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Ohio Northern University defeats University of Notre Dame in robotic football

Apr 25, 2014

Students from Ohio Northern University’s T.J. Smull College of Engineering defeated the University of Notre Dame, 29-7, during the annual University of Notre Dame robotic football competition on Saturday, April 19, in South Bend, Ind.

By defeating the Irish, the Polar Bears snared the Brian Hederman Memorial Robotic Competition Award for the second consecutive season. The award is named after Hederman, a Notre Dame student who suffered an untimely death after his freshman year in 1995. A drawing he left behind inspired the trophy and the competition itself.           

A mix of students from the Polar Robotics Club and from an engineering capstone project manufactured multiple robotic players (quarterbacks, centers, linemen, running backs, wide receivers and a kicker). These players competed in an eight-on-eight, modified-rules football game, which tested the skills of each robot specific to its position, against robots built by Notre Dame students.

Equipped with sensors that flash different colors when the mechatronic players are hit, tackled or injured, the robots are roughly the size of desktop printers. The game itself consisted of two 10-minute halves and a 10-minute halftime.

The ONU team is Noah Orr, a senior computer engineering major from Centerburg, Ohio; Jared Schatzinger, a senior mechanical engineering major from Shelby, Ohio; Tyler Germann, a junior electrical engineering major from New Haven, Ind.; Josh Gedert, a junior electrical engineering major from Toledo, Ohio; Shawn Dooley, a freshman computer science major from Antwerp, Ohio; Brian Swanson, a freshman electrical engineering major from King Mills, Ohio; Ryan Dodds, a sophomore mechanical engineering major from Loveland, Ohio; Paul Sorensen, a junior computer engineering major from Ada, Ohio; Keith Paul, a junior computer engineering major from Sidney, Ohio; Ethan Hess, a junior mechanical engineering major from Urbana, Ohio; Saad Almagahwi, a senior mechanical engineering major from Saudi Arabia; Michael Howell, a senior mechanical engineering major from Smithville, Ohio; Robert Kaminski, a senior mechanical engineering major from Strongsville, Ohio; Austin Nelson, a senior electrical engineering major from Zanesville, Ohio; Zachary Runzo, a senior mechanical engineering major from Wexford, Pa.; and Matthew Zirkle, a senior mechanical engineering major from New Bremen, Ohio.

The students are advised by ONU faculty member John-David Yoder, professor and chair of mechanical engineering, and Heath LeBlanc, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering. Yoder worked with Notre Dame faculty member Michael Stanisic to coordinate the project.

Despite the air of a sporting event, the game was actually a display of the accumulated knowledge of sophisticated engineering concepts. The technical challenges of designing and building the robot football players deepens student understanding of and the ability to implement engineering principles. The participants will take the skills they acquire during the project and use them in their careers as engineers, applying the same principles to develop a variety of electromechanical systems.