College students from 13 schools around the world will be challenged at Worcester Polytechnic Institute's (WPI) inaugural Robotics Innovation Competition and Conference (RICC) Nov. 7-8, 2009 to create robots that will improve – or even solve – quality-of-life issues.
This competition will take students out of the research lab and into the real world of practical applications and industry markets. The teams – made up of approximately 50 students from Egypt, Mexico, California, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, and New Jersey – will design, develop, and prototype their robots to fulfill "quality of life" functions. Some of the featured robots, for example, are built to assist brain surgeries; act as a nurse's assistant in a hospital; and give handicapped people the ability to rise from a chair and use a walker and access hard-to-reach items. In addition to designing and building their robot, teams must also assess the market value of their invention and produce a written report describing their analysis. Cash prizes up to $5,000 will be awarded based on reports, presentations, robot demonstrations, and poster sessions.
Not only a competition, the event's conference portion, with about 160 registrants, will be a venue for robotics community building and networking between industry and academia. Several speakers will address robotics technology, educating robotics engineers, and entrepreneurship.
Since fall 2007, WPI has offered the nation’s first bachelor's degree program in robotics engineering, and in 2009 the university began offering a new master's-level robotics program. These majors are designed to prepare a new generation of engineers with the skills and imagination to develop intelligent machines that go beyond today's reality. Among other robotics competitions, WPI also hosts the annual Savage Soccer tournament (to be held Nov. 14, 2009); RoboNautica, the official state championship tournament of FIRST LEGO League, which showcases the talents of hundreds of children ages 9-14 from across Massachusetts and the Northeast (Dec. 19, 2009); WPI FRC Regional, an official tournament for FIRST high school teams (March 11-13, 2010); and BattleCry@WPI, one of the most popular national tournaments for high schools robotics teams (May 7-8, 2010).
The RICC, which will be held in WPI’s Campus Center Odeum, is made possible by a grant from the National Science Foundation. For more information, see the RICC schedule.