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MIT studentshost sharing session for IVE ROBOCON Team
  • <p>“When they started presenting their ideas, they came up with something thatI would have never thought about, and I was like ‘wow’”.</p>
  • <p>“When they started presenting their ideas, they came up with something thatI would have never thought about, and I was like ‘wow’”.</p>

“When they started presenting their ideas, they came up with something thatI would have never thought about, and I was like ‘wow’”.

Jan 2014

Students and teachers of the IVE Engineering have been, once again, busy preparing for ROBOCON, an international robot building competition for tertiary institutions in the Asia-Pacific region. While striving to create the winning robots, the IVE team received a big boost as three students from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) flew all the way to Hong Kong in January to give a sharing session on the latest developments in robotics, share their experiences in robot building and offer suggestions to improve the preliminary designs.

Abraham Garza, Brandon Wright and Ross Patrick Capulong are mechanical engineering students in their third year of study at MIT. In January, they spent two weeks in Hong Kong and organised a tutorial on technical innovations in robots for the 30 students who will participate in this year’s ROBOCON. The one-hour session was inspiring and eye-opening, as the trio talked on a variety of topics ranging from 3D printing to biomimetics, a branch of engineering science which designs and build robots and models that imitate nature to solve human problems.

Besides introducing the newest robotic technology, the MIT students also gave invaluable opinions and suggestions on the draft design of robots. “They listed a lot of possible problems of producing and operating the robots. They focused on the practical, not just the things on paper,” said Chan Chun-hoi, a year two student who majors in mechanical engineering. “They also told us the competitions they joined before and showed us the robots they built.”

Meanwhile, the MIT student representatives were impressed with the IVE team’s effort and the grasp of engineering knowledge. “This group is smart,” said Mr. Capulong. “When they started presenting their ideas, they came up with something that I would have never thought about, and I was like ‘wow’. I was impressed with their creativity as well as their technical skills. They modelled really well and they know all the engineering theories behind too.”

Sometimes, it is tempting to focus on creating fancy, complicated designs and thus deviate from the goals of the competition. The MIT students reminded the IVE team of the fundamentals of building great robots. “One very important thing you have to consider is to make it as simple as possible. Don’t complicate too much,” said Mr. Garza.

Discipline is an essential quality for successful engineers, and it rings true for ROBOCON contestants too. “Being organised is a huge deal. You have to schedule things,” said Mr. Garza. “We always say, ‘If we had more time, my robot would have been much better.’ Just being conscious of time is the key,” said Mr. Capulong.

Any room for improvement? During their two weeks here, the MIT students noticed that the IVE students should interact with different teammates more. After all, it is a rare opportunity to work in a group with more than 30 members and participate in a citywide competition. “They should mingle with each other and get to know each other, because when you are in a team with people you like and you know and you are friends with, it motivates you more,” said Mr. Capulong.

With ROBOCON coming in June, the IVE team is now busy assembling robots and testing programs. It was a fantastic opportunity for the students to learn from their counterparts of MIT, who shared their insights and knowledge, and showed their heartfelt support. This year will mark the fifth time that IVE has joined ROBOCON, and the team will for sure give their best and deliver great robotic designs.

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