Drexel’s annual Engineers Week began Feb. 20 with a presentation centered around the innovative robot technologies that students and faculty at the University have recently been working on.
The presentation, held in the Main Auditorium, was headed by Youngmoo Kim, assistant dean of engineering for media technologies and began with a display of an adult-size robot and its ability to interact with humans, namely a young volunteer from the audience. The robot was called Hubo, an acronym that comes from the term “humanoid robot.” It was built and engineered in Korea by the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology. These robots were first released in 2005, and Drexel has been experimenting with them since 2009.
After seeing the first Hubo in action, the crowd then witnessed the unveiling of six newly acquired Hubo robots. The occasion commemorated Drexel’s honor of being the only university in the world to possess seven of these robots. Kim commented that none of these new robots have yet been named, and he is open to any suggestions.
One of the new robots displayed an impressive feature by balancing on one leg. This feat was attributed to its ability to detect a center of gravity, thereby shifting its weight appropriately to remain balanced. Next, the six new robots put on a collaborative performance. They began by showing off their capabilities in the form of a dance, during which it was explained that they responded to the rhythm of the music rather than simply activating a preprogrammed code.
They then performed a demonstration of the Chinese martial art Tai Chi, the versatile movements of which showed promise for their ability to perform more practical tasks,, such as washing dishes and assisting the handicapped. Kim then explained that these robots are soon to be dispersed among other top engineering institutions around the country, including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Carnegie Mellon University, for further research.
Immediately following the presentation was a robotics competition, held in the Great Court of the Main Building. During this competition, students from Drexel’s freshman engineering program put robots to the test in a head-to-head competition.
The competing robots were built using Lego robotics kits. The goal of the competition was to carry objects representing trash and nuclear waste canisters, which were dispersed on a playing field, into their respective disposal locations. The teams had to come up with their own robot designs utilizing the Lego pieces, three motors and four sensors. They also had to construct a moving claw, which would be able to capture the waste canister and release it.
Having previously coding the robots before the event, the groups set them loose on the field in front of a watchful audience, consisting of both Drexel students and younger children. In order to advance in the competition, a group had to earn more points than its opposing group each round. Points were added when canisters were brought to the correct location, but points were subtracted in the opposite situation. The winning team was made up of freshmen Lawrence Papincak, Matthew Denshaw and Benjamin Yezuita.
“We made it through the first round with a bit of luck, but for the following rounds we modified our code and continued to come out on top,” Yezuita, an environmental engineering major, said. “It was an entertaining event, and I was happy to see enjoyment come from not only the participants but also spectators of a younger generation.”
Kim Marcellus, doctoral candidate and freshman engineering design fellow, said of the event, “It gave students the opportunity to display their robots to the rest of the University,” noting that it was a fun and social way to convey information about engineering.
The following event on Monday was called “Introduce a Girl to Engineering,” which involved teaching a group of 100 Junior Girl Scouts about the fundamentals of the field with hands-on experiments and lectures.
The final event that day pitted engineering faculty members against each other in a game of “Jeopardy!” in Mitchell Auditorium. The faculty members were grouped by department and were asked questions about Drexel and engineering. The electrical and computer engineering department won the match.
On Feb. 21, many students were dressed in their finest suits at the Engineering Career Fair, which was held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Edmund D. Bossone Research Center and hosted by the Steinbright Career Development Center. Representatives from companies ranging from Boeing to Google set up booths and shared information about their company. The booths catered to all engineering disciplines.
Some companies were there to recruit students for co-op jobs, and others were recruiting for full-time positions. While all students were required to wear name tags along with a colored sticker representing their major, some were evidently more serious than others in their pursuit for a job at the event. Hartej Arora, a senior electrical engineering major, was at the Career Fair to inquire about full-time opportunities for after graduation.
“[The fair was] effective in getting Drexel students aware of the job opportunities in the field of engineering,” he said.
Later that day there was the Engineering Extreme Dodge Ball Tournament.
On Feb. 22, the main events were a Student Organization Expo and Tie-Dye T-shirt session, both held in the Bossone lobby from 4 to 6 p.m. Many students arrived promptly to get their hands on a T-shirt. The tie-dying was not done in an ordinary fashion; it involved permanent markers and rubbing alcohol. Josa Hanzlik, a fourth-year doctoral student in biomedical engineering, planned the event and explained how the dying process worked.
“The permanent marker ink is dissolved and spread out by the rubbing alcohol. Once the shirt is dry, put it in the dryer for 15 minutes. Then you can wash and wear the shirt,” he said.
Some students wrote creative slogans while others opted for a more artistic approach. Freshman Erika Klemp, a biomedical engineering major, drew a flower and said the process was “less messy than real tie-dying.”
Among the student organizations present at the expo were Engineers Without Borders and Material Advantage. Travis Longenbach, a fourth-year materials engineering student, represented the Material Advantage organization at the expo and demonstrated a delectable engineering concept by making liquid nitrogen ice cream. Drexel’s Material Advantage is an organization that brings materials engineering students together in an exclusive academic community.
Nicole Ferraro, a freshman biomedical engineering major, represented EWB at the expo.
“It’s really good that we get to showcase the practical applications of engineering,” she said.
Engineers Without Borders is an outreach group that takes on engineering projects in impoverished areas around the world. They are currently working on building two bridges in Jamaica and creating a clean water system in Miramar, Argentina. At the EWB table there was a bucket of water balloons that represented the weight a child must carry to bring water to their families.
EWB also made an appearance in another Engineering Week Event, Engineering Quizzo, which was held at Landmark Americana Feb. 22 at 8 p.m.
On Feb. 23 a scavenger hunt started at 4 p.m., comprised of teams of engineering students competing to solve riddles and posting their solutions on Twitter. Later that night, the winners of the previous competitions of the week were recognized during the Engineering Student Mixer held in the Bossone Atrium.
To bring the week to a conclusion, the Engineering Alumni Panel Discussion will be held Feb. 24 at the Anthony J. Drexel Picture Gallery, followed by an awards ceremony in Mitchell Auditorium. Joseph B. Hughes, the newly appointed dean of the College of Engineering, will be formally welcomed and provide a keynote speech. An invitation-only dinner, at which the dean will recognize the recipients of the Alumni Circle of Distinction Award, will immediately follow the ceremony.