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Team Red Blade wins MU Interdisciplinary Technology Development Challenge


Team Red Blade, with President Hodge (left), Jade Morton, adviser, and Provost Bobby Gemepsaw (right)
Team "Red Blade" was the winner of Miami’s 2011-2012 Interdisciplinary Technology Development Challenge (MUITDC), "Realizing Tomorrow’s Technologies: Focus on Ohio Third Frontier." Red Blade is an autonomous robot guided by differential GPS built with a platform that can plow snow or mow grass.

The winners of the Technology Development Challenge were announced at the Undergraduate Research Forum April 11. Team Red Blade, which won $5,000, is led by Chad Sobota, senior electrical and computer engineering major and computer science minor; with seniors Mark Carroll, computer engineering major, computer science minor; Bob Cole, computer engineering major, computer science minor; Mark Stratis, computer engineering major, computer science and entrepreneurship minors; and junior Harrison Bourne, electrical engineering and computer science minor.

They interfaced with students from three other majors to bring the interdisciplinary aspect to the team, said Jade Morton, professor of electrical and computer engineering and adviser to the team. Those students are Michael Conti, history and economics double major; Matt Sadler, architecture major and entrepreneurship minor; and Matt Vonderhaar, zoology and psychology majors and neuroscience minor.

Morton was assisted in advising the team by Steve Taylor and Ryan Wolfarth, both masters students in computational science and engineering.

The challenge encouraged interdisciplinary research by bringing teams of undergraduate students together to develop and demonstrate a technology at the laboratory scale, provide fiscal projections that indicate financial viability, and identify policy issues that incorporate esthetic and societal concerns. It is sponsored by the office for the advancement of research and scholarship (OARS).

The second place team, “Development of Organic Solar Cell on Paper Substrates,” received $2,500. They were led by Kaitlyn Mahoney, senior chemical engineering major, with team members Andrea Dappen, senior engineering management major, Yuntong (Tony) Jiang, senior chemical engineering major; Amy Miller, senior chemical engineering major, and Lauren Myers, senior health promotion major. They were advised by Lei Kerr, professor of chemical and paper engineering.

The third place team, “Construction of a new generation of baculovirus expression vector system for vaccine development,” received $1,000. They were led by Maria Holztrager, junior microbiology and clinical laboratory science double major, with team members Chris Hillman, senior microbiology major, Caitlin Finelli, senior microbiology and clinical laboratory science double major, Sarah Lynch, senior microbiology and clinical laboratory science double major, Ryan Morris, senior mechanical engineering and finance double major, and Sumit Kovoor, senior accountancy major. They were advised by Xiao-Wen Cheng, associate professor of microbiology.

Team Red Blade

The five engineering majors on team Red Blade will spend the month of May on campus preparing for the Institute of Navigation’s (ION) Robotic Lawn Mower Competition, held May 31-June 2 in Dayton.

They participated in numerous outreach workshops and robot/navigation demonstrations this semester on campus and to various school and community groups in Oxford. They also gave demonstrations to high school students in St. Paul, Minn. during the ION Autonomous Snow Plow Competition in January. The team placed second in that competition.

The Red Blade project was supported by OARS, the departments of computer science and software engineering and electrical and computer engineering, and through outreach funds from a National Science Foundation grant (through Janet Burge, assistant professor of computer science and software engineering).

Red Blade robotic mower and team


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