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In lieu of cock fighting,
nerds turn to robot wars
By Erin Conway-Smith
In the opening stage of last night's Robotic Olympiad, teams of students dressed in matching t-shirts methodically assembled multicoloured Lego pieces on the packed floor of The Wave.
Organized by computer science lecturer Keith Edwards, the first-ever event was part of an assignment for a third-year computer science project management class.
Eighty students divided into nine teams spent a month designing robots based on Lego Mindstorm kits provided by the computer science department.
The purposed of the assignment was to practice team building skills within a competitive environment, Edwards said. "I love to have dynamic, creative exercises for my students."
Skills in real time programming, engineering design and robotics with added infusions of creativity and team spirit were required for the assignment, Edwards said.
"Part of a university education is getting students to think creatively this type of exercise allows them to step outside the box," he said.
The team with the most total points after various competition components including a robot talent show, obstacle course and robot wrestling would receive a trophy and top assignment marks.
One of the toy-like robots, built by a team called 'The Great Ones,' displayed the ability to shoot a small hockey puck into a net while playing the 'Hockey Night in Canada' theme song.
"We are 'The Great Ones' because we are not going to lose," said team member Ali Sayrafi, a fourth-year computer science student.
Sayrafi said preparing for the Robotic Olympiad was a fun and challenging experience and added he was most looking forward to the robot wrestling event.
A team called the 'Ragin' Bulls' sported matching t-shirts and displayed a helicopter propeller they had constructed for their robot.
"We tried to make something unique," said Nelson Liao, a third-year computer science student and team member.
The Robotic Olympiad was a fun and dynamic way to learn how to work as a group, he added.
Another robot drew a maple leaf while "singing" the national anthem for the talent portion of the competition.
Final results of the Robotic Olympiad were not available when The Gazette went to print.