Capstone projects are a milestone achievement for graduating seniors at Ohio Northern University, encompassing the hard work and knowledge attained by students over the course of his or her academic career.
A team of senior technology studies majors brought an aggressive new look to Capstone projects this spring when they designed and built a robot “mobile-assault vehicle” complete with tank treads, rotating gun turret and cannon. In keeping with ONU’s legacy of competing in robot-building competitions, the team comprising Joey Bechtel, of Bellefontaine, Ohio; Nate Evans, of Westerville, Ohio; Nick Speckert, of Cincinnati, Ohio; Adam Tabit, of Mount Morris, Mich.; and Brian Rudary, of Solon, Ohio, entered their robot into the National Robotics Challenge in Marion, Ohio, in late April. The team earned third place in the general construction category.
Their recognition was well earned after months of preparation. The five students began by brainstorming for ideas at the end of their junior year. At the start of fall semester, the newly formed team started to get plans under way.
At the beginning of spring semester, the team kicked it into high gear. They worked together on parts fabrication, wiring, testing and various other tasks to make their robot come to life.
Once the robot was in full working order, the team was ready to compete nationally. ONU teams have achieved longstanding success in competitions, and this team was determined it continued.
“The program here at ONU has a high standard,” says Rudary. “We’ve been competing for a long time and we always come home with either first, second or third place. It was very important for us to make sure that we upheld the standard.”
Success at the competition does not hinge solely on performance. Before participants ever reach that stage, it is paramount to have all parts of the robot checked and re-checked for malfunctions. Also, team members must have a working knowledge of their design and building process.
During the competition itself, teams provide a working demonstration for judges, followed by close scrutiny of their robot’s design. They are then tasked with answering a host of questions about building materials, assembly methods and other aspects of the robot itself.
Apart from the technical skills required to build a remote control robot vehicle, the Capstone project taught the team how to work together toward a common goal.
“The one thing that stood out above everything was communication,” says Rudary. “So being able to not only communicate, but also communicate effectively, that was a really big thing that I took away from it.”
The team also attributes their success to the interest and support of the Technology Department faculty.
“The faculty is very into what we are doing,” says Rudary. “They are always there to offer suggestions or ideas. They are definitely supportive and helpful, which is important.”
Political Science major