Robots descend on UNCA!

It’s going to be “all metal all the time” at a robot gathering at UNCA held in parallel with the campus’ open house and hosted by the school’s Mechatronics Engineering Department (a collaboration with NC State), and the WNC Chapter of the Institute for Electrical an Electronic Engineers.

The event will be a chance to showcase the school’s senior projects in mechatronics — the discipline of computer-controlled movement — as well as the robot creations of others in the community. That includes submissions by high school students who participate in robotics competitions through the First Robotics program. And community human overlords are invited to bring their robot creations as well.

Students in the program are assigned to create robots that can perform tasks like following lines on the floor, picking up different sized balls and even knocking over other robots, as is the mission of “Sumo Bots.”

But don’t expect epic robot wars: “This isn’t “Battle Bots,” says Brian Kowald, coach and mentor for the Hendersonville High School “First” Team. Rather, the showcase is intended to highlight the still-developing opportunities local students have at both the high school and college levels and the expanding ways mechatronics is being used in industries like manufacturing.

“I’m trying to spread the gospel here,” says Prof. Yusef “Joe” Fahmy. “And the awareness of what we have here at UNCA.”

But at it’s heart, the event is a room full of robots, which really needs little justification. “Everybody who has a cool robot, come on out,” Fahmy says.

The Robot Rally will be held Saturday, April 25 from Noon to 3 p.m. in the Robinson Hall lobby at UNCA. Admission is free and open to the public.

Brian Postelle, staff writer



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