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Shana Smith, College of Education, (515) 294-8528
Melody Carroll, College of Education, (515) 294-6239
Ryan Richter, College of Education, (515) 341-0904
Amy Janssen, College of Education, (515) 296-2176
Cathy Curtis, College of Education, (515) 294-8175
Kevin Brown, News Service, (515) 294-8986


AMES, Iowa -- Three Iowa State University industrial education and technology students will demonstrate their robotics skills in a nationally televised contest on Sunday, Oct. 5.

Axel Stromberg, senior from Woodstock, Ill.; Ryan Richter, senior from Bancroft; and John Hughes, junior from Cedar Rapids, will compete in "Robot Rivals" at the studios of the "Do It Yourself" (DIY) Network, Knoxville, TN.

The program has limited satellite availability in Iowa and no cable network presence in the area. For viewing alternatives, including possible online video footage, see the network's Web site,
DIY will also provide a tape to ISUtv, a student-run station at Iowa State.

Shana Smith, fculty advisor for Iowa State's NAIT chapter and an assistant professor of industiral education and technology, worked with the show's officials to coordinate arrangements and identify the team.

In competition, the team must build a robot in a day while following specific instructions and criteria. Before traveling to the competition, the team is allowed to fabricate and design a plan for the robot.

"We can request special parts or components and they (DIY Network staffers) will get them for us," Richter said.

According to Richter, the robot's dimensions must be within three cubic feet. When assembled, the robot must be able to shoot basketballs in hoops of different heights.

Richter said the team is judged on the basis of how well the robot solves the problem -- in this case, scores the most points out of 8 basketball shots or achieves the best score in a three-minute competition. Functionality is the key to winning.

"I'm very confident we can build the robot quickly and effectively," said Richter. "Anyone can take a nut and a bolt and put it together; the challenge is about going down to the show with a competitive design."

Iowa State's team will compete against a team from Tulane University, New Orleans, La.

"I'm not nervous about the camera, I'm nervous about being able to perform well with a working robot," Richter said.

The winner of the competition on Oct. 5 will go on to compete against another university Oct. 6. If the Iowa State team wins then, they will return in December to tape another competition.

"I'm very proud just to be asked to compete. To be selected is a big honor," Richter said.

Stromberg and Richter are also members of the National Association for Industrial Technology (NAIT) organization. Iowa State's NAIT team won the championship robotics trophy from the annual NAIT contest in Panama City, Fla., last year. Richter believes they were invited to participate in "Robot Rivals" because of the NAIT victory.

"He shows tremendous talent and he's very good mechanically," Richter said.

When the team returns from their competition, they are unable to disclose who won until the show is aired, which could be four to six months after taping.

Melody Carroll, academic advisor in industrial education and technology, said this competition not only benefits students, but also the department.

"It will give the department, the college and the university national recognition, especially if they win," Carroll said.

The team will fly out of Des Moines Oct. 4 and return to Ames Oct. 7. Richter said the network pays all travel, food and lodging expenses.

The show is produced by RIVR Media, a television production firm.

Written by Amy Janssen, an Iowa State University student journalist.


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