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Engineering students create robots to play in Notre Dame spring robotic game

Students from Ohio Northern University’s T.J. Smull College of Engineering have created three robotic football players to compete in the third annual University of Notre Dame robotic football competition on April 15.

As part of their senior capstone project during the 2010-11 academic year, a team of ONU students manufactured robotic players (a quarterback, a center and a wide receiver), with funding from the University of Notre Dame. These players will compete in the spring game, which tests the skills of each robot specific to their position, and will join robots built by Notre Dame students in a game of eight-on-eight, modified-rules football.

The ONU team includes mechanical engineering seniors Daniel Piehl of Harrod, Ohio, Patrick Rachow of Strongsville, Ohio, Kyle Simmons of North Lawrence, Ohio, and Matt Zehner of Shelby, Ohio. The team also includes electrical engineering seniors Talal Alshaikh of Saudi Arabia, Amy Murray of Botkins, Ohio, and Melissa Turner of Coldwater, Ohio, as well as computer engineering seniors Andrew Rickard of Van Wert, Ohio, and Andrew Stephon of New Philadelphia, Ohio.

They are advised by ONU faculty members John-David Yoder, associate professor of mechanical engineering, and Sami Khorbotly, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering. Yoder worked with two faculty members, Dr. James Schmiedeler and Dr. Michael Stanisic, at Notre Dame to coordinate the project.

“Building football-playing robots is a truly interdisciplinary project,” said Khorbotly. “Students from three different engineering majors had to work together on various parts of the robots. Communication, teamwork, project management, and system engineering are invaluable skills that these students learned and practiced for this project to be such a great success.”

The robotics competition involves between 60 and 70 Notre Dame seniors who are assigned to teams and then work together to design, build and remotely operate robots competing in football. This project serves as the engineers’ “capstone” project of their senior year.