt, Wesley Butsch, Chad McMicken and John Higgins, were members of the senior design class in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.
“This strong finish once again spotlights our sharp engineering students and strong engineering programs. Both compete well not only in the Southeast, but also nationally,” says Melinda Lalor, Ph.D., interim dean, UAB School of Engineering.
The competition featured 45 schools from across the Southeast. The UAB team qualified for the grand finale where they had to race 8 other robots, an event that was televised live on big screen TVs during the awards banquet, to see who could navigate a course, find targets and make electronic calculations fastest.
“There are four blocks on the course and two plates at each block,” says Chad McMicken, UAB senior. “The robot was required to either measure the voltage, capacitance and temperature, or distinguish between a saw-tooth and a square wave. The robot then had to take the appropriate course of action based on those measurements to earn points at each task block.”
“The difficulty didn’t lie in what the robot had to do as far as navigation and moving,” says John Higgins, UAB senior. “The difficulty was in making the measurements that were required because the circuitry for one measurement wouldn’t work at all for the other measurement and would actually hinder the measurements.”
The UAB team finished a close second to the combined team of Florida State and Florida A&M. The Blazers easily defeated the University of Alabama, Auburn University and the University of South Alabama.
The students said they put in more than 1,000 hours over the past two semesters. They said the second-place finish was rewarding, but gaining all that experience in real world electronic applications that apply to their industry is the real payoff.
(Pictured left to right top row, ECE Chair Yehia Massoud, Ph.D., Wade Sweatt, David Green, Chad McMicken, Larry Lokey, Wesley Butsch, Gregg Vaughn, Ph.D., interim Dean Melinda Lalor, Ph.D. - seated John Higgins)