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Students Present University of Cincinnati’s Achievements and Activities in Robotics

Dan Humpert, University of Cincinnati College of Engineering and Applied Science (CEAS) mechanical engineering professor, director of both the UC Center for Robotics Research and the Collaboratory for Medical Innovation and Implementation (CMII);

Professor Humpert, Anthony Ogg, Adam Ogg, and Austin LoPiccolo address President Ono and the UC Board of Trustees.

CEAS mechanical engineering students Adam and Anthony Ogg; and CEAS student Austin LoPiccolo presented to UC President Santa J. Ono and the Board of Trustees about the ongoing efforts to enhance achievements and efforts in the growing field of robotics, including possible sponsorship of FIRST® Robotics.

This presentation precedes the university-wide celebration and recognition of UC robotics during Robotics Night at 5/3 Arena on Nov. 20, 2013, jointly hosted by the UC College of Nursing and the College of Engineering and Applied Science. The event will showcase the various collaborative robotics projects ongoing at the university as well as recognize the CEAS Robotics Clubs, special local FIRST® Robotics teams, and the Ogg brothers who are receiving the initial FIRST® Robotics Scholarships.

Humpert opened the Tuesday discussion, “Robotics is incredible right now. It is mentioned virtually every day in the news. As a career, it is one of the hottest in engineering. When the UC Center for Robotics Research was started in September of 1983 by Professor Ernie Hall, Cincinnati was truly the global focus for robotics. With Cincinnati Milacron, P&G, GE, and Wright Patterson, all sponsoring projects, the center was a hotbed of innovation and idea implementation.

Our robotics efforts are now key interdisciplinary partnerships spanning the university. Due to the demand of promising medical and health projects, we opened the Collaboratory for Medical Innovation and Implementation (CMII) on July 1, 2012.”

CEAS has continually joined forces with the College of Medicine and the College of Nursing on notable robotics projects. Together these colleges developed the first-ever working model of the inner ear. The project produced very favorable results which should yield a robotic ear in the not too distant future.

The second collaboration was called the Lynn Proposal (named after Humpert’s wife who provided home care for her mom and dad until they passed away) which created a robotic pill dispenser that would ensure and keep track of the elderly taking their medicine. Adding to the Lynn Proposal was Grant Schaffner, aerospace engineering associate professor, who developed an exoskeleton to assist the elderly when walking.

Another project, highly proprietary at the time, involved a super-bug bacteria that was invented by Dan Hassett, professor at the College of Medicine. This bug could turn human waste into electricity yet no one had been able to build a large-scale reactor to make it work. The center built not one but two reactors that produced massive amounts of electricity. Current technology exists to generate natural gas from super-bug bacteria, and it’s speculated that every home in the near future will have a large three-chamber reactor to generate electricity, to produce natural gas and to treat and filter the rest so that crystal clear water is the effluent.

CMII is working in other areas such as fall detection and monitoring for the elderly. Humpert, on behalf of all the CMII partners, invited President Ono and the UC Board of Trustees to attend an open house on Nov. 5, at 10 a.m. to witness the unveiling of the collaborative Maple Knoll project.

UGV (unmanned ground vehicle), UAV (unmanned air vehicle) and other autonomous aircraft systems are also a major robotics focus. CEAS is conducting multiple projects involving quadracopters and larger-scale model airplanes. Project Airplane caused a quite a stir in the area when a group from the CEAS Robotics Team succeeded in taking off, landing and flying autonomously.

Another project proposed an unmanned ground and air vehicle (UGAV) that could both traverse on the ground and in the air. The team built and tested a small UGAV prototype—needless to say that in the not too distant future, there will be cars that can travel to a take-off pad, take-off, autonomously fly to a location using a dictated path, land at the designated landing-pad, and then drive to a parking spot. This may even eliminate the need for a new Brent Spence Bridge.

Humpert adds, “So yes, robotics is very hot right now. And today, the University of Cincinnati is once again garnering global attention as it commits to enhancing the flourishing field of robotics. I’m pleased to be a part of the commitment.”

As a testament to this commitment, UC's Office of the President and CEAS recently partnered to increase support for robotics education. This fall, they have awarded two FIRST® Robotics Scholarships of $2,500 each to mechanical engineering students Adam and Anthony Ogg, both of whom presented alongside Humpert on Tuesday. The initial scholarships awarded to the Ogg brothers are particularly significant given their many years as FIRST® Robotics Competition participants and the fact that they will serve as FIRST® Robotics ambassadors for UC students over the current academic year.

Beginning next fall (2014), the UC President’s Office and CEAS are making 25 one-time $2,000 FIRST® Robotics Scholarships available to entering freshmen who participated in FIRST® Robotics.

Adam Ogg, Anthony Ogg and Austin LoPiccolo presented to President Ono and the UC Board of Trustees about FIRST® Robotics and the importance of UC’s involvement with the organization.

FIRST® (an acronym “For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology”) Robotics was founded in 1989 to inspire young people's interest and participation in science and technology. Based in Manchester, N.H., the 501(c)(3) not-for-profit public charity designs accessible, innovative programs that motivate young people to pursue education and career opportunities in science, technology, engineering, and math, while building self confidence, knowledge, and life skills.

The FIRST® Robotics Competition (FRC) is an exciting program that organizes teams, sponsors, colleges and technical professionals with high school students to develop their solutions to a prescribed engineering challenge in a competitive game environment. The competitions combine the practical application of science and technology with the intensity, energy and excitement of a championship sporting event. The program is great fun and results in life-changing, career-molding experiences for its participants.

Globally, about 350,000 students competed in the 2013 season of FRC with around 71,250 of those participants being high school students on the verge of entering college. There are 60 registered FRC teams in Ohio, which is about 1,500 students total and 400 of them are based here in the Cincinnati area.

Many UC students are alumni of FIRST® Robotics and now serve as mentors for local teams. For example, Anthony Ogg advises the Lakota Thunderhawks, Team 1038.

Adam Ogg explained, “If UC were to be a sponsor of the FRC K-16, we could recruit our best students! It would grow our connections, amp our publicity, and show our community stewardship. For the students involved in FIRST® Robotics, UC’s involvement will allow technical, skills, and personal growth as a part of expanding STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education, all the while inspiring them to be the best they can be.”

The Tuesday session wrapped with a robot demonstration by the Ogg brothers.

With visionaries like Humpert and top-notch students such as the Ogg brothers and LoPiccolo, UC will undoubtedly pilot the world’s next generation of robotics.


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