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Three Computer Engineering Technology Students to Compete in International Robotics Competition

Three City Tech computer engineering technology students – Sandor Bocz, Michael Hernandez and David Ruffins – have been selected to participate in the 1st Annual Robotics Innovations Competition & Conference (RICC) to be held at Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Worcester, Massachusetts, on November 7 and 8, 2009. The two-day event, supported in part by National Science Foundation funding, will see entrepreneurially-oriented robotics engineering students from colleges and universities throughout the U.S. and abroad compete for top honors.

Under the guidance of Professor Iem Heng and working in a makeshift lab Bocz, Hernandez and Ruffins set up off-campus, the three students have engineered a robotic prototype that mimics the actions of a controlling human torso, arm and hand. Unlike most existing robots of its kind, the hand of the robot the students have devised has five movable fingers. Both the robotic arm and fingers are controlled and manipulated by a human operator wearing a wireless glove and a sensor strapped to one arm. This enables the operator to exercise control over the fingers, arm and shoulder of the robot. Each of the robot’s five fingers precisely duplicate the movements of the five human fingers in the controlling glove.

“Somewhere down the road,” says Professor Heng, “commercial and other applications of the science and technology these three inventive students have combined in their demonstration robot could serve a multitude of useful purposes, from assisting the handicapped with everyday activities to the handling of dangerous and hazardous materials.”

The three City Tech students are both overjoyed and proud to have been selected to participate in this prestigious RICC international competition and conference. The competition is intended to challenge students to design and build robots that can perform useful and novel tasks of benefit to society. Entrants will be judged primarily on the extent to which they meet existing needs or create new markets, and secondarily with respect to design and analysis, implementation skill, and business plans. The RICC event emphasizes the engineering of solutions to open-ended real-world problems and invites creativity by an open competition based on the intellectual and commercial and/or humane aspects of the solutions.

Not only will the RICC event stimulate students to image new robotic applications and encourage them to develop their ideas into working prototypes, but will bring their works to the attention of industry leaders who may see opportunities to further develop the students’ ideas. In addition, RICC will provide the students a forum where they can meet with industry representatives to learn about new and emerging technologies and problems that lend themselves to robotic solutions.

Win or lose, Bocz, Hernandez and Ruffins are excited about the possibilities that the RICC competition will bring them. The three are fascinated by the role that robotics will play in the future in all areas of human endeavor as well as by the opportunities to learn from RICC about what other students are doing in this rapidly growing area of applications of computing to technical progress. The competition is something they wouldn’t miss for the world.

“What these three outstanding students have done is no small technical accomplishment,” adds Professor Heng. “I, personally, other faculty and staff of the computer engineering technology department and their fellow students are intensely proud of them and of the enthusiasm that have brought to this effort.”


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